Deer on The Ark

From The London Free Press, Sat, February 14, 2009

Unseasonal floods seen as bad omen

Climate change a genuine worry

By PATRICK MALONEY

Gordon McBean, a 2007 Nobel Prize-sharing climate change expert at the University of Western Ontario, said yesterday extreme weather woes — and all the problems that come with them — could soon become the norm.

“The message (from this week’s flooding) is it’s a harbinger of the future,” McBean said, following an address on the topic to the Canadian Club of London.

“We should be expecting more of these events and we would be irresponsible to make investments in planning, zoning and infrastructure that don’t include that.”

McBean’s warning came after days of unusually warm winter weather triggered massive, spring-like flooding across the area — damaging property, closing roads and resulting in at least one dramatic rescue.

That may drive home the argument London Coun. David Winninger recently made against shifting money — even temporarily — from an already-approved city study on the effects of climate change on London infrastructure.

Winninger was furious that $640,000 earmarked for a portion of the $1.3-million study may instead be spent on sewer work in 2009, with a staff pledge to return the funding to the study in 2011.

The fear is that by that time a new city council, perhaps different than the one that approved the much-maligned probe, will forego the project.

When the study was approved last year, Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell wondered if he “should start building an ark.” Controller Bud Polhill said “it’s called global warming, not municipal warming.”

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