Britain needs stronger defences against extreme weather

Editorial: For 30 years the UK has done astonishingly little to prevent climate change or ‘live with it’. The recent floods are surely something even the most complacent government cannot choose to ignore

Monday 26 July 2021 21:30
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<p>Cars struggle along flooded roads in Nine Elms, southwest London, over the weekend</p>

Cars struggle along flooded roads in Nine Elms, southwest London, over the weekend

The evacuation of critically ill patients from flooding in hospitals in the south of England brings to mind how global catastrophes can quickly overtake the ability of mankind to control them. In this case, we find the Covid and climate change crises conspiring to make caring for the sick more difficult, if not impossible. Yet another day of freakishly heavy rain left much of Britain inundated, and not for the first time.

As with the recent deadly floods in western Europe and China, or the burning of Australia and Siberia, the pattern of unprecedented extreme weather events continues, with varying but devastating consequences, from the creeping desertification of sub-Saharan Africa to the gradual submerging of Bangladesh.

The typhoons, floods and unusually intense hurricanes seen across the planet derives from a simple meteorological fact – hotter air carries more moisture. That much we know, and it would help explain why places such as Worcester and Salisbury have for some years been underwater so often. Even though there is a chance that mankind can limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C, it is also true that things could turn out worse without the global will to succeed.

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