Are the forest fires ripping through British Columbia’s vast stands of beetle-killed forests on the parched Interior plateau a portent of the growing economic consequences of impending climate change?
There’s compelling evidence they are, and that we should be paying close attention.
First, there’s the trend to mild winters that permit the pine beetle, whose population is normally controlled by severe temperatures, to both grow explosively and broaden its range exponentially. In a scant decade, what was a minor economic pest has morphed into an environmental peril with a huge price. B.C.’s forests are a $10 billion segment of the economy which sustains 56,000 direct jobs and $2.4 billion in employee earnings.