|Point-Gatineau Flooding in May 1974|
"The frequency of extreme weather events is increasing, and that's related to climate change," the prime minister said. "We're going to have to understand that bracing for a 100-year storm is maybe going to happen every 10 years. Or every few years."
|Prime Minister Trudeau states storm frequency is increasing|
and ignores issues of land use planning in historical floodplains
when trying to explain flooding in Gatineau in May 2017. Perhaps
our first official "Climate Ken"?
Prime Minister makes false statements in the news article:
Environment Canada scientists has published rainfall trends in Atmosphere-Ocean in 2014 indicating that we are not having more extreme weather, or more frequent 100-year storms. This is link to the journal abstract which states that " The decreasing regional trends for the 5- to 15-minute duration amounts tend to be located in the St. Lawrence region of southern Quebec and in the Atlantic provinces" :
The misconception that storm intensity or frequency is increasing can be traced back to disproved statements by the insurance industry that confused predictions with past observations as clearly shown here:
This work exposed that the media has misreported the facts in the official federal Engineering Climate Datasets. This data - used by engineers to design infrastructure across the country - shows for example that there are twice as many statistically significant DECREASING extreme rainfall trends as increasing ones in southern Ontario. This is the official federal data. My work with Advertising Standards Canada over the past 1 1/2 years has corrected false advertising that storm intensity is increasing. The Prime Minister should educate himself on facts and data before making false statements on storm frequency. Environment Canada has often corrected false reporting by the insurance industry on this topic, for example CBC reporting:
Or recent reporting in Canadian Underwriter:
As Environment Canada states regarding the insurance industry "flub" that 40 year storms are happening every 6 years:
Associate Editor’s Note: In the 2012 report Telling the Weather Story, commissioned to the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Professor Gordon McBean writes: “Weather events that used to happen once every 40 years are now happening once every six years in some regions in the country.” A footnote cites “Environment Canada: Intensity-Duration-Frequency Tables and Graphs.” However, a spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada told Canadian Underwriter that ECCC’s studies “have not shown evidence to support” this statement.
So nobel prize winning scientists have been making up a 'weather story', and the PM has been repeating it.
Many events that are now claimed to be unprecedented and due to climate change are in fact commonplace from a statistical point of view. Even the GO Train flood in Toronto at 2013 was not unprecedented - there was a larger flood 6 weeks before that missed the trains because it happened at night:
The same train was stranded in the same spot in 1981 when there was less pavement in the Don River watershed and less runoff, as shown in this photo:
Engineers, hydrologists, watershed managers, hydraulic engineers/modellers can explain flooding by increased hydrologic stresses (more pavement and more runoff). This is quantifiable and indisputable - here is some example mapping / calculations to show that for Toronto area watersheds:
Mississauga-Toronto Flooding in 2013? Burlington flood in 2014? Climate change or a heck of a lot more pavement? Here are some maps to show the dramatic increase in pavement since the mid 1960's in those areas ... and the creeks are not any bigger than they used to be to convey the runoff:
Important public policies are being created based on mis-reported rainfall trends. This includes expensive climate mitigation plans and taxes to deal with rainfall intensity increases that have NOT occurred. While cheese-eating high school science teachers are making theoretical connections between temperature (global warming) and water vapour holding capacity/extreme rainfall, the real scientists like those at MIT or Columbia are studying the real science and saying these guesstimates of more extreme weather due to higher temperatures are not playing out in the real observations. This is a recent paper on that topic:
Robert Muir, M.A.Sc., P.Eng.
PS - CBC has a nice summary of recurring flooding in Quebec since 1928 at this link
CBC has another great summary from @JudyTrinhCBC showing that this is about poor land use planning decisions (buildings in high risk zones) - 75 % of buildings has a 20% chance of flooding every year being in the 20-year floodplain. Thanks Judy for your stats:
Stats on homes flooded from @ville_gatineau
0 -20 year flood zone: 1428 properties (75% of total) - 20% chance of flooding every year
20 -100 year flood zone: 390 properties - 1-20% chance of flooding every year
outside 100 year flood zone : 70 properties - less than 1% chance of flooding every year
So Prime Minister Trudeau tells us that the storms that affect less than 4% of the properties will happen more often. How about insight on why the other 96% of properties flooded?
Update - after a year of waiting for a response from the PMO on my asking for data to support the PM's statements on past extreme weather trends, I was emailed a response that confused future predictions with past trends. When I pointed the out and asked for information on statements on past trends I was told the PMO's original answer was 'fulsome' - they cc'd the environment minister and closed the file. Environment minister did not respond. So as Mick Jagger sang "I can't get no satisfaction".
The CBC Ombudsman has recently ruled on the accuracy and impartiality of a CBC report on 100 year storm trends and wetland flood mitigation - in a rare decision, it found that CBC violated standards of journalistic integrity when it reported that 100 year storms were increasing and were the cause of more flooding - see details here: https://www.cityfloodmap.com/2019/01/cbc-ombudsman-decision-finds-lack-of.html. Justin Trudeau has made the same statements as the CBC that were deemed to be inaccurate. The PMO failed in the same way the CBC journalists did in trying to confuse the issue, pointing to predicted changes in rainfall instead of justifying past observations. As the CBC Ombudsman said in his 14 page ruling:
"Let us first examine the contentious sentence in question. It reads: “So called ‘100 year events’ are now occurring sometimes only a few years apart.” That would be an accurate statement if the article was considering all climate-related events – including tornadoes, droughts, heat waves, and forest fires – but that is clearly not the case here. First of all, the article is about flooding, as can be seen from the many photographs illustrating it; furthermore, the sentence immediately preceding the contentious sentence reads: “In recent years, the news has been full of stories of bigger and more violent storms, and massive rainfall and flooding.” Thus, when the article goes on to mention “so-called ‘100 year events,’” it is clear that the events being referred to are episodes of extreme rainfall. One only had to examine the official Environment Canada data for Ontario as well as for the entire country to acknowledge that the claim made in the article was inaccurate. Such acknowledgement would at the same time have addressed the complainant’s criticism regarding the lack of data to corroborate Dr. Feltmate’s claim about the increased frequency of extreme rainfall events in Canada. To make that correction, and for it to be meaningful, the writer would no doubt have had to change more than just the sentence in question – which, I admit, would have contradicted, in part, the theory described in the article and the accompanying interview with Dr. Feltmate. Thus the first two sentences in the article, after being amended transparently, per best practices, would have been replaced by something along these lines: “Although in recent years the news has been full of stories of bigger and more violent storms, and massive rainfall and flooding, there is nothing to prove that this type of precipitation event has been on the rise in Canada. Data compiled by Environment Canada since the 1950s show that there has been no significant change in their frequency.” An insert should then have been added, explaining that the previous version of the article, as well as part of the interview with Dr. Feltmate, contained inaccuracies in that respect, and that this prompted RCI to publish the clarification."
Also, the CBC journalist had elected to ignore Environment Canada data that contradicted it's original reporting, and instead attempted to discount questions on data. In another Ombudsman excerpt:
"He is, incidentally, one of the authors of the Environment Canada study cited above. Dr. Zhang wrote to journalist Marc Montgomery, while the latter was preparing his draft response to the complaint, that: “For Canada as a whole, observational evidence of changes in extreme precipitation is lacking.” I must take RCI to task for not having drawn the obvious conclusion regarding the truthfulness of the sentence that Mr. Muir complained about."