"Weekend News Update: Rise in Canadian flood claims tied to climate change; Lisa Jackson vows to maintain ‘aggressive environmental agenda’"
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Canadian insurance companies are facing unprecedented growth in claims and payouts for water-related home damage, and industry experts lay the blame squarely on climate change.
In 2009, insurance payouts nationwide totalled $5.3-billion, with more than half of claims being paid for extreme weather events.
Heavy rainfall causing flooded basements was the main culprit, costing the insurance industry $1.3-billion in 2009.
For many years, fire damage was the most expensive cost for companies, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
But 10 years ago, water damage claims started to increase, until 2005 when they surpassed fire costs.
Today, the bureau reports that water damages account for more than half of all insurance claims.
“Now that comes from, of course, the washing machine that break down, but it’s also the fact that the municipal infrastructure has not been designed to withstand what we are experiencing, and the fact that the climate has changed,” says Robert Tremblay, research director at the bureau.
While world leaders and UN bureaucrats discuss strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Canadians are already feeling the effects of climate change, including flooded basements after heavy rain.
That means cities and citizens need to adapt, says the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
“For most of the country, the infrastructure is not built for the climate that we are now starting to see,” argued Brock Carlton, the federation’s CEO….
New reality means heavy rain, extreme weather
As for the science of climate change, the increase in the severity of extreme rain events is undeniable, environment experts say.
Climate modelling research has found that on a global scale there is a steady upward trend in heavy precipitation, according to Dr. Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, and former director of Environment Canada’s climate research branch.
“That means, you know, additional flooding [and] more frequent events when people will have to mop out their basements,” says Zwiers.
Related Post: Study finds global warming is driving increased frequency of extreme wet or dry summer weather in southeast, so droughts and deluges are likely to get worse.
BOSTON — The Obama administration is committed to an “aggressive environmental agenda” that goes beyond what was achieved during the past four decades, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said today during a speech at Harvard University.
Jackson spoke during a conference that featured appearances by several leading lights of the environmental movement, including EPA’s first administrator, Bill Ruckelshaus, and former Vice President Al Gore, who spoke to agency officials during an invitation-only luncheon.
The event capped a week of events celebrating EPA’s 40th birthday and also previewed the case the agency will make when the balance of power on Capitol Hill shifts toward the Republicans next year.
High-ranking Republicans have vowed to keep Jackson and other top officials tethered to the witness stand, pushing Congress to block regulations that they feel would harm the economy.
But while voters may have been concerned about federal bureaucracy when they cast their ballots last month, polls still show that they want the government to protect public health and the environment, Jackson said. In the past, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to put those programs in place, she said.
The agency will move forward with rules such as the “toughest smog standards in history,” Jackson said, as well as the agency’s first-ever limits on mercury from cement kilns.
“Some think it’s time to roll back the clock on those advances, but we know that is not what the American people want,” she said. “This is the time to use this agency, built and shaped through bipartisan and nonpartisan actions, to serve this country. We can do that. As easy as it is to tear down, or to roll back, it’s actually only what we build, and what we advance, that lasts beyond elections and politics.”