Speaking of Nature

When the forces of nature speak, it’s often with dire consequences. The Nepal earthquake is a stark reminder. Lingering impact of the Northeast winter that was is contributing to skewed seasonal lumber market activity. While the Pacific Northwest basks in the charm of April showers, news of severe drought dominates news out of California. Media reports in these parts suggest that long-range plans to divert some of B.C.’s moisture to drought-stricken parts of the U.S. may resurface. Even so, scientists are cautioning that, while B.C. residents are known to keep an umbrella handy, we could be subject to drought crisis ourselves. In a recent CBC interview, watershed management professor Hans Schreier at UBC discussed these concerns, touching on the economic impact, including significance of water in delivering power.

“If B.C. were to experience a drought, one of the biggest issues Schreier foresees is power. He says California’s drop in water supply cost the state $1.4 billion in reduced hydro power, which they had to replace with greenhouse-gas emitting LNG.

About 18 to 19 per cent of California’s power comes from hydro; in B.C., it’s more like 90 per cent, according to Schreier.

It’s difficult for scientists like Schreier to foresee whether or not B.C. will have a water crisis similar to California’s. He says it’s easier to predict rising temperatures than precipitation.

‘If you look at our reservoirs, we have reasonable capacity if we have snow cover and if we get lots of rain,’ he says. ‘But that’s very hard to predict.’

Scientists are already predicting B.C.’s low snow pack could affect the salmon run this summer. And many local ski hills have been closed most of the winter because of lack of snow.”

And all this, even though some suggest it’s a tad early to begin talking summer wildfire threats in the woods.

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