whose fault are the floods?

One of the first things I learned as a tabloid reporter, was that people always want to assign blame.  If ever there is a big problem, a killing, a disaster – the cry goes up: “who’s to blame?”

So its kind of inevitable that in the almost aftermath of the flooding that has dominated the summer people are already demanding to know whose fault this is.  The government who ‘knew’ the danger was coming?  The polluters who have ’caused climate change’? Who?

An article this morning says that scientists have found a human fingerprint on the flooding : ”

Chris Huntingford a climate modeller at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, said: “It has now been confirmed that the burning of fossil fuels has altered rainfall patterns at the global scale. Next we need to understand how these observed large-scale adjustments translate to local changes in extreme rainfall events.

“These highly regionalised estimates of rainfall will be essential in aiding governments to prepare for what might, in some circumstances, represent dangerous climate change.”…”

I kind of wish the scientists would make their minds up.  They used to tell us that climate change was going to leave us with wet winters and hot dry summers.  My wife – a prescient person if ever there was one, has long declared she thinks the weather will become wetter in the winter, and wetter in the summer.  She had no evidence for this claim. Until now 😉

But the reality is that yes, there is more water in the atmosphere, but that hasnt made it rain in buckets.  That is down to freak weather… these things happen every now and then.  There is nobody to blame for the freak weather (unless a supervillain somewhere is controlling the weather) freak weather happens.

So what about the floods, are they inevitable?  Well here’s the thing.  Joni Mitchell sang: “they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot”, she could have sang: “they paved/concreted/decked/tarmacked paradise, and failed to maintain ancient ditches and dykes, which combined means that while there are lots of parking lots, there isnt anywhere for the rain to go.”

She could also have added that conventional farming techniques have damaged the soil structure, making it less able to hold water, which simultaneously means that we use more water than we should, and that when it rains the water isnt retained in the ground, and it puddles up instead.

The reality is that the kind of development we consider necessary to keep us at the dorefront of economic growth is not compatible with working hand in hand with nature.  Its time more of us got hold of living in harmony with the earth, and quit paving paradise, and needing more parking lots…

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One thought on “whose fault are the floods?

  1. I agree that whether you can specifically link recent floods to climate change is debatable. Certainly it is bad practice for scientists to do so solely with the benefit of hindsight. However I have just had a book published, Climate Change: Biological & Human Aspects, and with the recent floods I wondered what I said and found that this sort of thing (summer flooding in Europe) is what one would expect in a warming world. I therefore have posted the appropriate text on the web free here.

    Jonathan

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