Was climate change responsible for the floods?


Several factors were responsible for this spring's historic flooding in the Montreal area — including record amounts of rainfall and an abundant snow melt.

But how much of an effect did climate change have — if it had one at all?

Jeannine-Marie St. Jacques, an assistant professor of geography, planning and environment at Concordia University, says it's not too early to start talking about climate change as a possible cause for this disaster.

"No, now is the time to start," St. Jacques says. "when the disaster is still fresh in everybody's mind."

She says even if emotions are still raw and many people are still concerned about saving their homes and belongings, and in some cases, even where their next meal will come from, people should begin pressing government's for change.

"To begin with — and I hesitate to being this up, because things are raw — we've been building and living in flood zones," she says. "We have to start thinking about how we're going to be stepping back from that."

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed that issue while getting an aerial view of the flood zone in Gatineau. 

"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."

St. Jacques is also critical of the province's response to the crisis. She says for more than a decade, the job of managing floods has been a municipal job, and that better coordination is needed to help those affected — particularly if climate change renders these kinds of events more regular than they once were.


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