Monday, 6 February 2012

Climate Change.

I have tried to avoid Climate Change as a topic so far, but the latest news from our cash strapped government is that we have to prepare for flooding on a much larger scale.  A study says flooding caused by climate change could affect five million people. (those with houses built on a flood plain)  We can expect hotter drier summers, but with much heavier downpours of rain in the autumn and winter months.

In an expected response to a perceived problem the government has cut the flood management budget to about 50% of what it was previously, which was at a woefully poor level already! I hope no one ever tells them that the Inland Waterways are strapped for cash - Whoops looks like someone already has.

Warmer winters have significant environmental and economic implications, and a wide range of research indicates that pests and plant diseases, usually killed back by sharp frosts, are likely to flourish if the climate continues to warm and at the same time remain wet. Get ready for a sudden surge in Hogweed, Knotweed, Balsam and DEFRA bullshit! 

So here is my long term weather view based on my experience.

When I was a kid, I can remember that most years we had and inch or few of snow for a week or so. Every few years we had a deeper snowfall that might reach a couple of feet. I can remember building and igloo by piling up the snow into a big mound,  patting it down then digging out the centre. For me and my memory 1963, was a cold winter that was quite prolonged. Snow was more abundant and was around for much longer than normal. When my kids were growing up I can only remember one instance of heavy snow which was soon gone. Most of the time it was an inch or two. We never did get to build that igloo!

Recently, we seem to get snow most years, but only enough to screw the transport systems for a week or two. More recently there has been more widespread snow and thicker ice in winter.

I was brought up at the confluence of two rivers. There were the usual cycles of floods that came and went. On two occasions I can remember our house (built on a flood plain and a good twenty five feet plus above the normal river level) being cut off, but we were never actually flooded out.

In 2007 we had the severe floods that hit Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster area. If we had been living in our old home we would have been under 10 feet of water.

So what can we do about it?

Over the years because of the deep seated memories gained from living in a flood plain. I have only ever bought property that has been located at the top of a hill. Here in chateau "Wits End" we have a commanding view of the countryside for miles in each direction. But even we are not safe from surface water flash floods. We have had two in the last 10 years. The hill top is possibly 40% covered in tarmac, patio and various buildings. Just below the surface soil, is a deep layer of clay. When the rain is exceptionally heavy, we get road surface water running down local drives. I had to make changes to our garden layout to deflect surplus surface water from entering our garage. It is now deflected straight down the side of the house into our back garden which is about 10 feet below road level.

Here the mini-flash flood is then dispersed into our garden and then into our adjoining neighbours gardens. Now the house behind has been making changes. The roof line of their home is just about level with our back garden. Our neighbour is an anti social sort of cove - who's attitude is one of superiority - to everyone else in the locality. More than anything else he is a DIY maniac - at a civil engineering level.

Their once large but gently sloping back garden is now a very steep 25 feet below ours. It has has recently been almost totally converted with the aid of a mini-digger into a huge patio area. Complete with a child's Wendy house and a high retaining wall, tied to the side of their house! Now, the majority of their garden area now slopes towards their back door. I can't help but think there is a real surprise in store for someone with the next heavy rain induced mini-flash flood. One that will be creating an indoor-outdoor lido! I wonder if he will build a water slide next, whoops I think he may already have!


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