Canadian Consulting Engineer

UN report suggests infrastructure needs to be designed for global warming

April 6, 2007
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Infrastructure needs to be designed with the coming effects of global warning in mind, has suggested Gordon McBean,...

Infrastructure needs to be designed with the coming effects of global warning in mind, has suggested Gordon McBean, president of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
McBean was referring to the forthcoming publication on April 6, of a second report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He has seen the latest UN report, which takes global warming as a reality and calls for adaptation strategies to cope with the effects.
McBean told CBC News on March 29 that the UN report would outline a number of risks to Canada, including increased flooding from storm surges in coastal areas, with Charlottetown in PEI and Richmond, B.C. cited as vulnerable centres.
McBean suggested such low-lying cities near the ocean, where water levels are expected to rise with global warming, need to build flood protection infrastructure with the predicted high sea levels in mind, not current levels. In an interview with CTV News he talked about the need to make critical transportation facilities less vulnerable by moving routes to higher ground inland. In particular he mentioned the railway line from Halifax that runs about a foot above sea level along the Bay of Fundy.
In other areas of the country, the problems of global warming will be a lack, not an overabundance, of water. McBean says the UN report predicts water shortages in the Prairies as a result of rising temperatures and increasing evaporation rates. The Great Lakes will also suffer from increased evaporation, producing lowered lake levels that have implications for marine transportation, sewage and water intake systems.
McBean argues that we need to adopt measures to cope with the coming changes now. We need to see changes in architecture, and building designs that take advantage of shade and natural cooling and landscaping to create more green space. In an interview with CTV news he said we need “to prevent an over reliance on air conditioning and other energy-intensive solutions.”
In addition to his role with the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Gordon McBean is a professor at the University of Western Ontario and Chair for Policy in the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction.


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