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Climate Change & Toronto

TOperson

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That's a sociological phenomenon, not a scientific one in the context of what we're talking about.
Actually there is some scientific research on why & how people think/believe what they do about climate change.

Anyway, that whole "one event doesn't mean the climate is changing" argument is SO tired. Climate study is essentially the study of a whole lot of weather events. Weather is the pages, climate is the book, as they say.
 

TheTigerMaster

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After last night's record-setting storm, can we finally admit that the climate is changing? Are we going to discuss how Toronto can prepare for it?
Saying climate change caused this storm is like singling out a drop of water for causing a flood in your basement. Yes, climate change could have contributed to Tue storm, but we'll never know if it caused the storm.

But yes, climate change is real. I doubt anyone here on UT denies this.
 

TOperson

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TOperson,

The problem is that the science confirming anthropogenic climate change is actually very solid and thorough.

Linking a specific event like yesterday's freak storm to climate change is much shakier and is inherently unscientific. To those who are uninformed, it paints a picture where those bringing up climate change are basing their beliefs on uncorroborated anecdotal evidence - which is far from the truth when it comes to the scientific community.

We are in an era of increased connectivity now more than ever. In the 1950s people in other continents probably never heard of hurricane Hazel - whereas today Toronto's floods are on the BBC front page. This means that your perception of whether freak weather events are more frequent or not is worthless: These days for the first time ever you can find out instantly about floods in Pakistan or China or Russia or Mississauga.

The big numbers and trends clearly demonstrate that human activities have altered the earth's atmosphere, and learning the details of very thorough models is actually quite scary. Most of the CO2 we have released into the air has ultimately been absorbed by the oceans, but when these become over-saturated the scale of change will be catastrophic for many. This would be true regardless of freak weather events, and freak weather events would happen regardless of anthropogenic climate change.
Still missing my point. Climate is a whole lot of single events. You cannot separate single events from climate.

My thought was that yesterday's storm - which came straight on the heels of a bunch of other floods - might be a tipping point for some people, who might now be prepared to discuss CC.

That whole "we just hear about more weather events now" is another tired argument. It's true that we hear more, but that doesn't influence my thinking. What DOES influence my thinking is that scientists have checked it all out and there are actually MORE freaky weather events.

I love how I'm the one posting links to scientific research yet people assume I don't know the basics about climate change. Like I didn't actually read the info on those sites?
 

TOperson

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Saying climate change caused this storm is like singling out a drop of water for causing a flood in your basement. Yes, climate change could have contributed to Tue storm, but we'll never know if it caused the storm.
Actually I never said what I think caused the storm. Climate is too complex for that. But freak storms add up, and enough of them add up to a changed climate.
 

TheTigerMaster

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Alarming study from last year about how climate change will affect Toronto:

Toronto's long-range forecast
A report from the Toronto Environment Office, a summary of a study by SENES Consultants Ltd., predicts some dramatic changes in Toronto's weather between 2040 and 2050, a period it says is "relevant to a large range of infrastructure replacement activities."
Here are some of the findings:
• A 4.4C average annual rise in temperature, including a 5.7C increase in winter and 3.8C in summer.
• The city will see six times as many days when the temperature remains above 24C for 24 hours.
• Slightly more precipitation but with less snow and more rain in the winter. The research forecasts 26 fewer snow days per year.
• Fewer but more extreme rainstorms. The number of winter storms is expected to drop and the number of summer storms remain the same. The amount of rainfall expected in any single day or hour, however, will more than double.
• Heat waves — three or more consecutive days of temperatures above 32C — will increase from 0.57 on average to five a year.
Toronto's Future Weather & Climate Driver Study: Outcomes Report
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/11/11/toronto_failing_to_act_on_alarming_climate_changes_environmentalists.html
 

junior43

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Depending on how much you want to mitigate for these sorts of things, the cost obviously can vary. Do you elevate the lower parts of the DVP? Reinforce/berm the Don, Humber and Rouge? My point was more about, if taxes need to be raised for mitigating this, the funding for transit will be even tougher to get.

Also - If people do take up this cause, they won't accept a 30 year build out, they'll want it done fast, upping the costs.

And yes, I agree, what Toronto got hit with wasn't that bad relatively speaking. No deaths, but lots of floating cars and stranded commuters. I haven't even heard of much basement flooding.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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junior43:

I have a feeling you can't even begin to retrofit the existing system without building alternatives first - that's also part and parcel of the problem with the system - there is little to no redundancy. I don't see it as an "either/or" - planning for extreme conditions should be a requirement for new infrastructure, for one.

