Editorial: Fire is in our future

The implications of the recent weather are very real. Climate change will greet each region with different results.

If last week’s weather situation wasn’t an omen for the future climate of the South Island, nothing is.

No sooner did the smoke covering our skies dissipate, we had our first rain in weeks, and while the sun has returned, it’s at a moderate high of 21 C.

Everything is fine.

But the implications of the recent weather are very real. Climate change is unique, and the effect will greet each region with different results.

Vancouver Island, some believe, will be a couple degrees warmer, and considerably drier, though to what extent is unknown.

In January, the Saanich News published a story about local research scientist Kendrick Brown of the Canadian Forest Service.

Brown isn’t predicting a hotter climate on the Vancouver Island, including Greater Victoria. But others are, with models suggesting temperatures in southern B.C. may increase 2 to 3 degrees Celsius by 2100.

And because of that, Brown and his team have been commissioned by the Capital Regional District to build a report on what he’s learned about the past climate in our region, as paleoclimate indicators suggest the  early Holocene (11,700 to 7,000 years ago) was warmer and drier compared to present-day, perhaps something like our future.

Ergo, the early Holocene period can likely tell us what to expect – one element of which are increased instances of (wild) fire. Brown’s current focus is on sediment cores collected from the Greater Victoria Water Supply Area, including the Sooke Lake Reservoir. And the samples from more than 7,000 years ago do in fact yield evidence of fire.

The active number of wild fires in B.C. peaked at around 200 this past weekend, with 78 currently registering on 10 hectares of land, or more. Are future generations of South Islanders destined to live in a fire-prone region? Not quite. But fire disturbance is already increasing in B.C.

It’s good to know the CRD is at least wondering, if not planning, how it can protect our precious water supply against this risk.