One couldn’t make it up!

Stop the world, I want to get off.

Cars travel through flood water in Helston, south-west Cornwall - Daily Mail August, 2013
Cars travel through flood water in Helston, south-west Cornwall – Daily Mail August, 2013

 

You can tell, undoubtedly, from the title and sub-title to today’s post that I am feeling somewhat forlorn about the way that we humans work things out!  As the old saying goes, “Question: Why has Planet Earth never been visited by an alien species? Answer: Because they have seen no signs of intelligent life!

This feeling is a result of reading a recent essay from George Monbiot, Drowning in Money.  It is republished here within his terms of sharing.

Now before you read it, if you are not living in the UK it would be easy to reject the messages as being only relevant to the United Kingdom.  But when you do read it, you will agree that this level of government policy stupidity is not the sole reserve of the UK.  The ‘virus’ is alive and well elsewhere!

ooOOoo

George Monbiot
George Monbiot

Drowning in Money

January 13, 2014

The hidden and remarkable story of why devastating floods keep happening.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 14th January 2014.

We all know what’s gone wrong, or we think we do: not enough spending on flood defences. It’s true that the government’s cuts have exposed thousands of homes to greater risk, and that the cuts will become more dangerous as climate change kicks in (1).  But too little public spending is a small part of problem. It is dwarfed by another factor, which has been overlooked in discussions in the media and statements by the government: too much public spending.

Vast amounts of public money – running into the billions – are spent every year on policies that make devastating floods inevitable. This is the story that has not been told by the papers or the broadcasters, a story of such destructive perversity that the Guardian has given me twice the usual space today in which to explain it.

Flood defence, or so we are told almost everywhere, is about how much concrete you can pour. It’s about not building houses in stupid places on the floodplain, and about using clever new engineering techniques to defend those already there (2). None of that is untrue, but it’s a small part of the story. To listen to the dismal debates of the past fortnight you could be forgiven for believing that rivers arise in the plains; that there is no such thing as upstream; that mountains, hills, catchments and watersheds are irrelevant to the question of whether or not homes and infrastructure get drowned.

The story begins with a group of visionary farmers at Pontbren, in the headwaters of Britain’s longest river, the Severn. In the 1990s they realised that the usual hill farming strategy – loading the land with more and bigger sheep, grubbing up the trees and hedges, digging more drains – wasn’t working. It made no economic sense, the animals had nowhere to shelter, the farmers were breaking their backs to wreck their own land.

So they devised something beautiful. They began planting shelter belts of trees along the contours. They stopped draining the wettest ground and built ponds to catch the water instead. They cut and chipped some of the wood they grew to make bedding for their animals, which meant that they no longer spent a fortune buying straw. Then they used the composted bedding, in a perfect closed loop, to cultivate more trees (3).

One day a government consultant was walking over their fields during a rainstorm. He noticed something that fascinated him: the water flashing off the land suddenly disappeared when it reached the belts of trees the farmers had planted. This prompted a major research programme, which produced the following astonishing results: water sinks into the soil under the trees at 67 times the rate at which it sinks into the soil under the grass (4). The roots of the trees provide channels down which the water flows, deep into the ground. The soil there becomes a sponge, a reservoir which sucks up water then releases it slowly. In the pastures, by contrast, the small sharp hooves of the sheep puddle the ground, making it almost impermeable: a hard pan off which the rain gushes.

One of the research papers estimates that, even though only 5% of the Pontbren land has been reforested, if all the farmers in the catchment did the same thing, flooding peaks downstream would be reduced by some 29% (5). Full reforestation would reduce the peaks by around 50% (6). For the residents of Shrewsbury, Gloucester and the other towns ravaged by endless Severn floods, that means, more or less, problem solved.

Did I say the results were astonishing? Well, not to anyone who has studied hydrology elsewhere. For decades the British government has been funding scientists working in the tropics, and using their findings to advise other countries to protect the forests or to replant trees in the hills, to prevent communities downstream from being swept away. But we forgot to bring the lesson home.

So will the rest of the Severn catchment, and those of the other unruly waterways of Britain, follow the Pontbren model? The authorities say they would love to do it (7). In theory. Natural Resources Wales told me that these techniques “are hard wired in to the actions we want land managers to undertake.” (8) What it forgot to say is that all tree planting grants in Wales have now been stopped. The offices responsible for administering them are in the process of closing down (9). If other farmers want to copy the Pontbren model, not only must they pay for the trees themselves; but they must sacrifice the money they would otherwise have been paid for farming that land.

For – and here we start to approach the nub of the problem – there is an unbreakable rule laid down by the Common Agricultural Policy. If you want to receive your single farm payment – by the far biggest component of farm subsidies – that land has to be free from what it calls “unwanted vegetation” (10). Land covered by trees is not eligible. The subsidy rules have enforced the mass clearance of vegetation from the hills.

