One casualty of the worst September storms in decades has been the town of Tadcaster in North Yorkshire. It has been split in two after flooding forced the closure of a major road bridge over the River Wharfe.
The Mayor of Tadcaster, Steve Cobb, said the Wharfe was at its highest level since major floods hit the area in 2000. He said a number of businesses close to the river had been flooded. “We’re one community but we are split in two today,” Mr Cobb said.
“We are totally dependent on the bridge. It’s a four or five mile trip around without it, just to get to the other side. We have a doctor’s on one side, schools on both sides, all sorts of businesses on either side. We’ve got our fingers crossed. We’ve got everything crossed.”
The Mayor of Tadcaster doesn’t know it but he has a lot in common with Kazi Mahmudullah who lives on the other side of the world in Bangladesh, a country which knows all about floods. Every day he has to jostle with hundreds of buses, trucks, cars and other vehicles to get on a ferry to take him across the river Ganges to get to his job in a solar power factory. READ MORE
Have you heard the joke about the drowning man? You know the one in which a man is stuck on his rooftop during a flood and prays to God who first sends a rowing boat, then a motor boat and finally a helicopter to save him……..*
In terms of the climate talks in Bangkok which have just finished on 5 September they will probably go down in history as being the motor boat. However, the next set of climate talks in Doha beginning on 26 November will definately be the helicopter.
Last year large areas of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, were underwater and on the verge of being evacuated. Fast forward nine months and the capital is now host to the latest United Nations conference on climate change from 30 August to 5 September, talks which are also entering deep water. The outcome could determine whether or not the Kyoto protocol sinks or swims and with it many flood prone countries around the world.
The 2011 floods in Thailand were the worst in 50 years and afterwards Thailands Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawtra, said “We need to learn a lesson from the big flood last year”. That lesson is that once rare and extreme weather events associated with climate change are now increasingly becoming a part of everyday life for many vulnerable people around the world.
Mahatma Gandi once famously said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. However, for most of us the reality is that we find change difficult. Whether it’s changing jobs, moving home or far more challenging issues like dealing with redundancy, divorce or illness, change is rarely easy.
When it comes to countries dealing with change, just like the rest of us they don’t find it easy but some are better prepared than others. Last week the UK based risk analysts Maplecroft published a Natural Hazards Risk Atlas looking at how different countries deal with climate related changes such as flooding and tropical cyclones.
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