British Columbia, which is abode to 1,033 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves, and protected areas covering more than 14 million hectares, is home to some of the most beautiful glaciers in the world.
However, according to a recent study co-authored by Brian Menounos, a professor of geography at the University of Northern British Columbia and a Canada Research Chair in Glacier Change, 80% of these glaciers are forecast to completely disappear.
While the disappearance of glaciers may seem like a distant problem with little impact on our daily lives, the truth is that the effects of this phenomenon will be felt in various ways, from tourism and watersheds to public safety, according to a report by Coast Mountain News.
Tourism is a significant part of the provincial economy, and many foreign visitors visit British Columbia to see the ice-clad mountains.
“What is the value of that? I don’t know…but it is not a small amount,” said Menounos. The loss of these glaciers could have a significant impact on the tourism industry, as visitors may not find the same level of natural beauty that currently attracts them to the province.
The disappearance of glaciers also has implications for watersheds. Glaciers cover about 2% of British Columbia, and any watershed with glaciers will feel the effects of their disappearance.
While Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island rely on seasonal rain and snowmelt for their drinking water, communities on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains could see effects on their drinking water supplies. Menounos explained that watersheds with even minimal water supplies from glaciers do better than systems without them.
Furthermore, the disappearance of glaciers could threaten the physical safety of British Columbians by leading to more landslides, impact fishing and threatening access to power.
The Bridge River region helps supply hydro power for the Lower Mainland, and power generation in the Columbia Basin would also feel effects.
However, there is still hope. Menounos emphasizes that any action to fight climate change can nonetheless help save glaciers in British Columbia’s northern coastal mountains. It is important that we take action now to preserve these natural treasures for future generations to enjoy.
British Columbia’s glaciers are not only a beautiful sight to behold, but they also play a vital role in the province’s economy and infrastructure. It is time that we take action to preserve these natural wonders and ensure that they remain a treasure worth saving for years to come.