Heat Island – Highlights: an investigative story by William Marsden

HEAT  ISLAND – an investigative Story by WILLIAM MARSDEN

The Gazette 29 Jan 2011


l’Article disponible uniquement en anglais

Highlights that pertain to saving  GREEN SPACES on the Island of  Montreal

  • What worried officials most were urban heat islands where concrete sidewalks, asphalt roofs, roads and parking lots absorb heat and combine to increase temperatures by as much as 16 degrees Celsius over the regional average
  • Montreal and surrounding communities are preparing to spend billions of dollars to reduce emissions and to adapt to the dangers posed by climate change.
  • Cities inevitably are the front-line troops when dealing with extreme weather. “The climate change challenge for cities is dire,” Andrew Steer, the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change, said.
  • Here in Montreal the challenge is no different.   “We see the effects in our communities, on the ground and across the board,” Montreal city councillor Alan DeSousa said. “We don’t have the luxury to wait. We have to act now to meet the problems we are seeing now and those that will come in the future. That’s why cities are the major drivers. That’s why we are not waiting.”
  • Of course, cities have been talking about sustainable development and climate change for years. For the most part it has been a story of “nice plans no action,” DeSousa said.

That passivity, he claimed, is in the past. Time is running out.

  • As Montreal’s executive committee member with responsibility for sustainable development, finance and administration, DeSousa sees all sides of the issue: what needs to be done to reduce emissions; what needs to be done to adapt to the impacts of climate change; how much it will cost; and where the money will come from.
  • Climate change actions often provide benefits well beyond climate change concerns. They result in economic, social and environmental improvements.

An energy efficient city that is well adapted to climate change will be more

livable and therefore more attractive to business

“We expect to see a growing competition among clean cities.”[according to Andrew Steer,

the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change]

  • To combat the heat island effect, Montreal has been slowly doubling its green spaces from three per cent of the Island to six per cent, which is the average for most cities in Canada. DeSousa said the city is also planting more trees.  St. Laurent, Verdun and several other areas are planting trees to expand their canopy to up to 40 per cent. In the last few years, St. Laurent, where DeSousa is borough mayor, alone has planted 13,046 full grown and seedling/ sapling trees with a net gain of about 11,000 trees. Not only will this help cool the municipality and retain water, it will also consume more carbon dioxide. A heavy tree canopy can reduce temperatures several degrees.

  • The health of Canadians and Canada’s natural environment, communities, and economy are vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate,” Canada’s Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, reported last fall. “     Montreal and Quebec City experience more intense snow storms, wind storms, heat waves and torrential rain than ever before;

Alan  DeSousa ‘s comments:

  • Inaction by the federal government has meant many voters remain unconvinced of the dangers of climate change,
  • “If we are going to make a dent and if we are going to be able to supply a coherent series of reasons to the population, we need the federal government on side,”
  • “You can imagine how much simpler our lives would be if you have a coherent, cohesive message being sent by all levels of government to the population. Not only would people better understand the impact of climate change on their daily lives but there would also be a series of integrated measures across the board that are coherent. That definitely handicaps our efforts, particularly at jurisdictions at senior levels of government where we don’t have any particular role, for example in industrial emissions.”

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