A Changing Climate on a Pristine Island

Language English
September 14, 2011 7 p.m. local time

© 2008 Flickr/Chris Willis cc by 2.0

As the picturesque capital of the province of British Columbia, Victoria is known as the “City of Gardens.” Originally a fur trading outpost for Britain’s Hudson’s Bay Company, Victoria retains its English heritage to this day in traditions like afternoon tea. Canadians flock to Victoria year-round to enjoy its exceptionally mild climate — so mild that flowers bloom well before the first day of spring.

Yet the global climate is changing and Victoria is not immune. On Vancouver Island, where Victoria is located, the average low winter temperature increased about 1.5°C in just 13 years. When the nearby city of Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympics, the weather was so warm that snow was hauled in from as far as 250 kilometers away.

© 2010 Flickr/ cc by 2.0

In the future, extreme weather and rising seas could make this idyllic part of Canada increasingly vulnerable. Up to a meter of sea level rise in the next 60 years could increase coastal erosion and the risk of flooding. More intense rainfall could increase the risk of landslides on the coast. And in British Columbia’s interior, the mountain pine beetle has already damaged an area more than twice the size of New Brunswick.

Presented by Peter Schiefke

Born and raised in Montreal, Peter Schiefke’s first experience with the impacts of climate change came from somewhere a little far from home: the East African plateau. As an undergraduate at Concordia University, he created the Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program, designed to connect Canadian youth with their peers in developing nations. During a trip to Uganda, he witnessed the impacts of extreme weather events such as droughts and severe flooding, an experience that motivated him to work to fight climate change. Upon his return to Montreal, Peter co-founded Youth Action Montreal, an organization that encouraged students to become more active in fighting climate change in their communities.

To learn more about this presenter, click here.