Monday, February 17, 2020

Flooding is not a government priority.

Six years ago, in February 2014, I wrote a couple of pieces relating to the floods then affecting particularly the Somerset Levels. At the time the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, standing in a puddle in his wellies, spoke of money not being a barrier and promising sufficient government spending to deal with the issue.

Today government ministers and Environment Officials are again standing in soggy spots wearing wellies assuring the public they are on the case, spending more than ever and planning to spend even more to keep us all dry in our homes.

Nearly £5bn is earmarked to be spent on flood defences in England over the next six years. Compare and contrast with spending on HS2. I'm not saying it is necessarily an either/or question, but when numbers involving billions are concerned it's useful to have some comparisons to get a handle on the magnitudes. (NHS spending is about £130 billion per year.)

The data are here.

Are government priorities correct? How should government compare the misery and economic harm of ordinary folk flooded out of the homes with cutting journey times from London to Birmingham and beyond?

Dealing with uncertainty is a critical feature of our times, but little attention is given to its serious consideration. The Royal Society is addressing this with its conference 'Confronting Radical Uncertainty' in April 2020.

What we can reasonably assume to be certain is that global heating will continue through this century, sailing through the 1.5° and 2°C targets. For the British Isles the consequence will be to increase the frequency of extreme weather events and to increase their severity.

With the current 1°C of warming, we ain't seen nothing yet.


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