Why climate action matters: What climate change means for Toronto
- Wetter winters with increased freezing rain and freeze-thaw cycles that damage buildings and infrastructure
- Hotter, drier summers with more extreme heat, extreme storms, heavy precipitation bursts and heat-related deaths and illnesses.
- Increased damage to trees and natural areas from extended droughts.
- More insect pests due to ability to an increased ability to survive through milder winters (gypsy moth, pine beetle) leading to loss of forest cover / higher urban heat (less shade. transpiration)
- Greater risk of disease such as lyme disease due to increased presence of insect carriers and warmer weather.
- According to Munich Re, one of the world's largest reinsurance companies, climate change is causing extreme weather events that pose an increasing cost for governments, citizens and business. Aggregate losses attributed to more extreme weather-related natural disasters total US$1,600 billion since 1980, with insurance claims increasing by 11% per year. Munich Re says these rising costs can only be attributed to climate change and points out that other natural disaster claims have remained fairly static (despite recent earthquakes, etc.) while weather related claims continue to rise.
- Toronto has been averaging just under one extreme weather event every two years over the past two decades. A severe summer storm in 2005 caused $400-$500 million in property damage. That summer may have also seen a tornado touch down in Toronto and the traditional Ontario "tornado track" may be shifting toward Toronto. In 2007-08, record snowfalls led to the city overspending its snow clearance budget by $29 million, according the City of Toronto report, Ahead of the Storm.
- Cities will pay 80% of the $80 billion annual cost of adapting to climate change, according to the World Bank.
- Climate impacts will disproportionately affect cities which house the largest populations, infrastructures and economic activity. Modelling based on current carbon emissions trends, for example, indicated Chicago would have summers like the Deep South, 35 percent more precipitation in winter and spring, but 20 percent less in summer and fall, heat-related deaths reaching 1,200 a year, freeze/thaw events deteriorating buildings, bridges and roads with costs in the billions, termites infestations, and other adverse and costly impacts. The New York Times says the report on likely impacts for Chicago reads like an "urban disaster film minus Godzilla"
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