Just as the tree planting grants have stopped, the land clearing grants have risen. In his speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, made during the height of the floods, the environment secretary Owen Paterson boasted that hill farmers “on the least-productive land” will now receive “the same direct payment rate on their upland farmland as their lowland counterparts.” (11) In other words, even in places where farming makes no sense because the land is so poor, farmers will now be paid more money to keep animals there. But to receive this money, they must first remove the trees and scrub that absorb the water falling on the hills.

And that’s just the start of it. One result of the latest round of subsidy negotiations – concluded in June last year – is that governments can now raise the special mountain payments, whose purpose is to encourage farming at the top of the watersheds, from €250 per hectare to €450 (12). This money should be renamed the flooding subsidy: it pays for the wreckage of homes, the evacuation of entire settlements, the drowning of people who don’t get away in time, all over Europe. Pig-headed idiocy doesn’t begin to describe it.

The problem is not confined to livestock in the mountains. In the foothills and lowlands, the misuse of heavy machinery, overstocking with animals and other forms of bad management can – by compacting the soil – increase the rates of instant run-off from 2% of all the rain that falls on the land to 60%(13).

Sometimes, ploughing a hillside in the wrong way at the wrong time of the year can cause a flood – of both mud and water – even without exceptional rainfall. This practice has blighted homes around the South Downs (that arguably should never have been ploughed at all). One house was flooded 31 times in the winter of 2000-2001 by muddy floods caused by ploughing (14). Another, in Suffolk, above which the fields had been churned up by pigs, was hit 50 times (15). But a paper on floods of this kind found that “there are no (or only very few) control measures taken yet in the UK.” (16)

Under the worst environment secretary this country has ever suffered, there seems little chance that much of this will change. In November, in response to calls to reforest the hills, Owen Paterson told parliament “I am absolutely clear that we have a real role to play in helping hill farmers to keep the hills looking as they do.” (17) (Bare, in other words). When asked by a parliamentary committee to discuss how the resilience of river catchments could be improved, the only thing he could think of was building more reservoirs (18).

But while he is cavalier and ignorant when it comes to managing land to reduce the likelihood of flooding, he goes out of his way to sow chaos when it comes to managing rivers.

Many years ago, river managers believed that the best way to prevent floods was to straighten, canalise and dredge rivers along much of their length, to enhance their capacity for carrying water. They soon discovered that this was not just wrong but counterproductive. A river can, at any moment, carry very little of the water that falls on its catchment: the great majority must be stored in the soils and on the floodplains.

By building ever higher banks around the rivers, by reducing their length through taking out the bends and by scooping out the snags and obstructions along the way, engineers unintentionally did two things. They increased the rate of flow, meaning that flood waters poured down the rivers and into the nearest towns much faster. And, by separating the rivers from the rural land through which they passed, they greatly decreased the area of functional floodplains (19, 20, 21).

The result, as authorities all over the world now recognise, was catastrophic. In many countries, chastened engineers are now putting snags back into the rivers, reconnecting them to uninhabited land that they can safely flood and allowing them to braid and twist and form oxbow lakes. These features catch the sediment and the tree trunks and rocks which otherwise pile up on urban bridges, and take much of the energy and speed out of the river. Rivers, as I was told by the people who had just rewilded one in the Lake District – greatly reducing the likelihood that it would cause floods downstream – “need something to chew on” (22, 23).

There are one or two other such projects in the UK: Paterson’s department is funding four rewilding schemes, to which it has allocated a grand total of, er, £1 million (24). Otherwise, the secretary of state is doing everything he can to prevent these lessons from being applied. Last year he was reported to have told a conference that “the purpose of waterways is to get rid of water” (25). In another speech he lambasted the previous government for a “blind adherence to Rousseauism” in refusing to dredge (26). Not only will there be more public dredging, he insists: but there will also be private dredging: landowners can now do it themselves (27).

After he announced this policy, the Environment Agency, which is his department’s statutory adviser, warned that dredging could “speed up flow and potentially increase the risk of flooding downstream.” (28) Elsewhere, his officials have pointed out that “protecting large areas of agricultural land in the floodplain tends to increase flood risk for downstream communities.” (29) The Pitt Review, commissioned by the previous government after the horrible 2007 floods, concluded that “dredging can make the river banks prone to erosion, and hence stimulate a further build-up of silt, exacerbating rather than improving problems with water capacity.” (30) Paterson has been told repeatedly that it makes more sense to pay farmers to store water in their fields, rather than shoving it off their land and into the towns.

But he has ignored all this advice and started seven pilot projects in which farmers will be permitted to drag all that messy wildlife habitat out of their rivers, to hurry the water down to the nearest urban pinch point (31). Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that Paterson has demanded massive cuts at the Environment Agency, including many of the staff responsible for preventing floods (32).

