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Climate change event aims to bring worldwide perspective and local knowledge

Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Image Credit: Submitted/Regional District of Central Okanagan

The results of climate change are so often so far away in time or distance that it’s hard to grasp what’s happening in your own backyard.

A presentation to be held next month at UBCO will not only bring in a renowned world-class speaker to give a global perspective but will also focus in on how different areas of the Okanagan may be affected.

It will include a panel of local experts and will be the public launch of the Okanagan Valley’s Climate Projections Report.

“It's going to talk about how many more days of rain are we going to see? How many days over 30 degrees we’re going to see? What parts of the valley will be impacted the most?" Todd Cashin, community services director for the Regional District of the Central Okanagan told

“My intention is not to make this a doom and gloom speech and more about: ‘you know what – and I’m just making these numbers up – we saw four days in July of over 30 degrees and in 20 years we’ll see 14 days over 30 degrees in July. So, maybe you should start thinking about planting one or two trees on the south side of your house if you don’t want your air conditioning bill to be ridiculous in July and August.’”

The keynote speaker will be Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an environmental activist and International Chair for the Inuit Circumpolar Council who was nominated for a Nobel prize in 2007.

She will be followed by a panel that is still being assembled but will include a representative of the Kelowna based Geen family who are the largest producers of cherries in Canada. That will look at how they are adapting to climate change as they, for example, plant more varieties in the North Okanagan and high up hillsides.

There will be a speaker from B.C. Wildfire talking about what wildfires in the Valley will look like in the future and more.

“We’re hoping to get a number of panelists that can speak to the Okanagan experience and what people, agencies etc. are starting to do and how we are thinking. Instead of reacting we can start proacting now so that, 20 years from now, we’re doing things a little differently.”

He realizes how hard it is to get the message out that there are things that people can do on a very local level that can have an impact globally.

“That’s the struggle,” Cashin said. “You can’t do anything in an hour that’s going to make a difference. For example, talking about the building code. Well the building code has changed so now we have to talk about educating people about the building code. Or switching over from large diesel trucks to maybe more electrical vehicles. Maybe it’s as simple as planting trees in your backyard.”

While the presentation will be a launch pad for the projections report, the hard work will start afterwards with efforts to educate people throughout the Okanagan to start making changes.

The event is called “An Evening on Building Community Resilience in a Changing Climate.”

It’s on Feb. 26 at the UBCO Commons Lecture Hall (COM 201) at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be bought on Eventbrite. Cashin expects them to sell quickly.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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