Gold Level Partners
By Brightspot Climate and Walker Environmental
The Banff Marathon has been a world leader in recognizing and responding to the threat of climate change. This year will mark the fourth year that the Marathon has a carbon neutral footprint, and although we know that sounds like a good thing, it is important to remember why we do what we do. It can be difficult to relate to climate change when it’s only discussed in abstract terms, so we thought we’d explain the visible impact climate change has and will have on Banff National Park.
According to a recent report by Environment Canada and Parks Canada, climate change will alter the climactic zones of 31 of Canada’s 39 national parks—Banff included. But what does that actually mean?
It means that several plant and animal species that currently call Banff home may face extinction not only from rising temperatures, but also from forest fires and drought. If they survive those, then they will have to compete with southern non-native species who are likely to invade as their own ecosystems change. Deer and elk have already started migrating further south, which places them at a greater risk of being killed by cars and trains. As climate change will have a disastrous impact on plants and animals, so too, humans will be affected.
Receding glaciers are probably the most referenced impact of climate change when it comes to Banff National park, and while it is true that glaciers like Athabasca lose 16,000,000 cubic metres of ice each year, why does this concern us? Glaciers less than 100 metres thick are likely to disappear within the next 20 years, and when they melt, they release pollutants that have been trapped in the ice. This has an enormous impact on our water systems for which most of Southern Alberta relies. It also means that rivers may run high in spring but dry by the end of summer, affecting agriculture and countless ecosystems that rely on the river.
We hope these concrete examples bolster your support for the offset initiatives of not only the Banff Marathon, but also your daily lives. Small changes lead to big impacts, and while we want to encourage you to still do the things you love—and visit our amazing national parks—there are many ways we can enjoy our beautiful country in environmentally responsible ways.