Extreme weather cause by climate change a public health issue: N.B. researcher
A New Brunswick researcher has authored a report looking at how climate change has had an effect on people's health -- and how it could get worse in the future.
Digging into past storms, she'll be making recommendations to government this week in a report released by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
It's been almost five years, to the day, that post-tropical storm Arthur hit the Maritimes. It brought high winds and rain, and left behind so much destruction, thousands were powerless for days.
NB Power thought it was one of the worst storms on their infrastructure they had ever seen, until two and half years later.
An ice storm ripped apart power poles and left over 133,000 people in the dark, some of them for well over a week in January temperatures.
“Extreme events are going to become more common, and more intense,” said Louise Comeau, who is a UNB researcher and director of the Environment and Sustainable Development Research Centre.
Since the ice storm, New Brunswick has seen two historic floods, back to back.
Comeau is studying the impact of these major weather events and what they could look like in the future.
“Those floods for example we experienced this spring are potentially going to have 20 to 30 per cent more water, as part of that event in the future,” Comeau said. “Winds are fiercer, ice storms are more common because we're getting more rain-like, ice-like precipitation in winter.”
She says climate change has been called an economic, political or environmental issue, but more and more, it's also become a public health issue.
She's launching a report on this subject Tuesday.
“Say the floods of 2018 and 19, we know from the ice storm, we know from post-tropical storm Arthur, that there are health effects that we might not have expected,” Comeau said.
Restaurant owner Thane Mallory was hit hard by both floods.
“The word flood gives a little bit of anxiety,” Mallory said.
Some flood victims are still feeling the impact -- months after the waters have receded.
“I'm motivated by not wanting to see people suffer,” Comeau said.
Her report will be presented to government officials, who have promised to develop a new flood-mitigation strategy in the coming months.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.