Will flooding result in a trickle or deluge of essential change?

Posted on

I think recent floods in the UK and the very obvious signs of climate change across the world might just create a tipping point when it comes to policy to tackle  these issues. What is being witnessed is very obviously serious, tangible and for sufficient numbers threatening enough that others (not least, politicians) might appreciate and even share their concern.

I have for some years been a member if the Green New Deal group. We have argued that if there is to be 'growth' in the UK it should come from investing in the sustainability of our future. In that way we reconcile the green conundrum of more economic activity whilst constraining environmental damage to the planet. I believe that all political parties will find that they do, eventually, have little choice but adopt this approach.

There are though, I admit, problems to address. It is very clear that if some problems are to be tackled - such as the very real threat of much of the enormously important farmland of East Anglia and the fens being lost to the sea, including vast acreages currently very many miles inland -  then token gestures will not be enough. We may, for example, need to barrage the Wash.

Ideas such as this create cries of horror from the likes of the RSPB as a result of the loss of some habitats and yet I was at their Titchwell reserve in North Norfolk very recently and they candidly admit this will be lost to the sea within fifty years, and maybe sooner. If they're also candid, many bird reserves are now entirely artificial man made landscapes and it is time they realised that change embraces more such opportunities.

The point I am making is a relatively simple but fundamental one. Dealing with flooding requires us to re-embrace ideas of community, as I mentioned yesterday. It also requires us to realise that change is inevitable. And we now have all the warning signs we need that this change is required. What is necessary is that we take the actions soon, and do not delay. In that case, as I also explained yesterday, the pace of change is one we can manage. Leave it too late and that will not be the case; the second differential will be too big.

This though requires people to recognise that the case for change has been made. Are recent events enough to persuade not just ordinary people but government and those collective mindsets that organisations like the RSPB represent that this is the case and that embracing real change now is the route to survival?

For my children's sake, I hope so.