Economic costs of climate change may not be visible, but they are real and growing

Port Metro Vancouver, which has the costly and repetitive job of dredging the main navigation channel of the Fraser River, reports that silt loads in the river are rising steadily, driving multi-million dollar dredging costs up with them.

Why?

Port CEO Robin Silvester said March 31 that the most likely explanation is more run-off on the Fraser’s vast watershed resulting from the ravages of mountain pine beetle.

(He was addressing a joint gathering March 31 of Metro Vancouver’s Port Committee and the board of Port Metro Vancouver. The two boards, sometimes at odds over taxes but aligned in their determination to protect the economic benefits of the port, were meeting on a sternwheeler cruise of the port’s facilities between New Westminster and Richmond.)

Silvester said the Fraser’s side channels, which are dredged by other organizations, are constantly at risk of silting up because of the increased load.

It was a fascinating insight into the enormous and widespread economic impacts climate change and the pine beetle infestation, a disaster often forgotten by city dwellers.

But the devastation in BC will be the focus of an upcoming global conference in Spain focussed on global disease threats to forests. Wells artist Claire Kujundzic, whose pine beetle work was installed at the Salt Building during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, is preparing a special exhibit for the conference called Cariboo: Message from the Beetle.

You can contribute to Kujundzic’s travel costs and receive an example of her work by donating here.