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Climate scientist joins lawyers to help BC communities understand, prepare for climate impacts

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

VANCOUVER, Musqueam, Squamish & Tsleil-Waututh Territories – Dr. Silvie Harder, a scientist who spent the last several years examining the impacts of climate change on the Arctic, is returning to her home province of British Columbia to help communities understand the impacts that climate change is having here. West Coast Environmental Law is proud to welcome Dr. Harder as its Climate Scientist. 

“We can’t keep pretending that climate change is a far off, future event that will harm someone else. BC has seen wildfires, flooding, mountain pine beetles and drought, all of which were caused or made worse by climate change,” said Harder. “I want to help British Columbians connect the dots between climate change and the impacts that we are already experiencing – so that they can keep themselves safe from future disasters.”

“We need to start treating climate change like the public safety and emergency preparedness issue that it is,” said Harder. “Climate impacts are sneaking up on us, and unless we want to face flood after fire after drought, we need to start understanding those risks and preparing our communities for a hotter future.”

Dr. Harder’s experience researching and communicating about climate impacts will help bridge the gaps between climate science, community involvement and local decision-making. Part of her work at West Coast will involve meeting with community members, policy-makers and others to discuss the realities they will face due to climate change – and the resources needed to keep BC communities safe.

“During my PhD work, I became acutely aware of the knowledge gap that often exists between scientists and the general public and I feel that as a climate scientist, communication of clear information about climate change and environmental issues is of the highest importance. By connecting with BC residents and decision-makers on the ground (or online) we hope to advance public understanding and boost support for policies that help our communities mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis,” Harder said.

“The economic recovery from COVID-19 is an important time to start looking at what we need to do to keep ourselves safe from future disasters – including those from climate change,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer and the head of West Coast’s Climate Program. “Developing green infrastructure and flood protection, reducing wildfire risk and preparing for droughts costs money up front but will create jobs and protect us from future disasters for years to come.”

In the coming months, West Coast Environmental Law will invite applications from interested community groups to on partnering to examine local climate impacts, the connection to the global climate crisis and how our communities can become more prepared for those impacts.

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For more information, please contact:

Dr. Silvie Harder | Climate Scientist
514-652-5987, sharder@wcel.org

Andrew Gage | Staff Lawyer
250-412-9784, agage@wcel.org