How to Dramatically Alter British Columbia's Carbon Footprint

A tree-less B.C. would be a carbon catastrophe.

Image
Reuters

Largely thanks to its abundant forests, British Columbia is a net carbon sink, meaning it absorbs or sequesters more carbon dioxide emissions than it creates. Take away those forests, though, and the picture gets ugly.

As you can see in this interactive map from The Tyee, turning on and off the various sources and sinks of carbon dioxide can wildly change the province's carbon footprint. A B.C. without its many, many maples and pines would overturn its carbon calm by giving it a net production of more than 37 million tons of CO2 per year. Keeping those trees in play helps the province suck up about 18 million more tons of CO2 per year than it produces.

By factoring the carbon dioxide emissions and absorption rates of various natural and human-made elements in the Canadian province, the map creates a rough tally of just how much carbon is being produced and sequestered. The three main culprits of carbon creation are industry, roads, and communities.

Due to the province's forests vastly outnumbering its roughly 4.4 million people, the trees are sucking up far more carbon than is being emitted by human-based activities, driving from Kamloops to Kelowna, for example, or digging up coal in Sparwood.

If you zoom in, the regional imbalances become more stark, especially in urban centers like Vancouver. As you can see here, the metropolitan region is a net producer of carbon dioxide to the tune of almost 15 million tons per year. Even its forests are kicking out some CO2.

(The Tyee)

So while its forests are admirable, even carbon-negative B.C. could still stand to cut down on some of its urban-based emissions.

Top image: The skyline of Vancouver, as seen from Stanley Park. Credit: Andy Clark / Reuters

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.