Will Calgary Floods Deliver Canada's Climate Wake-Up Call?

Calgary found out the hard way that you don't have to be a coastal city to experience the waterborne ravages of a changing climate. For years, warnings from scientists and analysts have been ignored. Will the "Great Flood" achieve what they couldn't?
June 25, 2013, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Alberta, always a geography of maximum weather, is now climate change central in Canada due to exponential growth in human communities and all in the path of increasing floods, droughts, fires and hail storms," writes Andrew Nikiforuk. And exhibit number one is the "Great Flood" that inundated Calgary late last week. 

"So here's what happened in the semi-arid Bow River basin (four per cent of Alberta) and it was largely predicted by climate scientists and water experts: An 'extreme' weather event fell upon us like some Texas belly washer, and left tens of thousands homeless," says Nikiforuk. "Damage will total in the billions."

"The speed and scale of the event 'stunned' Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a climate change skeptic, and it mortified Premier Alison Redford, whose deficit plagued government hasn't budgeted for disasters, let alone the future. (One 2011 report catalogued Alberta's reticence on the issue this way: 'Leadership on climate change adaptation from senior levels in all departments is weak.')"

"The Great Flood, which punched a giant hole in the TransCanada Highway in Canmore, swelled rivers and undermined infrastructure built for, well, a more stable and reliable climate. The flood also exposed some market-driven deceptions about geography and basic hydrology."

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Published on Monday, June 24, 2013 in The Tyee
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