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Friday, 14 February 2014

Sea Of (Political) Troubles

Water water everywhere, and not a drop into the drain  .... like the ancient mariner, the British Government (a term we may only be able to use this year), has found itself drowned by the tidal forces of nature, as the flooding in some parts of the south of England cause it a sea of publicity sorrows.

Now if you read the BBC and Newspapers, all of which a London Centric, then the flooding of houses near the Somerset levels, or worse the breaching of the River Thames north of London, is a disaster of biblical proportions and all the Department of Environment, or cost cutting governments fault .... its not, and its not.

Fact: We are having the worse winter rains since no one knows when (when incidentally, last October it was predicted that we faced the coldest winter ever!!), and of course its what used to be described as "an act of God", but which probably is better described as "an act of Man", with some scientists saying that as four of the five wettest winters on record, have occurred since the year 2000, we are in fact now inside "Global Warming".

This has been combined with many many sea storms lashing the coasts, and tides backing the rivers up. So ground water levels are at record highs (many boreholes are under record pressure levels), so that rain water has nowhere to drain to, and is bursting some river banks. It's therefore no wonder that there has been some flooding.

I say 'some flooding', because out of an overpopulated nation of 68 million, with maybe 35 - 40 million dwelling places, until this week, whether its 100 or 1,000 homes that had actually been flooded in recent weeks (with admittedly more under threat as the wet weather continues), its still a tiny proportion of the UK housing stock.

This media sense of the apocalypse arriving was added to this week when the high winds disrupted the rail traffic for a couple of days .....in response the government has kicked off the biggest emergency services response since WWII.

Dawlish Railway - Damaged Again By Storms

But despite the hardship all this brings locally (and I am not pretending that its not horrible for those affected - I spent 2.5 hours getting home on Wednesday night), it's still affected only a tiny proportion of the UK's population, with the rest suffering just some travel inconvenience and some fences broken. The reality is that if the government hadn't already spent hundreds of millions on flood defences in the UK since 2007, then at least 1.3 million other properties would have been flooded this winter ... now that would have been apocalyptic.

Dawlish Railway - Damaged In the Past By Storms!

By many countries standards (and I am thinking  of Italy for example, where earthquake victims are still waiting for action more than a decade after the events of 1997), this would be hailed as a fantastic result of forward planning and public defence .... so in fact, by many standards this actually a success story .... but you wouldn't know it. We have had much the same weather, but with much worse results in the past

As Harold Macmillan once said, what brings a Government down is 'events dear boy, events' and we have had a lot of those recently.

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