Saturday, August 22, 2015

David Phillips' Weather Whiplash Warning

It snowed yesterday in Alberta, just to the west of Calgary. Canada's rainforest has turned tinder dry. The east has experienced a curious summer that seemed unable to make up its mind - wet or dry, cold or hot.  Let's put it this way: things have changed.

EnviroCan's senior climatologist, David Phillips, warns our municipalities remain unprepared for what's coming leaving Canadians vulnerable to "weather whiplash."

In the last five years, Canadian cities have been buried in record-breaking snowfall, scorched by unprecedented wildfires, blasted by tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning strikes, limping from one natural disaster to the next as the bills for emergency repairs climb.

"You've got to keep pace with it and we haven't kept pace with it," David Phillips said in a recent interview.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which is calling on the next federal government to invest an extra $1.5 billion a year in infrastructure, says that's easier said than done.

"Municipalities are ready, willing and able ...What we need is stable, long-term funding sufficient to cover off these costs that we know are already in a deficit position," president Raymond Louie said Friday from Vancouver.

1.5-billion dollars sounds like a lot but it's actually just a drop in a very large bucket. Some experts believe Canada needs to be spending hundreds of billions of dollars - now - on rehabilitating, reinforcing and, where necessary, replacing core infrastructure to meet the challenges of a far more demanding climate.

That sounds ominous to a public that thinks they need more tax cuts and prefer their politicians to share their enthusiasm for paring government to the bone. Too late will they discover that a defunded government is incapable of providing core infrastructure without which there'll be no modern economy and precious few jobs.

My little town is a classic example of municipal dysfunction. They're still planning (only planning mind you)  for 1-metre sea level rise by 2100, a polyanna-ish forecast that's now hopelessly out of date.  You can spend a lot of money preparing for 1-metre of sea level rise that will be largely wasted if that prediction turns out to be grossly understated.  Meanwhile, even as residents are beset by severe water restrictions due to drought, the municipal council plays chamber of commerce to happily churn out building permits to all and any who apply.  The notion that if you can't provide water security to your existing residents maybe you should put a moratorium on explosive growth until you get the water problem resolved is considered heretical.

I wish we could see the light but we might have to open our eyes first.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The people in my little town used to dump fertilizer, animal shit and dead animals into the river. They would build bonfires in the spring on the river bank to attract fish so they could spear them. But, eventually, the river became so polluted they couldn't even do that.

My little town.