A scene of carnage from the recent floods which have swept across the UK. [Reuters]
A look at the Environment Agency website shows that, at the time of writing, there are dozens of flood warnings for the UK where flooding is expected and hundreds of flood alerts advising that flooding is possible. The obvious question to ask is: why are there so many floods in our country now?
At the moment there is snow thawing and running off into the rivers and further rain is forecast for many parts of the country over the next week, but we have always had snow and rain at this time of year. I can only remember the occasional winter flood happening after a slow build up of rain over months. So what has changed that we now get two or three major floods in Britain each year including in the summer: a time outside of when we can realistically expect a flood?
The Environment Agency website states 'as future assessments are completed it is expected that we will see a trend in the level of flood risk. These assessments are expected to show that flood risk is increasing'.
A study at Newcastle University concluded storms have become twice as heavy since the Sixties and the most torrential occur four times more often. However, it seems that the reason's behind why we are suffering so many floods depends on who you ask.
Some point to reduced spending on flood defences; others say it is down to housing being built on flood plains and the amount of grass areas which have been paved over enabling more rain to run off the concreted areas into storm drains and the already swollen rivers.
What we don't seem to be asking is why we are getting more storms and torrential rain in the first place. For that we will have to look towards our atmosphere. Anyone with a basic handle on science knows that warm air holds more moisture and the more moisture it holds, the more precipitation it has ready to dump on us.
Worryingly, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre report, 'Long-term trends in global CO2 emissions', shows that the amount of CO2 emissions we pump into the atmosphere is still going up, warming the atmosphere even further.
As more and more extreme weather events happen around the world, it seems we have gone past the tipping point and torrential rain and floods are going to become the norm for us here in the UK. All we can do now is strengthen the river banks with flood defences and watch on helplessly as Mother Nature wreaks her revenge for what we have done to her planet.
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