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UK floods: 10 ‘must read’ articles on climate, science and resilience

Politicians, economists, scientists and comedians have their say on worst floods to hit the UK for 50 years

Flooding near Oxford in the UK (Pic: Environment Agency)

Flooding near Oxford in the UK (Pic: Environment Agency)

Lord Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change
“If we do not cut emissions, we face even more devastating consequences, as unchecked they could raise global average temperature to 4C or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century … the shift to such a world could cause mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people away from the worst-affected areas. That would lead to conflict and war, not peace and prosperity.” – Guardian

Peter Stott, head of the Climate Monitoring and Attribution team at the UK Met Office
“It is clear that global warming has led to an increase in moisture in the atmosphere – with about four per cent more moisture over the oceans than in the 1970s – which means that when conditions are favourable to the formation of storms there is a greater risk of intense rainfall.” – Carbon Brief

Richard Benyon, former UK Environment Minister
“When it comes to public anger we should remember that in the last four years we have seen two years of drought and two of floods. If 2012 had been as dry as the previous two years we would have faced some very serious anger in 2013 – the sixth largest economy in the world would have had standpipes in the streets and businesses would have closed for lack of the most basic raw material. In building resilience to how we manage water we have to deal with both extremes.” – Guardian

James Murray, BusinessGreen editor
“We need to do everything in our power to stop that movie about a 4C world being broadcast and, while it definitely helps in its own way, simply changing the terminology around how to cope with it is not going to cut it. It is time for green business leaders and politicians to seize the moment.” – BusinessGreen

Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph Political Commentator
“It is both disrespectful and ignorant to compare the floods that have struck Britain with the terrible devastation that is a fact of everyday life in developing countries – or to argue that we should cut off our aid spending there to pay for repairs here.” – Daily Telegraph

Lord Deben, head of the UK Committee on Climate Change
“It’s all too typical of our short-term perspectives that so many have concentrated on easy answers and facile blame. We won’t solve our problems by indiscriminate dredging or sacking the chairman of the Environment Agency. Nor is it a simple matter of resources. We have to have a programme of long-term adaptation that enables the UK to cope with these fundamental and irreversible changes.” – Guardian

Matthew D’ancona, Eveny Standard commentator
“If the PM truly believes that anthropogenic global warming is responsible for potentially catastrophic changes in the weather — then it ought, logically, to be his priority, more important even than economic recovery. One cannot be “pragmatic” or “in favour of sensible compromise” about a threat to the survival of the human race. So what’s it going to be, Mr Cameron?” – Evening Standard

Financial Times Editorial
“It is indisputable that there has been a marked global increase in cases of extreme weather since 1980, with loss and damage from climate disasters rising markedly in the past 30 years. It would be prudent to assume this trend will not reverse – and that a country with a long coastline must take action if it is not to be regularly troubled by extreme flooding.” – Financial Times

Paul Mason – Channel 4 News
“To equip Britain strategically to deal with floods, heatwaves, storm surges and high winds we are going to need a holistic, joined-up plan, that links building regulations, railway plans, sea defences and drainage projects. To stop burning carbon at a rate that heads off catastrophe, we are going to have to engineer a very rapid transition to a mix of renewables and nuclear, together with a very radical change in the way we consume energy - i.e. towards electrical power and away from gas.” – Channel 4

Mark Steel – Independent
“The puzzling part is that amongst the scientists whose job is to study these matters, there is no disagreement that rising carbon emissions have altered the climate. So continually debating it, as if both sides  are equally valid, makes as much sense as saying: “Now for sport. In the Winter Olympics the ski-jumping final takes place today, but first I’m going to talk to Bill, who says there can’t be any ski-jumping because gravity doesn’t exist.” - Independent

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