Discussion 2: How do we prepare for the health impacts of climate change?

The Province is doing critical work through CleanBC to reduce our emissions and take action on climate change. But greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere will continue to cause changes over the coming decades. Preparing for climate change is about understanding these changes and developing appropriate measures to respond and be prepared. It’s what we call being “climate-ready”. Our health is impacted by climate change – increased wildfires can affect our respiratory health, more droughts and floods put pressure on our food and water systems, and rising summer temperatures can lead to dehydration and other heat-related illness, particularly for the very young and elderly. Being able to effectively respond to these challenges is important to maintain our health and well-being in a changing climate.

Question 2: What impacts do events such as heat waves or periods of poor air quality have on your health? How will you take care of yourself and your loved ones as these events increase? What actions do you think different levels of government can take to better prepare your community for these impacts?

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17 responses to “Discussion 2: How do we prepare for the health impacts of climate change?

    User avatar
    [-] Sze

    The wildfires of the past couple of years were hard on our kids. This year we rearranged our summer plans to camp at the beginning of the season. We also came up with back up arrangements for summer camp – as we had challenges in 2018 having kids pulled from outdoor activities and being put in cramped, hot rooms everyday. We are lucky to have been safe from the wildfires – and have heard from friends how traumatic it was.
    We are trying to think ahead and installed a heat pump with the grants. Ive commented to the rec centre and library that better air filtration is needed. You could still smell the wildfire smoke and people were complaining about headaches last year.

    User avatar
    [-] Lynne

    I live in a forested community. One of the biggest fears of the citizens of my community is a wildfire that impacts houses. Even a simple house fire could be catastrophic in the right conditions, potentially resulting in the loss of dozens of homes. We can try to Fire Smart our properties, but cutting down the trees is not an option I would consider. Poor air quality when there are wildfires burning in the area is also a serious concern for the elderly, the young, and people with existing health issues.

    User avatar
    [-] Gordon

    We are seeing a lot more lean-looking bears in this small city, foraging for food over the mid- to late-summer. The bush is dry; the berry crops were very poor this year, so they have been a nuisance. I believe the Conservation officers have had to destroy more than 40 of them.
    Invasive insects are on the rise: several new species of wood-borers, spiders, and in the past 3 years, we have been plagued with newly-arrived blackflies.
    Red tide events, as well as low-stream flows have arrived earlier and lasted longer than in past years. This is affected shellfisheries, recreational fishing, and salmon runs.
    Last Winter was abnormally dry (from mid-January through to April) which resulted in top die-off of many trees (residential and in for the forest). I lost two well-established fruit-trees, due to the drought; by the time I thought to water them it was too late. And I’m on the coast!. Our local Arbutus trees all suffered quite-severe damage (leaf drop, and completely dead areas in the canopy). As well, the cedars are still looking very thin (in November).

    User avatar
    [-] Ochre

    Please use the upcoming retrofit code to make heat pumps mandatory at heating system replacement time. I’m a renter and believe there is no way my landlord will try something other than a gas furnace, despite the rebates. Needs regulation. I have asthma and Last smoky summer I stayed at my parents place since they have a heat pump and could keep windows closed and air filtered.

    I’m not sure what the province can do about future food crop failures elsewhere in the world causing costs to increase and availability to decrease. I’m trying to support island organic farmers regularly.

    Currently trees are typically cut down to make room for bike lanes, but it will be much nicer to bike under a tree canopy during hotter summers. Can bikeBC funding support tree retention or planting? Or hilariously some cover with solar panels on top? This approach means sacrificing some space for cars. Could we get better ebike rebates, fund improved public transit services and free fares, and make distance based insurance to discourage single occupancy vehicle trips?

    I’m worried about power outages from increased storm intensity. To support electrification in BC we’ll need a resilient grid that can provide space heating. What is the province’s plan for that? Heat pumps plus wood stove incentives?

    User avatar
    [-] Ochre

    I forgot to add – the retrofit and new building code should require projected rather than historic climate data be used. Already the condo I used to live in overheated in the summer. I worry about older people and those with health problems suffering in heat waves in buildings that make the situation worse.

