Gold in them thar pavements

This announcement‘s gotten no notice, as far as I can tell, but it’s important. The federal government is spending just short of $1 million to study how ready our public infrastructure is for the effects of climate change.

Canadian engineers have relied upon historical climatic data to design long-lasting, safe and reliable infrastructure. They must adjust their designs and operations to a changing climate, which could improve energy efficiency and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Improved design codes can incorporate more recent energy-efficiency standards.

The vulnerability assessment report will focus on four types of infrastructure: water supply systems; buildings; roads and associated structures; and storm and wastewater systems. It will also identify practices that can help make structures more resilient to climate change. The report is expected to be finished by March 2008.

The Tories are apparently serious about seizing control of this issue: while this is a study, it’s not a delaying tactic. It’s assuming as fact the thing Stephen Harper and other have previously insisted needed further examination before we did anything. They’ve been doing more and more of that lately, which is bidding up the importance of the imminent greenhouse-gas reduction plan. If this is fringe stuff, the real deal is (read: had better be) good.

Construction in Kicking Horse Pass, B.C.The move also steals a page directly from Stéphane Dion’s book, the page with the phrase “make megatonnes of money” on it. That’s what Dion talked about a lot immediately upon winning the Liberal leadership — all about the economic potential in getting out ahead of the climate-change problem, becoming the country whose experts other countries seek out to help them with their preparations, changes and adaptations.

There is big, big money in infrastructure. Megaprojects like the New Orleans levees aren’t the half of it — the contracts are in redesigning storm sewers to handle greater flows, rebuilding roads to handle extremes of heat and cold without crumbling (Canada already has a natural advantage), and so on. The millions mount up fast.


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