The top photo of the Comox Glacier was taken Sept. 26

The top photo of the Comox Glacier was taken Sept. 26

Climate change and the Comox Glacier

Two photos taken one year apart illustrate shrinking of ice and snow

If you are an outdoor person as in hunting, fishing, hiking, exploring, or gardening you should be aware and concerned about the climate changes coming to our wild places –  such as increased acidic ocean waters, species die offs as in starfish, new species to us of marine life, extreme storms, changing migrations, and rising sea levels.

Earlier in the summer I wrote a column expressing concern about the speed at which the Comox Glacier was melting. This week I received the following pictures taken on Sept.  26, 2013 (top) and Sept. 28, 2014 of the changing glacier from Fred Fern, one of my readers who is alarmed at the speed and scope of climate change on our coastal environment.

Fred is a longtime Valley resident who has spent much of his recreational time fishing local marine waters, plus inlets on the west coast of the Island and mainland. During the past few years his emphasis has changed from fishing to photography and exploring inlets and estuaries up and down the coast.

He still has a downrigger on his boat and fishing tackle is on board but it is rarely used. Instead he carries a kayak and cameras for venturing up the inlets on his picture-taking adventures. Over the last few years Fred and his buddy Will Lebus have taken thousands of photographs of our changing coastline. They frequently do their exploring in the company of a small group of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts.

His current short-term goals are to create a photographic record of our remote coastal inlets and estuaries as they are at this point in time. He is convinced that the ocean is rising much faster than we think.

Fred owns a small floating lodge located in a west coast of Vancouver Island inlet that caters to kayakers. His concerns are based over many years of close observation of changes in our marine environment. He makes an interesting point when you take a picture of a remote inlet at high tide and then try to speculate what it will be like after a sea level rise of one meter; which is forecast for the end of the century. The places they are taking their pictures are mostly remote areas that have no development. In some cases they have discovered considerable material from the recent Japanese earthquake and accompanying tsunami; otherwise the majority of the inlets have minimal stuff on their shorelines.

The pictures with this column were taken from the nature observation stand on the Dyke Rood with a high powered telephoto lens. I am not certain how far it is as the crow flies, but I would suggest it is in excess of 40 kilometres.  I respectfully suggest you take time to really look at the two photos and especially the Sept. 28, 2014 picture. The increased rock exposed on mountain by the melting glacier is truly amazing.

If you are interested in reading some of the recent literature on the subject I would recommend reading the following books that have just been published and are getting international attention.

1. Don’t Even Think About It  – Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change – By George Marshall

2. This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. This book has been on several best seller lists since it was released about two months ago.

Thousands of scientists world wide are urging governments to act to curb the spiralling threat to life on earth from increased green-house gases we are producing from burning fossil fuels. It would be encouraging if some of our politicians at all levels showed more concern.

Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.