    User avatar
    [-] Derek

    The large scale burning of logging debris every fall across BC is a huge contributor of pollution, yet rarely mentioned. There are alternatives – chipping and spreading debris, that are rarely used due to the (minor) cost. Forest fire smoke is often mentioned, yet the amount from burning landing piles is most likely larger. The Provincial Government can encourage licencees to promote alternative methods of slash disposal, yet as witnessed from my 30 years working for FLNRO, has no appetite to pursue this.

    User avatar
    [-] Charna

    I think my local government should first acknowledge that climate change exists. They voted no on a motion to acknowledge there is a climate crisis.

    User avatar
    [-] Roland

    The poor air quality on the coast due to the record fires of 2017 and 2018 did affect our breathing a little and made for poor visibility. The only way to really take care of ourselves during future summers like this is to leave the area. If you do not have the means then you will suffer in the future. There is nothing our local community can do to mitigate such large, all encompassing regional impacts, especially as they originate from Interior forest fires hundreds of kilometres away. All we can do is jointly join the Inter-national efforts to eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels altogether, in the hope of mitigating climate change impacts such as this in the future. However, at least a 1.5C global temperature rise is already “baked into” the climate system already, and the oil industry is still bent on expanding oil and gas production from the tar sands, the Arctic and north-eastern BC. With such a backdrop I am very much afraid my grandson will live to see a world totally unlike what we see today, because far too little is being done far too late.

    User avatar
    [-] Angela

    Heat waves cause drought and a lack of water is causing a strain on being able to grow food at home and locally causing higher prices at the store for imported produce – as well there is a need to use more electricity to keep the home at a reasonable comfortable temperature causing a strain on electricity requirements and higher electrical bills – solution is to put in rain collection barrels and creating a better gardening system using less water, creating more air flow through in the house to regulate heat better – governments could make water collections systems available at cost to home owners … Air quality affects breathing and the time able to be spent outside – government can help with recycling initiatives and better transit to reduce emissions – not sure what to do about forest fires – closing campground and public access to the outdoors will have a negative impact on mental health wellness

    User avatar
    [-] Mary

    Upgrade building codes to create green buildings that are sustainable now. Provide monetary help for upgrading residential homes to green buildings. Provide all the money needed to cut down trees around buildings if that is what you want to keep cities safer, especially considering the massively unhealthy LNG projects you are subjecting us too. Much more methane causing global warming (up to 80 times worse) will cause many more wildfires. Add the GHG’s from wildfires into the total of our GHG emissions each year instead of not including them and hiding our real GHG totals.
    You could best prepare our communities by not allowing lethal methane emissions from unhealthy LNG projects to go ahead and affect our health (and the world’s) in countless negative ways.
    Controlled burning might help. Initiate a yearly report card so we can see what the B.C. government has actually done to lower our emissions considering we are increasing our emissions yearly and that is a fact without even including the largest project in all of Canada: LNGC.

    User avatar
    [-] Mary

    The B.C.Government has given permits to many LNG projects. Each day of the 40 years average length of these projects the pollution will be 20 to 80 times worse a GHG than CO2 going into the atmosphere for the first 20 years. Perhaps the government and the polluting companies involved in these projects could leave the camps that they are/will be installing for workers to complete these unhealthy projects. We will have millions of climate refugees in the coming years that will need a home, partly due to these projects.

    User avatar
    [-] Dave

    The question asked is “What do I think various levels of government can take to better prepare our communities from these impacts?”. In my opinion, continuing to pin our future hopes on increasing fossil fuel development – the very thing that has a whole lot to do with our predicament – is completely insane.

    I take my hat off to the three provincial premiers who have recently taken steps to reduce their fossil fuel impact. With the announced Memorandum of Understanding with two next generation nuclear energy providers, the Premiers of Saskatchewan Ontario and New Brunswick are taking an important step to ensure Canada is on the leading edge of reducing this country’s negative fossil fuel climate impact by investing in energy from Small Nuclear Molten Salt Reactors.

