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Why We’re Asking Local Governments To Declare A Climate Emergency

This summer will be a hard one in Cowichan. The water restrictions came early this year and we stand a real chance of the Cowichan River running almost dry. Fire crews are preparing for the worst.

Unfortunately, these conditions are what we’ll need to live with now. Climate disruption has altered our weather patterns and will continue to do so. Alternating floods and droughts, as well as accelerating sea level rise will bring hardship to our valley.

Some of this is sadly inevitable. There is a lag between putting more carbon into the atmosphere and feeling the impacts, so even if we stopped emissions today, we would still experience more negative effects.

But more emissions make it even worse, so it’s not like it’s “too late.” We must both stop our carbon pollution and adapt to more extreme conditions.

When most people think about reducing emissions, they think of things like pipelines and governments far away in Ottawa. That’s valid, but more than two-thirds of our emissions here in Cowichan are from transportation, and a big reason for that is due to the decisions our local councils have made, or not made, about development over many years.

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The Other Scary Graph Cowichan Isn't Talking About

I know you aren't supposed to talk about graphs. They are boring. People switch off. We should tell stories instead. But I'm still going to talk about two of them, because they keep me up at night.

One of them we are already talking about publicly, in the sense that the media and politicians are on it. But the other is one that the Cowichan community is yet to grapple with seriously, even though it may be scarier.

A little while ago the Cowichan Watershed Board hosted one of its speakers nights, this time with a theme on climate change.

The star of the show was probably 16-year old Sierra Robinson of the Earth Guardians Cowichan Valley group, already an accomplished permaculture teacher, and also one of the organizers of the May 17 youth climate strike.

Sierra didn't need to show any graphs. At one point she broke down with the weight of it all, as a young person not only personally facing a frightening future, but also carrying the burden of trying to wake us adults the heck up.

Then there were the graphs.

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Climate Survey Results

A big thank you to the almost 250 people who took the time to fill out the One Cowichan climate survey. We wanted to ask community members for their thoughts on what One Cowichan might do in a local climate campaign. Here are the results. We know this is not a 'scientific' poll - more of a temperature check from a set of people who are interested.

 

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