Column: 2020s will bring roar of wildfires, storms, social upheaval

Shuswap Passion by Jim Cooperman

The arrival of the new decade provides an opportunity to reflect on the one previous one, make predictions about the upcoming one, as well as compare it to its namesake, the Roaring Twenties.

No doubt, the 2020s will be as roaring as the 1920s, though the roar will likely not be coming from wild dance parties. Instead, it will emanate from wildfires, intense storms, rising social upheavals and yet more wars.

With so many countries now run by leaders seemingly populist, but increasingly authoritarian and in cahoots with greedy elites, it is likely at some point citizens will rebel when they see themselves increasingly marginalized. As climate change impacts more people, it is inevitable that the public opinion tide will turn with Greta Thunberg’s movement gaining support and influence.

What is too often missing in any article about climate change is the true nature of the problem, that all predictions call for exponential growth. We are witnessing the exponential growth of most impacts already, including glacier loss, wildfires, ocean acidification and intense, unpredictable storms. There is little doubt the upcoming decade will be much warmer, which could provoke a tipping point in public opinion towards greater uncertainty about the future and greater distrust of status quo governments.

It has been an ominous start to the new decade here in the Shuswap, as an unprecedented storm that combined massive amounts of heavy, wet snow with strong winds resulted in thousands of trees either snapped in half or fully down. As a result, most homes experienced a power outage, while some customers were without power for up to four days.

Read more: Ukrainian airlines crash near Tehran kills 63 Canadians; 176 dead

Read more: In photos: What to do with all that snow? Shuswap residents share fun, creative uses

Read more: Fraser Valley hotdog king is donating kidney to a customer

The impacts from the new year’s “snowmegeddon” will be felt far into the year, as likely every hiking and cross-country skiing trail is crisscrossed with upwards of hundreds of trees. Especially hard hit is the recently restored Margaret Falls trail where fallen trees have severely damaged the new bridges and walkways. The downed trees can also attract fir bark beetles, whose populations can then expand into the standing forests.

With record amounts of snow and more on the way, the possibility of flooding in the spring increases. As well, if warm weather arrives early and is accompanied by heavy rains, there will be more slides and other erosion events as we have already seen too often in the Shuswap.

Even though there will be greater uncertainty about the climate and the environment, trends from the previous decade indicate the Shuswap is poised for much more growth in the new decade. Salmon Arm is in the midst of a population expansion, as more people are choosing to move here, including many young families. As the population increases, so too will the local economy improve.

With forest fires currently ravaging Australia, there is a growing concern that the entire continent could become uninhabitable within decades. Last year we had a reprieve here in British Columbia, but the trend is definitely towards more droughts and more fires. It is only a matter of time, before wildfires threaten Shuswap residents again and yet government action on reducing fuel loads remains minimal.

At best, we can begin the decade with our fingers crossed with the hope that one of the best places in the world to live will continue to remain green and viable. Thankfully, in addition to being fortunate to live in a magnificent environment, we also have incredible organizations with countless numbers of dedicated and generous volunteers; all adding to the big rewards we enjoy living here in paradise.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sicamous Eagles have late-season struggle ahead to maintain playoff hopes

A loss against the Columbia Valley Rockies on Jan. 18 put the Sicamous squad further in the hole.

House show in Sicamous a country cure for the winter blues

Space is limited for the Feb. 1 show from Dirt Road Opera.

Son of Stomp planned for July in Silver Creek

Previously the event was held in Sicamous for 30 years

Word on the street: How do you spend a snow day?

When snow cancels school and your boss tells you to stay home,… Continue reading

Sports Shorts

Keep up to date with local sporting events and news segments Curling… Continue reading

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Kelowna’s Tess Critchlow gears up for World Cup at Big White

Critchlow is a professional snowboarder competing for Team Canada in the boardercross competition

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Update: Highway reopens after crash west of Revelstoke

Drive BC also reported a vehicle incident 10 km east of Golden.

Most Read