|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".