The City of Campbell River’s public workshops on Nov. 28 and 29 informed citizens about sea level statistics and ways their planning teams are combating climate change. Photo by Paige Pierce/Carihi Mirror

Campbell River youth concerned about impact of sea level rise

‘It’s important to address this and keep it in consideration’

Paige Pierce

Carihi Mirror

As a coastal city, many Campbell River residents have started to educate themselves on the rise of sea levels, as well as how it may affect us in the years to come.

But for those who don’t know where to begin their research, City of Campbell River co-op student Natasha Guillo explains her field of work, as well as how we contribute to our planet’s environmental conditions and overviews scientific studies on topics such as climate change.

“Sea level rise is a product of climate change, which is a natural phenomenon made exponentially worse by people,” Guillo says. “The sea levels are rising 3.3 mm per year, and it’ll be at about 1 meter by the year 2100. For a lot of people, that doesn’t sound like much, but you have to think about how it’s not just standing water, but also moving water in combination with storms.”

She adds that things like “burning fossil fuels,” as well as, “adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and trapping its heat,” are key factors in the rise of Earth’s temperatures over the last century.

Although Campbell River may not have been majorly affected by the world’s carbon footprint just yet, Guillo says that “this warming of the atmosphere is causing land ice to melt, as well as big ice sheets like Antarctica and Greenland. It’s also causing the ocean waters to expand as they warm, [which is] something we will see affecting us in the near future.”

The rise of our oceans may also explain why our town is often corrupted by crippling storms in the winter, such as the hurricane-level winds we experienced during April of 2012.

“Something we have to think about is sea level rise in combination with extreme weather events and more precipitation, so that means more rain and more storms,” Guillo says when asked why we need to be concerned about and try to prevent sea level rise on a smaller scale.

So what is the City of Campbell River doing to prepare for the inevitable effects on our town?

Well, the long-range planning team is in the process of determining what exactly they are able to do in the coming years to help ease citizens into the process of making changes to better their homes and safety in anticipation of environmental adversity.

“One of the reasons we’re planning now for it is because we recognize that it may expose us to some vulnerability with sea level rise,” Guillo says, “so there’s definitely the potential for some risk there depending on how we adapt and start planning for it now.”

So what are some tactics we can use to prepare for the need to make changes in order to keep our planet as healthy and sustainable as it once was?

Guillo advises taking small steps such as carpooling, biking, walking, and taking public transit when we can to reduce the amount of fuels being emitted into the air.

Residents can also do things like use less electricity and heating, Guillo says, which can be as simple as turning off lights when you leave a room or having heaters set to lower temperatures.

Campbell River residents can also aid city planners in spreading awareness of sea level rise by voting for people who want to fight for things that will make a difference.

“If people are concerned about these issues, I really encourage them to vote, because that’s where a lot of these big changes can happen – [when] they’re voting for people who are wanting to make a difference for the environment.”

The long-range planning team have also held two public workshops in the past few weeks, which help to provide information about our changing environment, as well as suggest strategies stop the more-drastic consequences of rising sea levels over the next century.

But what do our youth think about how we’ve affected our planet, and how do they suggest we fix it?

“Rising sea levels are a problem that a lot of coastal communities are going to have to deal with in the next 100 years,” says Carihi student Emily McLean. “It’s important to address this and keep it in consideration.”

“Getting informed and being aware can really make a difference, especially when it’s our age group that’s going to have to adjust to climate change in the future,” McLean adds.

Whether you believe climate change is an issue that will drastically affect us as a city or not, experts strongly suggest researching our current prevention tactics and strategies.

Additional workshops and informational sessions will be coming in the new year, so be sure to watch for updates as time permits.

More information about these workshops and rising sea levels can be found on the City of Campbell River’s website at campbellriver.ca or by emailing info@campbellriver.ca

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