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Understanding Water Resources

AN INSURANCE INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE ON DOING BUSINESS DIFFERENTLY: “By focusing on adapting to climate change we can work together constructively to keep Canadians out of harm’s way,” wrote Craig Stewart in an opinion piece published in the Financial Post


Canadians are starting to get used to news stories about springtime flooding. Although flooding has and will always happen, the frequency and intensity of floods are becoming more prolific. “The IBC-sponsored report, Combating Canada’s Rising Floods Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option, provides a framework for making decisions about the return on investment of green infrastructure deployed as a climate-adaptation measure,” wrote Craig Stewart.

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“Blue Ecology is a means to focus, with new watery eyes, on the current crisis of climate change. A new culture of water is needed in order for humans to adapt,” wrote Michael Blackstock, a champion for interweaving Indigenous Cultural Knowledge and Western Science


“Hydrologists are encouraged to embrace the companion Blue Ecology water cycle that is meant to enhance Western science’s hydrological cycle by providing a holistic cultural context. Hydrologists and water managers could also communicate complex climate change impacts to the public, using common sense terms. Hydrologists and water managers can use the hydrological and Blue Ecology cycles to help explain how and why the climate is changing. Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies,” stated Michael Blackstock.

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LIFE AFTER CARBON: “Part of urban renaturing is a restorative exercise, a way to reinstate balance and sustainability to the city’s relationship with nature,” wrote John Cleveland, in a book about cities that are reinventing themselves to combat climate change (published in 2018)


“A number of cities have launched efforts to protect and restore the ecosystems and biodiversity of their urban regions. They want to ensure and enhance the delivery of essential services provided by nature outside, as well as inside, their boundaries,” wrote John Cleveland. “The growing urban attention to ecosystems extends to maintaining and increasing an urban region’s biodiversity, which is key to maintaining ecosystem health. Cities generally use a combination of regulation and investments to manage ecosystems.”

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EARTH FACES WIDESPREAD DROUGHT: “While, as expected, rainfall is increasing with global warming — drier soil means water is being absorbed and made useless, rather than replenishing the earth’s vital river systems,” says Professor Ashish Sharma of the University of New South Wales


A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like conditions will become the new normal, especially in regions that are already dry. “While the more extreme, life threatening floods and storms are increasing, the more moderate floods which fill dams and reservoirs, and are the basis for our water supply, are reducing with the rise in global temperatures,” stated Ashish Sharma.

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THE STORY OF 2018 WAS CLIMATE CHANGE: “To anyone who worries about making a case for climate action based on the weather, I would simply ask: Do you have a better idea?” – David Leonhardt, New York Times


“A global heat wave. Extreme rainstorms. Severe droughts. Rapidly intensifying Gulf Coast storms. The deadliest wildfire in California history. And a presidential administration that’s trying to make the problem worse. There were more obvious big news stories than climate change in 2018. But there weren’t any more important stories, in my view. That’s why it is my choice for the top story of the year. It’s the one most likely to affect the lives of future generations,” wrote David Leonhardt.

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ARCTIC REPORT CARD: “The Arctic is undergoing its most unprecedented transition in human history. We’re seeing this continued increase of warmth pervading across the entire Arctic system,” said Dr. Emily Osborne, an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (December 2018)


“In 2018, warming air and ocean temperatures continued to drive broad long-term change across the polar region, pushing the Arctic into uncharted territory,” stated Emily Osborne. The warmer Arctic air causes the jet stream to become “sluggish and unusually wavy”. That has possible connections to extreme weather events elsewhere on the globe, including last winter’s severe storms in the United States and a bitter cold spell in Europe known as the “Beast From the East.” The rapid warming in the upper north, known as Arctic amplification, is tied to many factors.

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TOO SMALL TO FAIL – HOW COMMUNITIES CAN PREPARE FOR BIGGER STORMS: “Smaller scale, agile efforts to limit flood risk can collectively contribute to ensuring the resiliency of communities,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, upon release of new report showcasing green infrastructure projects


“In recent years we have seen a dramatic rise in insurable losses related to extreme weather events in Canada. The increase in costs is due in part to flooding, and this new report identifies some practical mitigation measures municipalities and NGOs can take to limit the impacts of bigger storms that we expect to see in coming years,” stated Dr. Blair Feltmate. “The lesson of this report rests with its focus on the utility of small-scale, local flood mitigation projects.”

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“Factors like land-use and land-cover changes, and vegetation changes have altered the underlying surface conditions and hydrological feedbacks that have, in turn, increased storm runoff,” report Columbia University researchers


“Our work helps explain the underlying physical mechanisms related to the intensification of precipitation and runoff extremes,” Pierre Gentine said. “This will help improve flood forecasting and early-warning alerts. Our findings can help provide scientific guidance for infrastructure and ecosystem resilience planning and could help formulate strategies for tackling climate change.” Gentine’s team plans next to try to partition the impacts of thermodynamic and atmosphere dynamics on precipitation to gain a deeper understanding about precipitation intensification.

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“We may have crossed an invisible threshold into a new climate regime.” – Bob Sandford, EPCOR Chair in Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health


“This past summer, if you wanted to know what climate change will mean to your future, all you had to do was be outside to see what is to come. The entire Northern Hemisphere was impacted by extreme weather – drought, forest fires or flooding,” stated Bob Sandford. “With some 560 forest fires burning in B.C. this past summer, thousands on evacuation notices and smoke that could impact most of western Canada and the northern US well into autumn, many are now thinking about where we are headed and just how fast we may get there.”

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NEW NORMAL IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The impact of climate change is yet another thing to add to the list of worries for any finance minister,” wrote Keith Baldrey, Global BC political commentator


“As Mother Nature takes her toll on vast swaths of this province, one of the folks nervously watching those disasters unfold surely has to be B.C.’s finance minister,” wrote Keith Baldrey. “Weather patterns seem to be changing due to climate change with potentially dire consequences for the government treasury. Massive flooding and fires may become the norm going forward, and so future provincial budgets may have to deal with much bigger costs than in the past in terms of dealing with disasters.”

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