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A Canadian expert’s view: ‘We are not well prepared for climate change’

‘We are not well prepared’: An expert’s view of climate change and the next big storm, The federal government has struck an expert panel to consider adaptation, By Aaron Wherry, CBC News  Sep 03 How ready are we to cope with the impacts of climate change?”Quite honestly, I believe we are not well prepared,” says Blair Feltmate, a professor at the University of Waterloo and the new chair of an expert panel struck by the federal government to consider what Canadians and their governments should do to prepare.

It was an interesting week for such a panel to be announced.

Houston, of course, is under water. On a smaller scale, thousands of residents in and around Windsor, Ont., were flooded by record rainfall, the second time the area has dealt with historic flooding in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, wildfires in northern Manitoba prompted evacuations from several communities.

The degree to which any single disaster can be linked to climate change will perhaps always be debatable, but these are the sorts of events we have been told to expect: stronger storms, floods and fires.

But then this week only adds to the worrisome tally. Recent years in Canada have been marked by such events as flooding in Calgary and Toronto, and forest fires in Alberta and British Columbia.

“It’s becoming increasingly obvious that climate change is here and the negative impacts associated with the manifestation of extreme weather are significant,” Feltmate says, “and we now need to be working to counter those negative impacts.”

Countering those impacts will require public resources, individual action and political will.

The problem of climate change effectively has to be approached from two directions.

The first is mitigation: reducing the carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere in order to limit further warming and, hopefully, avoid the most catastrophic consequences.

The second is adaptation: preparing communities and individuals to deal with the already unavoidable consequences of climate change, given the amount of carbon we’ve pumped into the atmosphere.

It is the first approach that is most often discussed. It is the second that Feltmate and his fellow panelists are being asked to study.

Threat of flood and fire

Feltmate considers flooding the primary concern.

Storms are capable of dumping enough water in a short enough period of time to overwhelm city sewer systems. As cities have grown, fields and forests have been paved over, leaving water fewer places to go. Urban infrastructure is aging. And homeowners have developed their basements into living space, increasing the cost of damages.

Insurers have been paying out for the consequences. The fire in Fort McMurray, Alta., last year cost a record $3.7 billion. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, spring flooding around Ottawa cost $223 million in insured damages……


September 4, 2017 - Posted by | general

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