Guest Blog by Raegan Mallinson: High Water Warnings

As the cleanup of the Southern Alberta flooding continues, memories of the event for Alberta and the rest of the world are captured in a multitude of jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching videos and pictures across the Internet. Last month’s events were a reminder of the fragility and impermanence of humankind’s material creations in the wrath of Mother Nature and the power of water. Having watched a YouTube video of a house float and smash into the West Bragg Creek Bridge, a bridge I once drove over every other day in my hometown, a reminder and sense of urgency to address the impacts of climate change are brought to the forefront of the environmental, social and economic issues we face.
The events of Southern Alberta and other extreme weather-related events, including the Toronto flooding, the Arizona fires and countless others around the world gave scientists with an outlet to share their concerns and knowledge. Scientists were able to provide insight to the general public on global warming and climate change issues through a broad range of media. Scientific evidence that the atmosphere’s ability to hold water increases by 7 percent for every 1-degree increase in temperature was a point stressed by various scientists. Although the events cannot be wholly attributed to climate change, anthropogenic changes to the hydrological system cannot be denied. Leading experts such as David Suzuki and Living Lakes Canada advisor Bob Sanford commented on the flooding and its relation to our past, present and future understanding of the hydrological cycle, and the need to adapt our behavior to the changing, more extreme and unpredictable climate patterns. They stressed that these adaptations must include changing our behavior towards greenhouse gas emissions and our consumption of fossil fuels, along with greater strategic planning of community locations (stop building in floodplains) and infrastructure to adjust to these shifting climates.
Reviewing the records of recent flooding events, it is clear that these once termed “100-year flood events” have become closer to 10-year flood events. At the current rate of change we can expect further increases in severe events, and of increasing magnitude. Suzuki and Sanford both stress the issue of a lack of urgency from media, government and industry. As these are some of the loudest voices of society, it is a disturbing thought.
With the help of current climate change movements, high profile blogs and first nations climate change issues are being voiced. These movements are helping to “clear the air” and allow room for discussion and action. Through educating ourselves with the help of these various movements and scientific studies, we can take responsibility into our own hands and take action to ensure the resilience and functioning of the planet’s ecosystems.

Photo: The Elbow River at Bragg Creek

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