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Stephen Hume

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Focus Magazine Nov/Dec 2016

Sept/Oct 2016.2

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Focus Magazine July/August 2016

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Focus Magazine May/June 2017

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Focus Magazine Nov/Dec 2017

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Focus Magazine Sept/Oct 2018

Focus Magazine Nov/Dec 2018

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Focus Magazine July/August 2019

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COVID-19 Pandemic

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Everything posted by Stephen Hume

  1. THE MORNING the United States became the world’s epicentre in the coronavirus pandemic, I woke to more ancient news. A spring rain drumming on my skylights and a raucous perturbation among nesting waterfowl. The rain dwindled to a drizzle, then a sniffle, then wraiths of mist. The birds subsided into grumbling. I took a hike. I seldom meet anyone on the back trails, less frequently now that we’re social distancing. Above, the sky was steel grey but for a band of intense blue at the eastern horizon. Mt. Baker glittered behind the San Juan Islands in Washington, an epicentre within the
  2. Posted April 17, 2020 Photo: A First Nations midden. A 5,000-year-old BC site shows pandemics have visited the West Coast before—and changed everything. Go to story

    © UBC

  3. A pandemic on the coast around 1750 is suggested by examination and carbon-dating of material found in archaeological excavations near Port Coquitlam VALERIE PATENAUDE was a newly-minted 26-year-old archaeologist in 1978 and in charge of an important excavation at Duke Point in Nanaimo where the provincial government was planning a new ferry terminal. But she was sent to supervise a high priority rescue dig in Port Coquitlam where the Province planned a new highway bypass at Mary Hill near the mouth of the Pitt River. What Patenaude uncovered was what stalks the dreams o
  4. Posted March 31, 2020 Photo: Reduced economic activity has resulted in clearer, cleaner air in the Pacific Northwest. This virus is another evolutionary opportunist, not so different from we humans. Go to story
  5. Posted November 7, 2019 Photo: Logging on McLauglin Ridge As the Island's ancient forests are logged, whole ecosystems disappear forever, along with their superior ability to sequester carbon. Go to story
  6. Posted July 2019 Photo: Forest fires menacing Williams Lake residential district in July 2017 Climate change is exacerbating forest fires, including—perhaps especially—where the wild meets suburbia. Go to story
  7. Posted March 6, 2019 Photo: Seining Pacific herring in the Salish Sea near Parksville The commercial herring roe fishery in the Salish Sea may be the final nail in the coffin of chinook, resident orca and seabirds. Go to story
  8. Posted September 1, 2019 Photo: Second-growth timber from forest surrounding Cowichan Lake stacked up at a log sort The logic of a watershed, including development and forestry’s role in its demise, is playing out sadly in the Cowichan Valley. Go to story
  9. This virus is another evolutionary opportunist, not so different from we humans. THE MORNING the United States became the world’s epicentre in the coronavirus pandemic, I woke to more ancient news. A spring rain drumming on my skylights and a raucous perturbation among nesting waterfowl. The rain dwindled to a drizzle, then a sniffle, then wraiths of mist. The birds subsided into grumbling. I took a hike. I seldom meet anyone on the back trails, less frequently now that we’re social distancing. Above, the sky was steel grey but for a band of intense blue at the eastern h
  10. The clinic attracts Canada’s best aspiring public-interest environmental lawyers to work on cases for community groups. SHOULD YOU WANT TO TRACK DOWN one of British Columbia’s most important shapers of public policy regarding environmental protection, better have your GPS handy. There’s no glitzy storefront to brand the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria. No swanky offices with plush carpet, oak panelling, and some elegantly-tailored watchdog receptionist. In keeping with its humble origins as a student initiative launched almost 25 years ago, it’s tucked a