No deaths, but lots of floating cars and stranded commuters. I haven't even heard of much basement flooding.
That's a false sense of security - we're lucky this time but we won't always be lucky. If it was only a bit hotter yesterday (say 30s) I can see quite a few health-related issues with transit alone. And I don't know about you, but I have a few co-workers who had suffered/had stories of basement flooding from this event.

AoD
 
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junior43

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junior43:

I have a feeling you can't even begin to retrofit the existing system without building alternatives first - that's also part and parcel of the problem with the system - there is little to no redundancy. I don't see it as an "either/or" - planning for extreme conditions should be a requirement for new infrastructure, for one.

That's a false sense of security - we're lucky this time but we won't always be lucky. And I don't know about you, but I have a few co-workers who had suffered/had stories of basement flooding from this event.

AoD
Totally agree, but they've always planned for extremes (at least for the last 50 years or so). The problem is the goal posts have now been moved on definition of extreme. They used to use Hazel as our once in a century storm. Now that appears to be a 1 in 10 year storm? who knows? These codes/definitions need updating at minimum.

Sad to hear about the flooding. I figured there had to be some it was just overshadowed with the 'bigger' issues.
 

BurlOak

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This storm seems to demonstate that land use is changing in the local watershed. Compared to Hazel, much more of the GTA watershed is built up.

Run off flow, Q = ciA. The effects of this storm are probably more related to the "c" part of the equation and not the "i" part. I understand that Pearson got Hazel type rain but many other areas got nothing out of the ordinary.

where c is a coefficient for land use. (http://members.ozemail.com.au/~eclaus/Q=CiA.htm)

C.......Land Use
0.97 Paved Parking area, >6% slope
0.90 Commercial, >6% slope
0.89 Streets, >6% slope
0.87 Industrial, >6% slope
0.47 Residential 1000m2 block, loam soil >6% slope
0.52 Pasture, loam soil, >6% slope
0.44 Meadow, loam soil, >6% slope
0.34 Cultivated land, loam soil, >6% slope
0.20 Forest, loam soil, >6% slope
 

picard102

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Climate is a whole lot of single events. You cannot separate single events from climate.
And conversely you can't separate one event as proof of a series of events.


My thought was that yesterday's storm - which came straight on the heels of a bunch of other floods - might be a tipping point for some people, who might now be prepared to discuss CC.
It won't. Floods happen. Storms happen. Climate change has been gradual enough that it's not going to provoke a "tipping point" for people who are otherwise unwilling to "be prepared to discuss climate change", whatever that may mean.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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It won't. Floods happen. Storms happen. Climate change has been gradual enough that it's not going to provoke a "tipping point" for people who are otherwise unwilling to "be prepared to discuss climate change", whatever that may mean.
You are assuming the climatic system doesn't have tipping points, which is cozy but not true. There are plenty of evidence in climatic records of sudden changes, and we have identified a couple of mechanisms (e.g. methane release in permafrost) that have the potential to make life unpleasant real quick. Adaptation can only happen so quickly and at untold cost.

As a quick example - remember the annual sea ice cover over the Arctic Ocean? There was hardly any prediction that saw its' collapse and yet that's exactly what's happening. Now that's a relatively benign development but it just shows things with nature aren't as "gradual" as we assume it is.

AoD
 

junior43

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It won't. Floods happen. Storms happen. Climate change has been gradual enough that it's not going to provoke a "tipping point" for people who are otherwise unwilling to "be prepared to discuss climate change", whatever that may mean.
Well, if the DVP continues to get flooded out, it will be a tipping point. Twice now in what? 5 weeks?

Tangential Q - Has the DVP ever been flooded out before this year?
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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Totally agree, but they've always planned for extremes (at least for the last 50 years or so). The problem is the goal posts have now been moved on definition of extreme. They used to use Hazel as our once in a century storm. Now that appears to be a 1 in 10 year storm? who knows? These codes/definitions need updating at minimum.
Except a good chunk of our infrastructure is built for a lesser city with even less margin (if not understanding) of these extreme events - and it shows. It's time to ponder these hard facts - and I have a feeling if we don't do it, the insurance companies will.

AoD
 
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