    Small Nuclear Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) are far safer than conventional water-cooled reactors which require extremely careful safety monitoring and round the clock coverage. Moltex Energy, for one, is in discussions with New Brunswick which is looking to replace their aging CANDU water cooled reactors with Generation IV Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). The three stages in the company’s plan will be to immediately start with Uranium, eventually employing Thorium in the nuclear fuel cycle ten to fifteen years later. Spent nuclear waste from conventional water-cooled reactors can also be rendered less hazardous in these Generation IV SMRs. That’s the kind of initiative more Canadian provinces should encourage.

    A calculation of the full life-cycle greenhouse gas impact from LNG which includes methane leaks from sources upstream from the LNG facility including fracking, etc. the answer is a value that is actually worse than the best coal-fired power plants in Asia. I would feel more comfortable with our collective future health if the British Columbia government would just stop cheer-leading and financially supporting the LNG industry with incentives from taxpayers (which indicates the industry cannot survive on its own) when the world (China and India in particular) see the future is no longer with fossil fuels, but with MSR’s, nuclear energy and renewable energy sources.

    User avatar
    [-] Dianne

    I have environmental allergies, so each day begins with checking air quality advisories. Due to the increased wildfire smoke during summers and wood-smoke in winters, we spent quite a bit of money to buy HEPA filtration units big enough to adequately clean the inside home air. Due to heatwaves, we spent again and switched all windows and skylights to energy star units, then bought portable air conditioners for bedrooms so we could sleep. Window coverings were upgraded as well, a new roofing and doubled the number of attic roof vents. All unexpected expenses on a 25 year old residence., but we are fortunate to have had these options.
    Our regional government refers to the events impacts as the ‘new normal’. Their website reports on water and air issues and residents can sign up for alerts which has been helpful to better prepare.

    User avatar
    [-] Eric

    I really respect that you took the initiative to make your own improvements and modifications to mitigate impacts. You’re one of the few that hasn’t appealed for gov’t to send you more money or otherwise take control of your life. You are setting a great example of what people can do for themselves and be directly part of the larger solution.. Not certain where all the people looking for gov’t handouts think the money is going to come from. Sure they’ll be happier with free stuff but they’re just mortgaging their kids future for their personal gain now.

    User avatar
    [-] Billy

    Kill the pipeline. Ban tobacco. Stop spraying pesticides. Stop producing plastic. Stop killing animals. No more war. Decommission nuclear power plants since they seem to like blowing up. Stop driving oil across the ocean…because the tankers like to leak.

    I mean it’s pretty easy to see what the problems are. You don’t have to be Greta Thunberg with Asperger’s to know what’s going on….

    User avatar
    [-] Harold

    How do we prepare for the health impacts of climate change? Lets be prepared to remove CO2 emissions from all our cities. In BC legislate that cities make electric vehicles only zones for the downtown core. Then encourage trains, busing, bicycle traffic and pathways to our downtown. Free charging stations downtown to encourage shopping. Shared thermo-exchange heating and cooling systems.

    Creating a 0 emissions living. What amazing health concept?

    User avatar
    [-] E.

    I understand that 95% of BC’s electricty is produced from renewable sources. I appreciate that heat pumps (“..to cool your home…”) might be a nice thing to have but it isn’t clear to me that this is going to significantly reduce carbon emissisions in BC. As for “filtering out air pollution…” it would seem that reducing air pollution is a better strategy than to promote rather than filtering the air in your home.
    Personally I shall strive to improve my personal fitness and lead a healthy lifestyle with a view to sustaining a high standard of personal health and thereby being less susceptible to occasional environmental events. This is something positive I can directly control and influence and does not require government intervention or subsidy.
    I think government can advocate for people to take more personal responsibility for their health and fitness so they are more physically resilient. Exercise, healthy eating, refraining from excess and indulgence will have a much greater impact on health outcomes in a stressful event. Such a lifestyle is established early in life and should be encouraged in early childhood eduation.