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Does the UK Really Want to Face the True Issues of Flooding?

29/12/2015 10:41 GMT | Updated 29/12/2016 10:12 GMT

Unlike many other countries around the world, the United Kingdom really only faces two natural hazards, although they are great ones (in size not wonder). They are of course the threat of flooding, an ever growing one at that, and landslides. Both can be linked to rainfall and thus stormier and possibly more unpredictable and extreme weather, a clear result of climate change. Inspite of this, people only really seem to notice these threats when they go from hazard to disaster, as we are currently seeing this week in the UK.

Flooding is nothing new in UK and has been a known threat for hundreds of years, with records of societies being flooded across the UK going back many years. Yet, while older societies became aware of the threats and adapted to them by moving away or only farming areas for a summer and never building on them, we have forged a path of risk and our modern global lifestyles have only worsened this risk. It is odd really, but when we mention climate change you do not really think it is going to effect us now. It is an idea that always seems to be based around 'it will happen', not is happening. It's a big idea we don't think will hit us until 2050 or so, but it is already worsening a precarious situation. The northern-English flooding, like all natural disasters, is saddening and worrying. Increased flood events are occurring as we see more extreme weather and possibly worse development decisions, as we put more people on areas prone to flooding and known as a risk. Instead of moving away from risk areas like we used to, we move onto them hoping the government will find a way to bring a halt to nature and its dynamic ways. That appears to be the first key big issue; if no one was there no one could be affected. Of course this can be linked to increased demand for housing etc but they are issues for another day.

Another issue seen from this event and past as well as my own research, is that those who live on these at risk areas simply do not realise the risk they face, but also do not know how to mitigate the impacts or adapt to the flooding. To me, a lack of education and information is evident and is only brought forth when a flooding event, like what is happening in the north of England, occurs. The Environment Agency provides a huge swathe of information but not in an easily sharable way, not until flooding strikes anyway. If people first new the risk then preparation may be put in place faster and more efficiently. The correct preparation is essential as well, as I have recently discovered that sandbags are pretty useless during flooding. They actually tend to just filter the water instead of actually stopping it. So you must ask why are they provided by every organisation and the like? Well its because they are designed to be covered with something or used to support something, like some wood or covered in tar-paulin. This then stops the water and doesn't just slow it.

Which brings me on to the final key issue, and one of debate across the UK. That idea/issue is the natural flowing of water. Hydrology is a naturally dynamic idea and process. Rivers and streams naturally collect debris which may build into a small dam or simply slow the flow of water, they invite species of plants which collect material to build up sediment which leads to meanders which leads to slower river flows, they entice animal species too which help build natural river embankments and defences of their own. Natural systems allow natural processes to occur, with extremes ironed out naturally. The issue is we now clear everything from rivers, we channelize, we build near them and make them unnatural. We try to stop a dynamic and natural system in un-dynamic and un-natural ways. We will have to adapt around rivers and such for fewer events, such as the flooding currently occurring, to happen again. Instead of learning from nature many want to ignore it and say those want to use nature for flood protection are 'leftie environmentalist with no real-world idea'. The environment has provided us a lot so far, maybe if we allowed it some land it could help us a bit more.