When England and wales experience the wettest summer on record, and the ground becomes sodden, the reservoirs full up and the streams and rivers run deep, any significant autumnal rainfall will create problems, and so it has been this year. November started (as far as rainfall is concerned) as a pretty average month but in the past two weeks many places have had very heavy rainfall and so there has been a catalogue of catastrophe.
Much of the catastrophe has occurred as a result of people building on land that has always been subject to flooding. Much of the catastrophe has occurred because insufficient funds have been spent of flood defence. Some catastrophe happened because in the course of building rivers were diverted into too small culverts – to save money. The saving now is balanced against the cost of dealing with the overflow from an insufficiently large culvert.
Without question much of the catastrophe is due to the effects of climate change: it has been predicted for more than ten years that as emissions increase so storms will become more violent and last longer and that rainfall patterns will change. Rainfall patterns do appear to be changing all over the world and this is a nuisance. If you build something on the basis that the climate will stay more or less the same as it has been for the past hundred years and then allow a margin for error and then as time goes by cut that margin for error to save money, well, something has got to give and it will be flood defences, or successful crops or Arctic ice.
It seems that this winter we shall find brussel sprouts and potatoes in short supply and expensive, purely because of the weather we experienced earlier in the year. The cost of all grain crops is rising, due to weather. Perhaps it is time to grow more of our own.
The flooding in Britain has been severe, probably more severe than ever before although fortunately not many people have lost their lives as a result of the flooding. The reason is probably the fact there is now a sophisticated system of flood alerts and the emergency services are well equipped with modern equipment which can save lives in circumstances where saving life fifty years ago was impossible.
Insurers wish to refuse to provide flood insurance for some homes unless the government subsidises the cost. No one could afford to insure against flooding if flooding is a regular occurrence and insurers only insure against risk where that risk is remote enough for them by pooling their risk, to make a healthy profit from the sale of the insurance policy. If insurers refuse to insure unless they get a subsidy from the taxpayer then in most cases people who have established their homes in places where the flood risk is remote will be subsidising those who took a chance and established in places where the flood risk is high. I am not sure about the ethics of that position.
November has nearly ended; it is always in my view, good to see the back of November and its rains, even though we may fear the weather that December may bring.