Don’t fall for a warm October

In our latest newsletter, we look at how record-breaking fall temperatures across B.C. have us feeling ‘a bit like a frog in a pot of boiling water’

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People enjoying the unusually low water of the Granby River north of Grand Forks.
Last year, it was a dangerously dry summer. This year, it’s a dangerously dry fall.

I don’t have to tell you it’s not normal for B.C. temperatures to regularly reach 25 C in the middle of October. 

The flipside to the joy of an endless summer? Drought, wildfires and, as our editor-in-chief Emma Gilchrist writes, “a growing sense of anxiety about how nearly three months with no rain in much of B.C. is impacting, well, all other living things.”

“It’s hard to avoid the feeling that we’re a bit like a frog in a pot of boiling water: slowly dying.”
If we were looking for a red flag to mark B.C.’s record-breaking fall drought, this was it: a viral video of thousands of salmon found dead in a dried-up creek in Heiltsuk territory.

As experts note, the salmon crisis is one that’s playing out not just in Heiltsuk territory but across B.C. and around the world. Rising water temperatures, coupled with extreme fluctuations in water levels, are among the changes species have been grappling with at an increasing rate.
Tweet reads: "This is Neekas, Heiltsuk Territory. All of these salmon went into the creek, the creek dried up b/c of no rain so far this fall, and just died, and this is just one reach! Global warming is killing everything. This is such a sad scene. Video credit, Sarah Mund," with a video of dried-up creek
“It is a tragedy and one that we’re already living,” Andrea Reid, who leads the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Indigenous Fisheries, told Emma. “We’re seeing communities effectively cut off from salmon access all over the province of British Columbia. We’re seeing that play out over the past many decades.” 

Drought conditions have knock-on effects everywhere, including western red cedars and Douglas fir trees that are struggling to survive on southern Vancouver Island. And if those trees go, there will be consequences for the birds, bears and other wildlife that rely on them.

Just look to the black bears in northern B.C. that endured a colder-than-usual spring this year. With few huckleberries able to grow, coupled with a drought that left other plants they look to for food all shrivelled up, Nelson, B.C., is seeing an “extremely high” number of bears loitering around garbage bins and backyards with ripe fruit — so much so that it’s becoming an election issue.

While the challenges posed by a warming climate are daunting, there are plenty of smart people working to find solutions. As Reid says: the central role salmon play in Indigenous culture means Indigenous people are at the forefront of a global movement trying to save them.

Take care and be careful what you wish for,

Arik Ligeti
Director of audience

Photo of Emma Gilchrist looking to the side and smiling

We did it, Joe!

Whew! Our readers, nay, new members, really made last month a September to remember. In a budget crunch, we needed 182 new Narwhals to join the pod — and boy, did you ever show up in droves. Here’s just a few of the things some of you had to say:

“I enjoy and benefit from The Narwhal’s journalism — really appreciate the Ontario correspondents now.”

“I value the work and honest reporting that The Narwhal does and want it to continue.”

“I want to keep seeing strong reporting on climate and the environment in Canada!”

Thanks to all our members, and our generous September matching donors Orca Book Publishers and Leonard Schein, founder of the Vancouver International Film Festival, we will continue to deliver the in-depth reporting you’ve come to expect of us.

Photo of Fatima Syed smiling

Are you free next Tuesday?

Join our Ontario reporter Fatima Syed at 2030 in Focus (co-hosted by the Canadian Climate Institute) as she moderates a panel called “Making Climate Progress in a Volatile World” with experts from across the globe. 

“It’s rare to have a conversation about the climate emergency that is constructive and optimistic. I’m excited to get into how these climate leaders are keeping climate action on the agenda despite the endless stream of challenges around the world, and what we can do to help,” Fatima says.

Go here to register for a lively discussion that’ll look to the next decade, and beyond, of progress toward net zero.


This week in The Narwhal

Elder Eugene Ross picking up sage from a field dressed in bright red traditional clothing
The true history of farming on the Prairies
By Jay Whetter
When an agriculture journalist from Manitoba realized his family farm was on land with a long history of Indigenous farming, he embarked on a journey to learn more.

Aerial photo of Copper Mountain mine
‘Nature has no borders’: why Americans are worried about Canadian mines
By Francesca Fionda
Photo of Alberta's Premier Danielle Smith
What a Danielle Smith government could mean for the environment in Alberta
By Drew Anderson

Photo of a black bear in the back alleys of Nelson, B.C.
B.C. has killed 5,632 black bears since 2011: ‘there’s no sign that it’s getting better’
By Ainslie Cruickshank

What we’re reading

The quest to protect Hudson Bay’s unique coastline, one of Canada’s last, best wild places
The world spends billions to ‘protect’ Indigenous land. Only 17% goes to Indigenous peoples
When you want to enjoy the sunny outdoors but you’re not sure if a warm October is the best thing. Don’t worry, our newsletters will let you and your friends know if you should fall for it or not — just tell them to sign up.
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