The polar bear has become the figurehead of the effects of climate change in the Arctic. The sea ice on which the bears depend when hunting is melting faster and faster.
For other species, the climate impact is not as direct. The 2019 State of Canada’s Birds Insectivores such as Swifts, Swallows and Nightjars have been reported to have dropped 59 percent since 1970. The report mentions climate change as one of several threats, as severe weather limits the availability of insects.
Accordingly, according to Lauren Meads, director of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC, extreme weather events related to climate change have affected the habitat, in which rehabilitated digging owls are released, which affects their ability to return to the breeding areas the following year.
For those who are committed to species recovery, tackling the root cause of the decline is critical. Although the climate disturbance exacerbates the situation of many species, the polar bear and its arctic neighbors are partly standing (or swimming or flying). The main cause of the decline in most endangered species in Canada is loss of habitat and deterioration.
Some industries are trying to take advantage of the ever-evolving climate crisis to prevent habitat protection and recovery. When forestry called for a delay in urgently needed restoration efforts and the need to investigate the impact of climate change on caribou populations, some leading caribou scientists wrote: “There is little evidence that climate change has brought caribou populations to their current threat and climate change does not explain the rapid decline rates and range declines that are continuing in many places today. “
Although they overlap, the endangerment of ecological species and the climate crisis cannot be fully reconciled. The extinction crisis is due to the lack of sufficient boundaries for development, agriculture and raw material extraction. The climate crisis is caused by a lack of sufficient limit values for greenhouse gases that we release into the atmosphere.
This does not mean that there are no significant overlaps in causes and solutions.
A report by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society said: “Human activities such as industrial agriculture, logging, mining, hydropower development, and oil and gas exploration have led to these two ecological crises that are closely related.” Find common ground notes: “Reducing man-made land use changes in Canada’s ecosystems, particularly in wetlands, offers a potential treasure trove of emissions reductions with significant biodiversity benefits.”
This is particularly true of Alberta and the northeast of British Columbia, where oil and gas exploration has devastated the habitat of the caribou species and wildlife, as well as the indigenous communities dependent on it. Industrial activity has disrupted 96 percent of the Little Smoky caribou chains and 70 to 80 percent of the boreal caribou chains from Chinchaga, West Side Athabasca, East Side Athabasca, Cold Lake, Nipisi and Slave Lake.
These high levels of interference reduce the persistence probability of caribou populations to less than 20 percent. To increase their chances, significant changes are needed to curb logging and the oil and gas footprint and to initiate an aggressive recovery.
The protection of habitats such as the boreal forest, which is rich in bogs, would also serve as a means of binding carbon.
The decline in wildlife is not just an ecological problem. In BC’s Peace River Valley, more than three-quarters of the traditional Blueberry River First Nations area is within walking distance of industrial disruptions. In May 2019, Blueberry sued the province on the grounds that the cumulative impact of industrial activities – primarily oil and gas – would have had a significant impact on land and wildlife in its traditional territory and, accordingly, on contractual hunting and fishing rights.
Although there are different ways to heal and alleviate the two crises, the causes – avoiding our duty to repair what we have broken, not restricting human activities and preventing urgently needed measures – are the same as the general ones Solutions: We recognize our impact on the planet, take responsibility for it and meet to take immediate and sensible action. The CPAWS report states that protecting and restoring forests, bogs, meadows, and wetlands can improve biodiversity and climate goals.
As discouraging as both crises are, we cannot look away. We have to face them and change course.
All living things are dependent on a stable climate and functioning ecosystems. Our planet is the only one with badgers and dragonflies – and chocolate! It is worth fighting for.
David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions by David Suzuki Foundation Boreal Project Manager Rachel Plotkin.