THIS year has seen some of the worst floods, with areas from Aberdeenshire down to Lancashire under water. Large swathes of Northern cities like York, Leeds and Manchester were filled with muddy brown water. Families caught up in the deluge of Storms Desmond and Eva not only had their Christmas ruined, but face months of clearing up. Some were flooded twice, three times in the space of a few weeks. Others had seen it all before only a few years ago.
David Cameron put on his grim face and did the rounds in his second-best wellies (apparently worried that his £100 best pair would cause envy). “Clearly we should look again at whether there’s more we can do,” he said, pretty much like two years ago when he promised, “There are always lessons to be learned and I will make sure they are learned.”
The truth is that the government knows floods are becoming a regular feature of Britain, and they know that this is because of climate change. Britain’s five wettest winters on record have happened since 2000. As the earth warms up, more water evaporates and falls in ever-more devastating fashion.
Yet despite the government’s own experts warning that there is a £500,000 shortfall in flood defence spending, Cameron has cut this spending by 27 per cent since he became prime minister. Almost 300 proposed defence schemes have not gone ahead.
To make matters worse, the Tories are hell-bent on reversing green measures taken by Labour in the last decade. They have cut subsidies for wind farms and solar panel installations while turning to gas-fired power stations and encouraging fracking. More fossil fuels means more greenhouse gas emissions and more floods.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change says green technologies must “stand on their own two feet”. This is the economics of the madhouse. Consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers calculate the total cost of the damage caused by this year’s floods alone at £15 billion. Do the maths!
Labour must demand all the proposed flood defences are fully financed, demand an end to the fracking experiment and demand investment in alternative and renewable energy sources. Jeremy Corbyn’s promise of a “Green New Deal” and a million green jobs has never been more urgent. Ultimately, facing up to the climate catastrophe means a global response - something the competing capitalist nation states have proven completely incapable of.