  11. Scientists are now saying global climate change will usher in even higher seas and more flooding than previously predicted. FIFTY YEARS AGO, I was an indifferent student drifting through random courses. In my post-teen ennui, I mostly hung around the student newspaper office drinking terrible coffee in the hope of chatting up a girl. The furthest thing from my mind was that my life was actually an après nous le déluge moment; that in my lifetime I’d be contemplating floods of biblical proportions that, over the next 50 years, will likely force close to a million Canadians from
  12. As they are logged, whole ecosystems disappear forever, along with their superior ability to sequester carbon. GLOOM AND SILENCE lodged in my memory first. An occasional shaft of golden light lanced between immense trees. They towered like the columns of some ancient Greek temple. If there was a breeze in the foliage, its rustle was muffled by the dense canopy hundreds of feet above. It was 1956. I was nine. My father had taken me on my first real hike into the back country. A stand of old-growth Douglas fir on Vancouver Island (Photo by David Broadland)
  13. The logic of a watershed, including development and forestry’s role in its demise, is playing out sadly in the Cowichan Valley. A NEAR-SILENT CURRENT SLIPS THROUGH WILLOW RUN. The jade-green swirl of eddies and back-eddies causes darker reflections of trees to ripple in the August glare. Here and there, the slick surface boils over a hidden boulder, or abruptly sucks down with a wet slurp into some bottom declivity. I’ve been coming to the Cowichan River for more than 60 years. It never fails to offer instruction in the mysterious, miraculous, astonishingly complex interconnec
  14. Climate change is exacerbating forest fires, including—perhaps especially—where the wild meets suburbia. FOR TERRIFYING SPECTACLE, few events match the full-throated fury of a crowning forest fire. Such a fire moves fast. Sheets of flame flash through the canopy under a seething orange wall as high as a 30-storey skyscraper, with pillars of smoke that can tower 50 times that height. I live in Greater Victoria’s forested fringe—the “wildland-urban interface” in Fire Boss lingo. Like many, I’m watching trees around me die from climate warming. I confess, there is now seldom a da
  15. How is a metals manufacturing plant in the midst of a fish-bearing estuary even possible? WINTRY LIGHT SPLINTERED THE HORIZON above the Saanich Peninsula. A flooding tide announced itself. First a faint slurping over mud flats. Then an almost imperceptible jostling of driftwood, a stirring of the sedges and the occasional surge and splash of something off in the early morning twilight—maybe a dog otter hunting the tide line. Maybe that rarity now, a big fish. I shrugged deeper into my sweater, watching the lights come on at Cowichan Bay through ghostly breath, warm splashes of
  16. The commercial herring roe fishery in the Salish Sea may be the final nail in the coffin of chinook, resident orca and seabirds. In June of 1893, a small steam tug thumped past Nanaimo. Abruptly, the sea began to seethe. It was a herring school so vast it took three hours to traverse. The school was 70 kilometres across. A century earlier, Captain George Vancouver’s log for June 1792 recorded another astonishing sight—whale spouts at every point of the compass. They were humpback whales. Herring provide up to half a humpback’s daily energy requirements. The herring school
  17. As this historian shows, the Royal BC Museum has proved a resilient, adaptive and unusually far-sighted institution. MORE THAN 60 YEARS AGO, while my mother shopped, I’d laze away unsupervised summer afternoons in the public galleries of the ornate east wing of British Columbia’s iconic legislature buildings. It was another world from our present provincial museum’s post-modernist structure, purpose-built in 1968 for dramatic dioramas, dynamic displays and public engagement—even now being modernized for the next 50 years of our digitally-enhanced century. The
  18. The perils faced by killer whales forewarn of an über-threat—the unravelling of the ecosystems upon which humans also depend. EDGED BY POWERFUL RIPTIDES and the foam-laced menace of Boiling Reef, muscular currents that once bedevilled Spanish sailing masters still churn past cliffs fringed with peeling arbutus. Gulls wheel and squabble over bait fish pushed up by predators below. Vigilant eagles perch in ancient Douglas firs that were saplings when the Magna Carta was yet unsigned. This is the southernmost tip of Saturna Island, easternmost of British Columbia’s scattered Sout
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