‘Pre-Flood’: Growing urgency to adapt to the climate crisis

The world is rapidly heading towards a tipping point in climate change. Floods, fires and heat waves are raging. In Canada, as elsewhere, the reality is that adaptation is both urgent and necessary.

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The Red Cross distributed $27 million in Fiona donations. Most of it was donated to PEI, Nova Scotia.

As that knowledge grows, the federal government on Thursday announced a $1.6 billion spending package to help states, local governments and indigenous peoples address the impacts already being witnessed across the country.

Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair believes it is far more cost-effective to address climate-related adaptation measures first, rather than opening the purse strings after tragedy strikes.

“For every dollar spent on prevention and infrastructure enhancement, we save $10,” Blair said at a press conference in Prince Edward Island.

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Click to play video: 'Further adaptation to climate change needed after storm Fiona: Expert'

More climate change adaptation needed after storm Fiona: expert

Adaptation measures, he said, include considering “building codes, where and how to build” and efforts to “develop a national flood insurance program” to better inform planning decisions. It is included. Better flood mapping is also part of the government’s strategy.

One community that points the way in that regard is Peterborough, Ontario, about two hours east of Toronto. Nearly 20 years ago, it was severely affected by floods of epic proportions that no senior citizen who has experienced a flood will ever forget.

Residents described the water as “not drops, but buckets.” Another resident said, “It’s like Niagara Falls.”

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Peterborough Officials and Residents Reflect on 15th Anniversary of Historic Flood

On that day in July 2004, more than 150mm of rain fell on the city in less than an hour. Since that historic event, Peterborough has been working on upgrading its infrastructure.

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The city also received federal funding for flood mapping and emergency response through Ottawa’s National Disaster Mitigation Program.

“It took nearly 6,000 hours of work,” says Senior Watershed Project Manager Ian Boland, referring to the integrated flood model his city implemented.

According to Boland, the goal is to map “all sewers, storm drains, all culverts and waterways” and provide a system to both predict and respond to floods wherever they occur in or around the city. is to create a model.

Advanced flood mapping

Sandbags, levees, and pump stations are what usually come to mind when thinking about community flood response. However, these tend to be passive measures.

In contrast, cities are increasingly adopting innovative and proactive approaches that stem from the fact that climate risks are here now and growing.

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Heavy rains in southern Alberta heighten flooding concerns, flashback to 2013 disaster

That’s where data and mapping can play a big role.

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For the past five years, Peterborough officials have been working with a company called Ecopia AI to collect raw data on various surfaces around the city. This includes impervious areas such as parking lots, as well as absorbent areas such as parks and lawn areas.

The high-resolution maps generated are used to create what is called a “hydraulic” model of the city. This approach allows planners to create real-time scenarios showing water flowing over impervious surfaces and calculate how they affect the rest of a city’s storm management system.

This is a more comprehensive approach than the traditional method of simply studying water flows such as rivers. A more sophisticated mapping allows you to generate scenarios and plan accordingly.

But there are still uncertainties.

Need for adaptation

The Earth is rapidly approaching a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This means catastrophic climate impacts if global average temperatures are exceeded. Moreover, given how much fossil fuels the world continues to use, there is a growing echo that the 1.5C target is simply not achievable.

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Consider the need to not only mitigate climate change, i.e. reduce emissions, but adapt to the harsh realities of today.

A shift towards more adaptations, including flooding, is starting to gain momentum.

Last August, the federal government released one of the most comprehensive reports on flood risk in Canada.

Jason Thistlethwaite, a climate adaptation expert at Western University, has worked closely with Ottawa on flood management responses and was a key contributor to this report. Cities are often at the forefront of climate risk, he says, pointing the way forward.

“Local governments take this very seriously because they are on the front line. They suffer the most physical risks, yet they have the least resources to do something about it. It is.”

There are real benefits to taking this job seriously, he adds.

“In the future, we will look at municipalities that are known to be climate resilient, and their property values ​​will rise as people will want to live there.”

The Solution You Need Now

For those affected by these disasters, the funds needed to adapt to the growing challenge of climate change are not readily available.

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In British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, farmers whose land was inundated by a series of atmospheric rivers last fall are still awaiting compensation, in some cases. Among them is dairy farmer Philip Graham.

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“It’s pretty frustrating,” he told Global BC of the uncertainty over compensation. “You do all this paperwork and you hear on the news, ‘Oh, we’re covering, we’re helping people, we’re doing all these things for everybody.’ increase.

“They say they haven’t forgotten me.”

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Comprehensive Planning Needed to Prevent Future Flooding in the Fraser Valley

Ottawa has pledged $5 billion in flood relief to British Columbia, but the money won’t come overnight. That leaves many flood-prone areas of the state with patchy systems of makeshift flood barriers known as isolated levees.

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In other words, no one knows what the next storm or heat event will bring, so change will never happen quickly enough.

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Where AI can help fight climate change, and where it can’t

It may not be possible to “stop” floods like the one that hit Peterborough in 2004 or Calgary in 2013, but how to deal with the new and evolving climate realities? , there is a growing sense that more funds are needed. .

In Peterborough, that strong line of attack has already formed, and Borland says better mapping shows it can.

“We didn’t want it to be a shelf thing,” he says.

‘Pre-Flood’: Growing urgency to adapt to the climate crisis

Source link ‘Pre-Flood’: Growing urgency to adapt to the climate crisis

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