Hamilton, Burlington and Toronto have all been hit by major floods.
Toledo, Ohio, residents went without municipal water for days earlier this year, when their water turned toxic after a massive algae bloom in Lake Erie.
Droughts are devastating farmers in the southern United States.
“Climate change is happening now,” said Dustin Garrick, a professor at McMaster University, as the school was preparing to welcome some of the world’s top water experts for a week-long conference in Hamilton.
Hundreds of experts are tackling water-related issues, such as climate change, global public health and social and economic development, as part of McMaster’s first Water Week, which started Monday and wraps up Friday.
Garrick, who is the university’s Philomathia Foundation professor in water policy and research, said the lectures and workshops are open to the public.
Part of the goal of Water Week is to raise public awareness.
“We are dealing with unprecedented climate change,” he said. “It’s happening so fast, the past is no longer a guide to what may happen in the future.”
Garrick joined McMaster in January to launch the Water Network, after working at the University of Oxford in Britain on water policy and climate change adaptation in Australia and North America. Part of his goal at McMaster and across Ontario is to create a network of water researchers who may be doing related work, but have never exchanged ideas before.
The conference is held every September. Stockholm, Amsterdam and Singapore are among the previous host cities.
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