Lesson learned: Paving paradise causes flooding

It used to be when a city like Houghton gave a break to a gigantic corporation like Meijer to reduce a development’s required parking by nearly half, it was a case of corporate welfare.

Not any more, because things in this era of climate change are not what they seem. The recent action by the Houghton Planning Commission to require less parking for the proposed Meijer store is all about one of the many hard lessons learned from the June 17 flash flood, which not only devastated roads and property across the Copper Country, but it also claimed one life.

The storm was unprecedented in this area’s recorded history, and yet it is exactly the type of extreme weather event that come as the result of climate change, as scientists have predicted for years.

Global warming is not the sole cause of any individual weather event, but it is becoming more and more of an influence in all weather events and making them more extreme.

Despite the claims of skeptics, all the data that makes this case — and the case that it is mostly caused by human activity — is available.

When the better part of 7 inches of rain falls in three hours, hard surfaces like pavement create a flash flood. It is not a complicated equation.

In addition to other reasons, members of the commission showed they had learned that lesson from the flood in reducing the area of the store’s pavement, and when it comes to coping with the effects of extreme weather, every little bit helps.

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