I give thanks that we missed the kind of flooding here in the village of Caversham that happened in Gloucestershire and in Oxford. We are close to the river Thames, but it has not risen sufficiently to flood these homes since 1947. According the the Environment Agency (formerly the National Rivers Authority), the latest inundation is the worst to hit Britain in modern history. Do we blame it all on global warming? Well I'm not sure, since as I have noted floods have happened for many years periodically. In 1947 the snow/ice-melt from an especially hard winter plus the much smaller locks that existed to contend with the outpour resulted in the spillage of the river into this lovely corner of England.
Thousands of people were evacuated from the vicinities of the rivers Severn and Thames and there is much to learn about flood-defenses. So, either way, if the global-warming protagonists are close with their calculations which suggest that we can expect far more of this kind of liquidity as the Earth warms-up, or it is down to processes that have no connection with humans, it might be salient to install e.g. sealed aluminium "shield" defenses that can be raised against any future insults of water.
Many were not insured against flood either, and so are left with massive financial costs to put right the devastation. Potentially there are health-risks too, as the sewers back-up and overflow, leaving a bacterial sludge that can infect especially the young and the old, as epidemics often do. It seems that most have been spared such calamities but it would appear prudent to adopt strategies of prevention as a matter of course, particularly for properties that have been built close to rivers.
Building on flood-plains is an easy option for a variety of reasons, but it should be avoided as far as is reasonable, and such properties should mandatorily be defended with what amount to fairly basic strategies, as I have alluded to. We live in a highly uncertain world in which using less and defending against quite anticipatable traumas would appear sensible.
I am leaving tomorrow for the Swiss Alps, where I shall be interested in the level of glacial ice cover that there is now. Last year I was amazed at its depletion say from 25 years ago when I first visited Switzerland as a research student. We exist precipitously on the spinning mass of the Earth and yet mostly burrow through the matters of complexity that confront us. I believe in humankind, that by curbing our excesses of energy use we can survive.
"The Independent", Tuesday, July 24, 2007; lead story, "A 21st century catastrophe."