Viridian Note 00207: Extreme Weather "Normal" in Britain

Bruce Sterling <>
Thu, 2 Nov 2000 11:57:02 -0600
Key concepts
UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, normalisation of extreme weather, record-breaking British floods, weather violence, infrastructure design, emergency services, tree loss, power outages, British transport

Attention Conservation Notice: Euro politics, more UK weather disasters, so similar to last year's weather violence that even the government is noticing.

(((This Viridian Note was composed and sent by Sussex inhabitant^^*** (Dave Phelan).)))

The Guardian, 1st November 2000,2763,39 0874,00.html

"Weather: 'action now essential' "Extreme events will be the norm - Prescott

Paul Brown, environment correspondent Wednesday November 1, 2000

"Extreme weather events must now be regarded as normal in Britain as global warming takes hold, and the railways, power lines and flood defences must adapt to cope, John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, said yesterday.

"As the flooding worsened in the north-east to include Leeds and York, and towns along the Severn braced for inundation overnight, he told MPs that the country must not be brought to a standstill every time there was a severe storm.

"Government officials, local authorities, emergency services and the environment agency have been summoned to a meeting in London today where Mr Prescott will demand action. 'We have to ask ourselves if we are doing enough to cope with the new situation,' he said.

"'This storm should be a wake-up call for everyone. Our infrastructure should be robust enough, and our preparations rigorous enough, to withstand the kind of weather we have just experienced.'

"Planning for 'extreme circumstances' did not seem to be included in the current arrangements, he said. 'I have constantly seen on the railway lines on the east coast, where [the overhead wires] are pulled down quite regularly because they were built on the cheap.

"'We aren't putting the amount of resources and investment in for what we call more extreme conditions, which we must now accept [are] normal. We have to ask ourselves: should our power lines come down every time we have such storms? Should 1,000 trees fall across our railway lines in the south-east? Should we do more to prevent flooding? Are our drainage systems really adequate?'

"He said the government had already provided extra money for the environment agency for flood defences. (...)

"He praised the efforts of emergency services but said: 'What we need is to take a longer term look at how as a country we can be better placed to deal with extreme weather events, which we expect to be more frequent in future.'

"He said this week's events gave more impetus to the coming talks at the Hague on how to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases which cause global warming. 'All these incidents of climate change are reminding everyone, wherever they are in developed or developing countries, that this affects us all. Climate issues have no boundaries,' he said.

"Last night there were still 33 severe flood warnings on rivers. In the south-east == the worst hit on Monday == 11 rivers were still overflowing their banks, but mopping up had begun. Elsewhere, levels were rising.

"Four hundred properties were expected to be flooded overnight in Shrewsbury and downstream on the Severn in Bewdley, Ironbridge and Worcester. The centre of Leeds was flooded last night after 85mm (3.3in) of rain fell in 24 hours and the river Aire burst its banks. The Aire reached its highest level for 50 years and flooded Skipton, Stockbridge, Shipley and Cottingley. York was flooded by the river Foss.

"The environment agency said that with more rain expected tonight and tomorrow, further flooding was expected, because almost all rivers and streams were at full capacity and the soil was saturated.

"Seven people are known to have died. Two others are missing after they were swept away in Northamptonshire and Birmingham on Monday.

"An Italian tanker on tow after its 14 crew were airlifted to safety on Monday sank in the Channel near Alderney yesterday. France was alarmed that its 6,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals might cause an environmental disaster." (((French shipping's Wexelblat disaster #2 after last year's tempests and "black tides" == bruces)))

"Railtrack said trains were running on most routes, but many were restricted to emergency timetables (...).

"The company said the storms caused 'unprecedented' damage and many miles of track in the west country, south Wales and the north-west were still under water."

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