The ice can be seen starting to form on the shoreline of Spider Lake.

Time to take notice of tipping points

The concept of “tipping points” when looking at climate change seems too complex and remote to have much meaning to the pursuits of recreational fishing and hunting in the span of a lifetime. But maybe it is time to take a second look at some of the tipping points going on around us and consider their implications.

Life systems and changes are going on at a continuous rate that has much to do with the ecological changes and physical shifts that make up the natural world. Tipping points can be instantaneous or centuries in making changes in nature.

For example the tipping point for water, from a liquid to a solid (as in ice) is 0 degrees Celsius and from liquid to a gas (as in steam) is 100 degrees Celsius. These tipping points are part of our everyday lives and we seldom think about it.

The photograph with the column shows two stages of water’s tipping points in our local situation. The rain has changed to snow and the surface of the lake is about to change from a liquid state to a solid as it freezes.

Nature is full of examples of natural tipping points. If you have fished the Interior lakes of our province you may be aware of the common condition of “winter kill” where the trout in a lake will all be dead in the spring when the ice comes off. They die from a lack of oxygen in the water under the ice that creates a tipping point beyond which they cannot survive.

If you spend much time travelling the northern Interior you will see vast expanses of open land, dead trees or new grasslands that were created by a small bug called a pine beetle where it reached a tipping point in our pine forests so it could grow in numbers and ended up killing millions of square kilometres of pine forest as they ate themselves out of house and home. It is an ongoing climatic tipping point as they eat their way across our northern pine forests. They have a direct influence on our hunting.

If you were growing scallops off Nile Creek you would realize that your scallops have hit a tipping point where they die due to acidification in our marine waters brought on by increased carbon-dioxide dissolved in the water as a result of climate change.

That tipping point took some time before it reached the lethal stage. If you enjoy oysters, this growing  tipping point of increased acidification in local waters should be a concern  because our oysters may not be able to form shells in the not too distant future.

Over the past few months we have been made aware of the huge mass of warming ocean water that is occupying much of the northeast Pacific Ocean from Oregon to western Alaska. This also includes the western coastlines of British Columbia.

That warm water has implications for Pacific salmon. Salmon are not a species of fish that do well in warm water and it is a threat to their survival. There are also fewer food sources. With regards to the tipping point for our salmon and warm water, it is speculation as to whether or not the condition prevails until our fish seek colder waters in the Arctic and leave the new warm Pacific to tuna and jellyfish.

There is another tipping point for salmon in climate change that leads to warmer summers, lower snowfall and glacier melts – with the result that rivers have low waters that are too warm for salmon to make their annual spawning runs. These multiple tipping points will be sudden as in a single spawning season.

As a  prediction for 2015 I see increased numbers of salmon migrating down our cooler inside waters this year.

 

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.

 

 

Just Posted

Merville resident looking for help to name original settler families

Janice Isenor is hoping to figure out which families settled where in Merville 100 years ago

Cultural sharing for Comox Valley School District song unveiling

After nearly a year in the making, a special gift was presented… Continue reading

Best of World Community Film Fest screens Tuesday

The votes are in from the recent World Community Film Festival and… Continue reading

Union Bay Improvement District board apologizes to trustee; deadline remains for other demands

UBID board complies with one of the demands of a letter threatening legal action

Valley’s Women’s Memorial March honours those missing and murdered

On Thursday morning shortly before noon, around 60 people gathered to honour… Continue reading

Snowy day in Courtenay

The Comox Valley received another snowfall overnight Friday. It may not last… Continue reading

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Man in Vancouver Island hotel shooting pleads guilty to second-degree murder

Brandon Tyler Woody, from Victoria, to be sentenced in late March in B.C. Supreme Court

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Most Read