With the River Seine at its highest level in over 30 years, French President Francois Hollande has declared a national state of emergency due to flooding caused by heavy rain.
The flooding has killed at least two people and led to thousands of evacuations. Major transportation systems and cultural centers are shut down throughout Paris.
The unusually heavy rain is linked to climate change, said Hollande.
Canada Green Party member Dimitri Lascaris said many governments have not taken the necessary steps towards adaptation despite a plethora of academic and government-funded research on how climate change will affect precipitation patterns and increase flooding.
“In fact, the Canadian government recently issued a report that said the infrastructure in the country is not being modified and modernized in a manner that will help us to adapt to climate change in the future,” said Lascaris.
“Just as governments have been slow to act in terms of bringing down greenhouse gas emissions to keep the temperature increase within a manageable level, they’ve also been slow to act in terms of preparing society for the changes that are coming and the changes that can no longer be avoided.”
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network, and this is the Real Weather Report on the Real News Network. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency due to flooding in France leading to two deaths, thousands of evacuations, shutting down of the Louvre and/or same museums and a subway line. The River Seine rose to its highest levels in over 30 years. The unusually heavy rains were linked to climate change, said Hollande. Here to talk about all of this is Dimitri Lascaris. Not only is he our Greek correspondent, he’s also our weatherman. He’s a member of the Green Party of Canada and he’s joining us to discuss all of this. As you know, Dimitri is a class action securities lawyer professionally and called to practice in the state of New York and the province of Ontario. Good to have you back, Dimitri. DIMITRI LASCARIS: Thank you very much, Sharmini. PERIES: Dimitri, we’re experiencing extreme weather conditions throughout the world. There are droughts going on in five continents, and we see in places like Texas these kinds of extreme weather conditions lead to floods that killed several people, including a rescue operation military personnel vessel, and a number of them were killed and some are missing. Now, is this a pattern of what is to come? Are scientists telling us these kinds of extreme weather conditions are what we’re going to experience in the future, like what’s happening in Paris? LASCARIS: Yes, it certainly does. In 2003 for example, there’s a wealth of scientific literature on this subject, but in 2003 a study was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature that concluded that an increase in the amount of precipitation that proceeds the 95th percentile is very likely in many parts of Europe, despite a possible reduction in average summer precipitation over a substantial part of the continent, particularly over the south of the continent. The study’s author stated: “Our results indicate that episodes of severe flood may become more frequent despite a general trend towards drier summer conditions.” That was in 2003. A decade later in 2013 the European Environmental Agency warned that increased flooding is likely to be one of the most serious effects from climate change in Europe over coming decades, and the agency noted that climate change would likely result in drier summers in Europe’s south, but that precipitation had increased in the north, as had the incidence and the severity of floods. So this is very much in line with what has been expected, what has been predicted, and the problem is being exasperated. The problem of climate change and its tendency to increase the incidence and severity of extreme weather events such as storms is that civilization [are] making choices that are increasing the damage caused by these extreme weather events. In particular, in urban areas, major cities like Paris and Barcelona, very large portions of the soil have been covered over with concrete and cement. The soil typically acts as a sponge. It will soak up the water in the event of a torrential downfall, which it then seeps into the river system and is dissipated in a gradual manner. But when the surface is sealed somewhere in the range of 2/3 to 3/4 of the city, as it has been in places like Paris, the sponge is gone. Then the water accumulates, then it has to enter the river system, typically through sewage systems, and it enters much more rapidly than it otherwise would in natural conditions. Sometimes the sewer system doesn’t have the capacity to absorb the water. And that’s what you see and what we’re seeing in major European cities in catastrophic consequences. And the other issue, lifestyle issue or life choice issue, that is exasperating the problem is that you’re seeing increasing concentrations of buildings in areas that are particularly vulnerable to flooding. So all of these are coming together, if you excuse the pun and the overused cliché, to form a perfect storm, and we’re going to see more and more events like this nature in Europe and elsewhere in places like Texas in the future. PERIES: And how prepared are we to deal with these extreme weather conditions and the impact that it’s having in places like Paris and other major cities? LASCARIS: Well, just as governments have been slow to act in terms of bringing down greenhouse gas emissions to keep the temperature increase within a manageable level, they’ve also been slow to act in terms of preparing society for the changes that are coming and the changes that can no longer be avoided. In fact, the Canadian government, the department of the Canadian government, recently issued a report that said the infrastructure in this country is not being modified and modernized in a manner that will help us to adapt to climate change in the future. So these failures, I think we’re going to be paying very dearly for them in the long run, and ultimately we’ll pay more than we otherwise would have if we had dealt with them in the short term in a decisive manner. PERIES: All right. Dimitri, I thank you so much for joining us, and we’re going to continue to do these kinds of weather reports as things intensify in different parts of the world. As you can see, places like Venezuela is in a four-year drought having intense impact on the way in which people live because it effects electricity and a number of other things in terms of livelihood, food, and so on. So we are going to be doing these kinds of environmental reports for the Real News audience. And if you like this kind of report, as you can see, we’re in a fundraising campaign at this time. We want to be able to do more like this and more in the field so you can actually see and experience what’s happening to the Earth. If you like this, make sure you click that donate button. And Dimitri, thank you so much for joining us. LASCARIS: Thanks so much, Sharmini. PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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