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SUSTAINABILITY Floods – what’s the plan?

Outdoor Living
The whole world’s in your hands


Growing your own

Chris Brown

As the impact of global warming starts to bite deeper and we start to realise that collectively we have de-stabilised what was a beautifully balanced world, the difficulty of being able to do much about it becomes clear.
Running out of fossil fuels is an inevitable event, because coal and oil take millions of years to form and yet burn up in a matter of hours.
It seems that now we just can’t manage without the use of machines, and we continue to extract finite resources to power them. We know that if we didn’t exploit the earth’s fuels someone else would. Countries like China and India will not be talked into giving up their ambitions to own the goods we in the ‘developed’ countries have got accustomed to.
The hard fact we must face is that burning these non-replaceable fuels to make our lives easier has altered, and continues to alter, the molecular structure of the atmosphere which contains increasing ever amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) which in turn causes temperatures to rise.
The world is starting to resemble an ice-lolly dropped on the pavement on a hot afternoon, melting and becoming slushy – a cause for concern because water levels held at the poles in the form of ice, will rise elsewhere. Low-lying countries like Bangladesh, which sits on a delta, are very vulnerable as are towns and villages situated in valleys, and we should also remind ourselves that the midlands of Ireland are practically at sea level.
It’s obvious that the world’s political leaders don’t have the ability to find a plan of action against global warming, and instead of drawing skills together to form a cohesive strategy to help prepare us against flooding, they choose instead to hold Climate Change Conferences. Thousand of delegates and the world’s media fly to cities like Copenhagen, guzzle huge amounts of fuel and spout emissions of drivel about percentage reductions in greenhouse gas output, to be reached by the year tiddly-pop, that no one can manage (or has ever managed) to achieve.
So what can we do?
When forming a strategy certain conclusions are bound to be reached. Firstly, we will have to think locally. Most things we currently rely on travel long journeys to be with us but it’s foolish to imagine this will always be the case. The distance goods travel just has to be an issue when the world’s fuel is drawn from an ever-dwindling pot. When the apples from New Zealand stop arriving we will be cornered into asking not ‘where are the French apples?’ or even ‘where are the Irish apples?’ but ‘where are the County Mayo apples?’. This approach will have to be taken by communities the world over. A massive shift in the world’s current policy! It is up to us to plant apples trees and buy or trade for apples growing on trees closer to home.
Secondly, The essentials of life have to be the focus. We can manage without plane rides or even shoes, but drinking water is the provider of life. If, for example, flood water, with its mix of sewerage and chemicals, gets into the drinking water supply it will ruin it. The advantage of having clean water stored high in low-lying regions, in a water tower for example, is fairly obvious. (Then again, the obvious always seems obvious to only a few).
We don’t wear seat belts in cars expecting to have a crash but we’ve had the sense to put them in vehicles just in case. Surely to have a flood plan, ie the storage of essentials like food and water, in high places, makes sense. Imagine the scenario where all the food in the house is stored on the ground floor which is under filthy flood water. Having a store of essentials high up in a building, a decision helped in the making by having flood-water defence advice plan already in place, would be very helpful. Formulating such a plan really needs our attention.

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