The UK is experiencing significant flooding from recent storms. The most recent area is the Severn Valley. This change in the pattern of rainfall is likely a result of climate changing weather patterns.
Understandably there are many calls for better flood defences, but less on the causes of these floods. Large amounts of rain are deposited on the large catchment areas of these river systems in a short period of time. A major factor in why this water reaches the lower Severn valley so quickly is the lack of vegetation in catchment areas (particularly in Wales) which are given over to sheep farming. The same applies to other upland areas in the UK.
I written in my book, Zero Carbon our Choice, about the need to reconsider this. The UK needs to plant 3 billion new trees to meet its zero carbon target according to the Committee on Climate Change. A holistic policy approach would prioritise tree planting for carbon reduction and to reduce flood risk over time. While flood defences are needed downstream, reducing the flow at source upstream is a cheaper, long term approach to the issue.
This is a good example that responding to climate change doesn’t mean more of the same. Aside from considering whether our personal and collective actions and choices are changing the climate, we need to think in a different way about how we respond to a changing climate.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
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