Revenge of the Trees

by Franke James

Storm damage in Toronto linked to climate change

“Everything is not normal… The storms are for sure to do with global warming,” said Jack Radecki, executive director of the Ontario Urban Forest Council in a June 21/07 Toronto Star article.

For me, the signs of climate change are all around us (indeed, the squashed van in the photo is a neighbour’s), and yet many people shrug their shoulders and say, “We’ve always had storms. Nothing’s changed.”

So I was glad to read yesterday’s article and see that Mr. Radecki was making the connection, and so were City of Toronto officials. The stats are that in the first 6 months of 2007, there have been 6,000 storm calls. That’s up from 4,000 in all of 2006. Before that, the annual average was 2,500 calls.

Recently there has been speculation by some ‘Yale pundits’ that Canada might actually benefit from Global Warming… I have a hard time following that cynical logic for many reasons, including the fact that the increase in violent storms is destroying the lush tree canopy that Toronto has spent decades creating (not to mention damaging a few cars along the way…).

The article also connected the dots between urban development, and ailing trees, pointing out that the ‘Lack of rain is particularly tough on trees in urban settings because the moisture content in the soil is already restricted by asphalt and concrete.’ Richard Ubbens, Toronto’s chief forester commented, “We’ve got to get away from driveway widening and wider roads…and find ways to get the water back into the ground.”

I couldn’t agree more. Next week watch for an update on our battle to build an eco-friendly driveway.

neighbours van hit by tree june 2007

Revenge of the Trees 2007 Franke James;
Illustration and writing by Franke James, MFA

1 Response: One Comment

  • Rachelle says:

    Asphalt and concrete are restricting water… that is so true, just down the street from where I live there was an entire tree that was uprooted from the storm. It literally pulled the square of dirt surrounded by driveway and sidewalk up, as if the tree was desperately trying to grasp something to keep it grounded during the storm.

    And also while observing the large number of trees that have crumbled because of the storm, I can’t help but notice the majority of damage is in the residential areas, while the parks (which can support more soil and water) just have a couple of branches down.