By Julia Prinselaar, EcoSuperior Environmental Programs
It’s a topic usually reserved for small-talk and casual conversation, but more and more, the weather is becoming a subject of society’s regular discourse. Scan the newspapers, internet, and social media, and you’ll find no shortage of stories and videos capturing extreme weather events around the world.
In our own backyards, we have already experienced the impacts of changing weather patterns. Hail, wind, and snow storms, heavy rain, and extreme temperature variability in recent years show how the impacts of climate change can have high costs for the community as a whole. This summer’s flash flooding in Nolalu washed out roads and properties, forcing several residents out of their homes.
Events like these have spin-off effects that impact biodiversity and our natural environment, local services and infrastructure, community health and safety, and inextricably, our lifestyle and culture.
The explosion of tick populations in our region is one such example. Little more than a decade ago, the Thunder Bay district had almost no presence of ticks. But in recent years, residents are capturing these arachnids by the hundreds—many in city limits—and taking them to the Thunder Bay District Health Unit for identification and testing. While most ticks are harmless to humans, the black-legged or “deer” tick is a common carrier of Lyme disease-causing borrelia bacteria. Previously isolated to areas of the United States, ticks are moving into northern climates once known to offer inhospitable living conditions. But now, longer summers, late frosts, milder winters and deep snowpack are among the contributing factors allowing ticks to overwinter and reproduce in our region. Experts at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit refer to this trend as “one of the best examples of climate change imaginable.”
With these changes in mind, residents of the Lake Superior Basin (Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie) are invited to personalize their stories about climate change through a new online photo contest launched by EcoSuperior in partnership with EarthCare Thunder Bay. My Changing Climate asks how climate change is affecting the daily lives of people and their surroundings, and what they are doing to adapt. Every month from now until next fall, participants can submit their entries for a chance to win monthly prizes and have their pictures featured with EcoSuperior and EarthCare Thunder Bay. Photos can be submitted under the following categories: Natural Environment & Biodiversity; Lifestyle and Culture; Community Health & Safety; and Local Services and Economy.
So get out there, grab your camera, and start snapping! You can promote your photo on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with the hashtag #mychangingclimate. For full entry details, visit ecosuperior.org.