As Canada Heats Up, Officials Scramble to Keep Up

"Canada is getting hotter faster than ever before and at a faster rate than almost any other country," reports Anna Mehler Paperny, and the country's infrastructure, public health, and economy are vulnerable to unforeseen impacts.
January 24, 2013, 10am PST | Erica Gutiérrez
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As Canadian communities begin to apply new temperature norms, a decennial task, they are faced with abnormal trends. "Average temperatures are rising across the board, during winter most of all. In the past 65 years, Canada’s national average winter temperature has risen 3.2 degrees," reports Anna Mehler Paperny. She adds, "Rain, snow, sleet and hail storms are becoming more erratic. What were once considered exceptional weather patterns – the kind researchers reject to avoid skewing their data – are becoming common." 

"Canada’s infrastructure wasn’t built for this kind of climate," notes Paperny. "And much of the burden falls on municipal governments, with road, sewer and transit systems that can barely cope with existing weather conditions, let alone future vagaries." Adapting to these higher temperatures is becoming a challenge for local public health officials trying to assist vulnerable populations, and for cities and developers dealing with changes to building codes. Even insurance companies and apple farmers are feeling the effects of erratic weather.

“Traditionally, in the whole area of climate change, almost 99 per cent of the discussion has focused on mitigating,” said Blair Feltmate, who runs Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Project. "But 'climate change is a done deal. There’s nothing we can do to turn it off. … How do we adapt to that new reality?'”

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Published on Monday, January 21, 2013 in The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
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