And, of course, there were endless speculations about whether these June floods were the result of man made global warming. Well, I don't know about that, but I do yhink that humans have worsened the impact of the heavy rains. And unlike climate change, there are things that we could do to lessen the impact:
- stop building on flood plains - the flood plains are already overbuilt and we're not helping the situation by building on them more. If you build your house upon the sand, don't be surprised if it gets washed away.
- stop concreting over everything - every bit of impermeableness placed on the land results in higher levels of run-off during periods of excess precipitation. Basically, the water doesn't have a chance to seep into the ground naturally - it all builds up and ends up in your living room. It takes a little bit more thought, but we can have more permeable paving or breaks in the paving. We could start by ensuring proper drainage in our own patio gardens. Water used to pool up in our garden until we removed the concrete between the pavers. It seems a small thing, but in terms of run-off every little bit really does help.
- maintain the drainage system. In much of urban England the natural drainage system of creeks and gullies has been replaced by concrete canals. Sure - this contains the water in times of normal precipitation - but chanelised flow means water moves faster - and faster water is more powerful water. The drainage system was built long ago and wasn't designed to cope with the high levels of run-off from our concrete jungle and sewage and waste water from our developments. The canals are often poorly maintained now, too. Clogged with willows and weeds and shopping carts, the flow isn't uniformly smooth. And that causes all kinds of problems on its own.
The government is still not taking these factors into account despite numerous warnings. People are more concerned about climate change where the UK government's actions will have minimal effect at best (even if you believe in the anthropogenic climate change model). But sensible action in flood prevention can save lives and property now.