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How BC Clear Cut Logging is Connected to Canada’s Heat Waves

bc deforestation heat waves

In June and July of 2021 record heat waves shattered previous records recorded in British Columbia and not just by a few degrees. To put into perspective how much hotter it is 2021, previous historic heat records across British Columbia were in the mid to low 30s and some of these records set more than a hundred years ago. The new records set are now in the mid to high 40s for BC. It was literally hotter in British Columbia the week of June 28th 2021 than it was in the Sahara desert. It was 10℃ cooler in the Sahara Desert than in BC that week. This isn’t an incremental change in temperature, this is jump in temperature that cannot be sustained even on a yearly basis. Especially with the old growth forests living here in the Pacific Northwest.

So what is causing this leap in temperature rise in British Columbia and is there anything we can do about it? One part of the cause is global warming and climate change. Recent CO2 levels have reached more than 419ppm (parts per million) in 2021, and with that increase global temperatures also rise. So British Columbia has been experiencing hotter weather in recent years due to global climate change but there’s something else making our local temperatures much worse.

The other part, is clear cut logging and deforestation in BC. It may not seem like the two are connected, but British Columbia’s forests are a key part in the climate here. They are one of the main reasons we have so much rain and this region has stayed what we call the “Pacific Northwest” for so long. With the old growth logging at Fairy Creek in BC drawing attention to the root cause of the problem, its evident that logging in BC is done so under the “facade” of being regulated. This has resulted in a call for an independent Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel which now consists of 5 members. Gary Merkel, a member of the Tahltan Nation with 45 years experience in forestry. Dr. Rachel F. Holt an independent ecologist who is well versed in many areas regarding environment and land management. Lisa Matthaus who has a Masters in Environmental and Resource Economics and worked at Sierra Club BC for more than 10 years. Dr. Karen Price who has worked on old growth and land use policy for more than 25 years. And Dave Daust who is also a professional forester and has spent 30 years researching the impacts of human activities on forest biodiversity for Indigenous and provincial governments. With these members on the panel, BC seems to be headed in the right direction in preserving BC’s forests and future.

People have had enough with British Columbia’s forests being sold for profit and now that its connected to record heat waves in Canada, its clear action has to be taken before its too late. There is always more that we can do. If we can make real effort to truly protect British Columbia’s forests moving forward, we can help mitigate these devastating heat waves that are leading to an ongoing event we may already be in.

The BC Forest Fire Feedback Loop

Forests, especially large well established ones like the old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, provide atmospheric moisture which helps create clouds. These clouds help reflect the suns heat. Without BC’s forests creating those clouds we have no protection from the heat caused by global warming. So with global warming, combined with logging, a situation begins to build.

forest fires Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park, BC Canada
Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park, BC Canada

The natural system begins to break. By clear cut logging and reducing the atmospheric moisture, this allows temperatures in the area to rise. With higher temperatures, this leads to more forests fires (like we are witnessing in BC). With more forest fires we obviously have less trees which cause even higher temperatures. On top of all this, the dry dead material from clear cut logging acts as fuel for fires. So a very dangerous feedback loop is created by doing/allowing 1 thing to happen, logging of forests on a mass scale. And human caused climate change around the Earth isn’t helping the situation. On a local level, forests are the one thing we have to help protect us in Canada from the effects of global climate change. Without them, we’re helping speed up global climate change and causing it to happen right here at home.

The “laws and policies”, or lack thereof, in BC against clear cut logging of old growth forests in BC (and forests in general) are not protecting the forests and not protecting the people of British Columbia Canada. Its gotten to a point where citizens of BC have to exercise our right to protect our homes and surrounding land from incredibly dumb decisions and policies by local government and local companies. The time for debate on this is over. We know what has to be done from the perspective of science and ethics.

There is a way to make use of forest wood in a sustainable way that works with nature (ask the First Nations, they have 10,000+ years of experience who have been telling us for decades) and clear cut logging isn’t one of them. In my opinion, clear cut logging of old growth forests should not only be illegal but banned outright. The only exception should be necessary management by First Nations for the protection and health of the rest of the forest. Where do you draw the line when certain actions put both the local population, Nature and the planet all in danger? Given the science of how we know this works and given that “discussion and politics” have failed repeatedly… how far to you have to go to protect and do what is right? Are we going to wait around and do something about this after the forests are all cut down and it’s too late?

The Narwhal has also published a great article on The Connection of Clearcut Logging and Canada’s Hottest Day on Record by Emma Gilchrist. She goes into further detail on this and has more information from Peter Wood of the Sierra Club BC. His research on deforestation and the situation that BC is in, is of monumental importance and reveals how everything is connected to the forests here.

Jacob Haust

With a passion for design, electric vehicles, engineering and the environment, Jacob is combining his interests to help make the world a more sustainable place for generations to come. He went to University for Industrial Design where he understood materials, processes and manufacturing. This is a key part as a designer in order to understand what can and can't be done when manufacturing with certain materials and what materials to choose when designing for specific applications. So he has a fairly deep understanding of materials used in everyday products and the processes used to make them. As a kid he also lived in Iceland for years where he toured geothermal power plants and gained an appreciation for the engineering and sustainability of this energy source.

jacob haust
Comments (1)
  • Taryn Skalbania
     on August 22, 2021

    I enjoy a well-researched, well-written article, that is simple to absorb and easy to share, even climate change deniers will embrace this reasoning! Keep up the great journalism.. We have known for decades that clear cuts cause floods, mudslides, dirty drinking water, riparian damages, habitat loss, droughts, and biodiversity loss, we assumed they most likely were behind the increased fires and climate change effects, now we know. Time for industry to change practices and the government to establish tougher, stricter regulations that portect our crownlands from incineration.


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