As we were finishing this issue, I came across a video on Twitter of a freeway outside of Vancouver that was submerged in water. It wasn’t the only one. The densely populated urban heart of British Columbia was cut off from the rest of Canada by floods and mudslides after an atmospheric river flowed through it. The busiest port in the country lost access to rail traffic and stranded containers. Hundreds of motorists had to be rescued from non-slip highways by military helicopters. The only way to reach the rest of the country by road was via the United States.
The Flood followed a hot, dry summer in which numerous cities across the region broke long-term temperature records when a heat dome covered much of the Pacific Northwest. At the end of August, the drought had hit the entire province. Vancouver Island, home to ancient temperate rainforests, achieved a level 5 drought, British Columbia’s strictest categorization. Hundreds of forest fires left the region covered in ash and smothered the city itself in smoke. The charred landscape left by the summer drought made the fall floods worse. As I watched this video of a highway covered in brown, muddy water, I noticed that I was seeing a sad microcosm of the premise of this issue: The way very many of us will initially experience climate change through water – either too much of it or not enough. We will flood. Or burn. Or both. In this issue, learn how changes in the water cycle are affecting the world as we begin to experience climate change.