Meteorologists on television and radio newscasts appear to have an aversion to uttering the words "climate change" in connection with extreme weather events.
I can't recall hearing this mentioned by any of the best-known weather forecasters in the business, such as Claire Martin, Mark Madryga (who shills for Port Metro Vancouver on the side), and Michael Kuss.
As a result, the public is given no indication that a flash flood in Toronto—in which the monthly average rainfall was dumped on the city in two hours—might be linked to carbon-dioxide emissions.
Weathercasters also avoided mentioning global warming when sections of Calgary and High River were underwater as a result of unprecedented rainfalls.
But a 2008 book by B.C. writer Chris Wood makes it clear that climate change can be linked to intense flooding.
In Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis in North America, Wood cited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research that describes a continental redistribution of rainfall.
In the book, UVic climate scientist and now Green party MLA Andrew Weaver said: "Draw a line at the 49th parallel. There's more water above the line, less water below."
Wood reported that Canada is expected to get as much as 40 percent more rainfall by the middle of this century.
The United States, on the other hand, will lose a third of its rainfall in some of its most prosperous areas, notably the U.S. southwest.
"Storm tracks will shift toward the north over North America, Europe and Asia, and south in the southern hemisphere," Wood wrote. "With them, precipitation will also move, roughly, toward the poles. Bigger, windier storms will deliver heavier rain."
It's increasingly clear that climate change–induced sudden and intense rainfall will cost Canadian municipalities and provincial governments a great amount of money. We saw it when Calgary was shut down for several days, and we're witnessing it again in Toronto this week.
If meteorologists on TV and radio stations start talking about the effects of climate change, it will better prepare the public for this inevitability.
A 2012 survey of American Meteorological Society Members indicated that 89 percent believe that global warming is occurring, whereas seven percent didn't know, and only four percent were climate-change deniers.
Of those who believe in the reality of global warming, 59 percent attributed it mostly to human activity. Another 34 percent either thought human activity was involved or didn't feel scientists knew enough to determine the cause. And 76 percent felt that global warming would be either very harmful or somewhat harmful if it weren't addressed over the next 100 years.
As a consumer of television news, I would like to know where the meterologists on the TV and radio stations stand on this issue. It might inform my choice as to which broadcast to rely on in the future when there's more flash flooding along the lines of what we've seen in Calgary and Toronto.