Climate Change + Flooding = Global wetting!
A record amount of rain fell in the North of England last week; almost a winter month’s worth in one day in some places, resulting in widespread flooding in the region. It has been described as a 1 in 100 or 150 year flood event, even a 1 in 1000 year flood event, but hang on… did this not occur in 2000 (the wettest year on record), 2002, and 2003, and 2004, 2005 and 2007? If this kind of rainfall and flooding was a 1 in 150 year flood event, shouldn’t these floods occur over 1,000 years? But instead they occur within one decade, all in our tiny corner of the earth. Climate change is not just making the world warmer, but parts of it also drier and wetter. Therefore, phrases such as global wetting and global drying can be added to global warming in the climate change dictionary.
But the UK is not the only country experiencing extreme rainfall, winds and flooding. Remember Hurricane Katrina? And the Elbe flood in the Czech Republic in 2002, and flooding in Dresden in the same year (when water levels peaked at a record 9.4m)? Also, the Danube flooding in 2006? Extreme weather conditions have increased rapidly since the 1970s, although the effects of these have been exacerbated by overpopulation and urbanisation.
Sadly, as is often the case, those with the least means of protecting themselves are often the worst hit. More than a fifth of Bangladesh could be underwater by 2050 if current sea-level rises continue.
The developed world got us into this mess and it is up to the developed world to get us out. Let’s hope that something radical happens in Copenhagen next month, where the world’s leaders will meet to thrash out an agreement on climate change. I wouldn’t hold your breath… although you might have to once the floods come again!