Since 2007, there has been a review, a parliamentary enquiry, two bills, new flood management programmes (33), but next to nothing has changed. Floods, because of the way we manage our land and rivers, remain inevitable. We pay a fortune in farm subsidies and river-mangling projects to have our towns flooded and homes and lives wrecked. We pay again in the form of the flood defences necessitated by these crazy policies, and through the extra insurance payments – perhaps we should call them the Paterson tax – levied on all homes. But we also pay through the loss of everything else that watersheds give us: beauty, tranquility, wildlife and, oh yes, the small matter of water in the taps.

In the Compleat Angler, published in 1653, Izaac Walton wrote this. “I think the best Trout-anglers be in Derbyshire; for the waters there are clear to an extremity.” (34) No longer. Last summer I spent a weekend walking along the River Dove and its tributaries, where Walton used to fish. All along the river, including the stretch on which the fishing hut built for him by Charles Cotton still stands, the water was a murky blueish brown. The beds of clean gravel he celebrated were smothered in silt: on some bends the accretions of mud were several feet deep.

You had only to raise your eyes to see the problem: the badly-ploughed hills of the mid-catchment and above them the drained and burnt moors of the Peak District National Park, comprehensively trashed by grouse shooting estates. A recent report by Animal Aid found that grouse estates in England, though they serve only the super-rich, receive some £37m of public money every year in the form of subsidies (35). Much of this money is used to cut and burn them, which is likely to be a major cause of flooding (36). Though there had been plenty of rain throughout the winter and early spring, the river was already low and sluggish.

A combination of several disastrous forms of upland management has been helping Walton’s beloved river to flood, with the result that both government and local people have had to invest heavily in the Lower Dove flood defence scheme (37). But this wreckage has also caused it to dry up when the rain doesn’t fall.

That’s the flipside of a philosophy which believes that land exists only to support landowners, and waterways exist only “to get rid of water”. Instead of a steady flow sustained around the year by trees in the hills, by sensitive farming methods, by rivers which are allowed to find their own course and their own level, to filter and hold back their waters through bends and braiding and obstructions, we get a cycle of flood and drought. We get filthy water and empty aquifers and huge insurance premiums and ruined carpets. And all of it at public expense.

www.monbiot.com

References:

1. https://www.foe.co.uk/blog/camerons-claims-flood-defences-dont-stack

2. http://www.architecture.com/SustainabilityHub/Designstrategies/Water/1-3-2-5-SUDS.aspx

3. Coed Cadw and Coed Cymru, no date given.The Pontbren Project
A farmer-led approach to sustainable land management in the uplands. http://www.coedcymru.org.uk/images/user/5472%20Pontbren%20CS%20v12.pdf

4. M. R. Marshall et al, 2013. The impact of rural land management changes on soil hydraulic properties and runoff processes: results from experimental plots in upland UK. Hydrological Processes, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9826. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hyp.9826/abstract

5. Howard Wheater et al, 2008. Impacts of upland land management on flood risk: multi-scale modelling methodology and results from the Pontbren experiment. FRMRC Research Report UR 16. http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/5890/1/ur16_impacts_upland_land_management_wp2_2_v1_0.pdf

6. As above.

7. See for example Natural England, Environment Agency, Defra, Welsh Government et al, 2012. Greater working with natural processes in flood and coastal erosion risk management. http://a0768b4a8a31e106d8b0-50dc802554eb38a24458b98ff72d550b.r19.cf3.rackcdn.com/geho0811buci-e-e.pdf

8. NRW, 9th January 2014, by email.

9. I talked to one of the employees over the weekend: everyone is being made redundant as all funding has ceased.

10. Official Journal of the European Union, 31st January 2009. Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009 of 19 January 2009, establishing common rules for direct support schemes for farmers under the common agricultural policy and establishing certain support schemes for farmers, amending Regulations (EC) No 1290/2005, (EC) No 247/2006, (EC) No 378/2007 and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003. Annex III. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:030:0016:0016:EN:PDF

This rule remains unchanged in the current round.

11. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/opportunity-in-agriculture

12. European Commission, 26th June 2013. CAP Reform – an explanation of the main elements. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-621_en.htm

13. Natural England, Environment Agency, Defra, Welsh Government et al, 2012. Greater working with natural processes in flood and coastal erosion risk management. http://a0768b4a8a31e106d8b0-50dc802554eb38a24458b98ff72d550b.r19.cf3.rackcdn.com/geho0811buci-e-e.pdf

14. John Boardman and Karel Vandaele , 2010. Soil erosion, muddy floods and the need for institutional memory. Area (2010) 42.4, 502–513 doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2010.00948.x http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2010.00948.x/pdf

15. R. Evans, 2010. Runoff and soil erosion in arable Britain: changes in perception and policy since 1945. Environmental Science and Policy 13, pp 1 4 1 – 1 4 9. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2010.01.001

16. John Boardman and Karel Vandaele , 2010. Soil erosion, muddy floods and the need for institutional memory. Area (2010) 42.4, 502–513 doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2010.00948.x http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2010.00948.x/pdf

17. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2013-10-10b.289.1&m=40459

18. Owen Paterson, 2013. In evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. Managing Flood Risk, Volume I. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmenvfru/330/330.pdf

19. I am grateful to Dr Richard Hey and to Charles Rangely-Wilson for the discussions we had about these issues.

20. Natural England, Environment Agency, Defra, Welsh Government et al, 2012. Greater working with natural processes in flood and coastal erosion risk management. http://a0768b4a8a31e106d8b0-50dc802554eb38a24458b98ff72d550b.r19.cf3.rackcdn.com/geho0811buci-e-e.pdf

21. Sir Michael Pitt, 2008. Learning lessons from the 2007 floods. The Pitt Review.

Click to access pitt_review_full%20pdf.pdf

22. See http://www.wildennerdale.co.uk/

23. I hope before long to write up the extraordinary story I was told by a representative of United Utilities about the sharply differing responses of the rewilded River Liza in Ennerdale and the still-canalised St John’s Beck in Thirlmere
to the famous 2009 downpour.

24. Natural England, Environment Agency, Defra, Welsh Government et al, 2012. Greater working with natural processes in flood and coastal erosion risk management. http://a0768b4a8a31e106d8b0-50dc802554eb38a24458b98ff72d550b.r19.cf3.rackcdn.com/geho0811buci-e-e.pdf

25. http://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/have-we-reached-peak-paterson/comment-page-1/

26. http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/modevents/item/improving-the-environment-and-growing-the-economy-can-we-have-it-all

27. http://charlesrangeleywilson.com/2013/04/26/a-storm-cloud-for-rivers/

28. Judy England and Lydia Burgess-Gamble, August 2013. Evidence: impacts of dredging. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/72349203/Evidence%20-%20impacts%20of%20dredging%20-%20August%2013%20%282%29.pdf

29. Environment Agency, 2009. River Severn Catchment Flood Management Plan.
Summary Report.

Click to access gemi0909bqym-b-e.pdf

30. Sir Michael Pitt, 2008. Learning lessons from the 2007 floods. The Pitt Review.

Click to access pitt_review_full%20pdf.pdf

31. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/river-maintenance-pilots-begin

32. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/07/england-floods-budget-cuts

33. Defra and the Environment Agency, 2011. Understanding the risks, empowering communities, building resilience: the national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England. http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/other/9780108510366/9780108510366.pdf

34. Chapter XVII.

35. Animal Aid, 2013. Calling the Shots: the power and privilege of the grouse-shooting elite. http://www.animalaid.org.uk/images/pdf/booklets/callingtheshots.pdf

36. See also the Upper Calder Valley Ban the Burn campaign. http://www.energyroyd.org.uk/archives/tag/ban-the-burn

37. https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/flood-defences-south-derbyshire-residents-help-protect-their-homes

ooOOoo

Just to underline that message of it not being only the UK with crazy policies, the photograph below is of a forest ridge within sight of the house here in Oregon.

A local ridge demonstrating 'clear-cutting' mania poking above the valley mist.
A local ridge demonstrating ‘clear-cutting’ mania poking above the valley mist.

Rather underlines the message contained in last Saturday’s post about rewilding: Restore large carnivores to save struggling ecosystems

32 thoughts on “One couldn’t make it up!

  1. Despite having worked for the Environment Agency (EA), I must confess to being momentarily persuaded by the outcry of the people of Muchelney in Somerset. The EA has told these people the floods that have turned their village into an island twice in the last two years were both 1-in-100 year flood events! As far as the villagers are concerned, the EA has caused the problem by not allowing surface water drains to be “maintained” (i.e. vegetation cleared and silt dredged). However, as George Monbiot points out, doing this would not solve the problem.

    However, in addition to decades of EU-sponsored regional mismanagement of land and waterways, we must face the reality of decades of industry-sponsored mismanagement of the planet. The primary problem for the people of Muchelney and everyone else is that more water is falling out of the sky more of the time. This, in turn, is being caused by more water evaporating from warmer oceans into a warmer atmosphere, which can itself now carry more moisture further and faster than it used to.

    Sadly, ideologically blinded people like Owen Paterson will probably never be able to accept this, so what chance has the population as a whole of grasping it? Well, quite a good chance, it would seem. Thanks to people like George Monbiot. Long may he continue to turn our preconceptions on their heads.

    Like

      1. Thanks for the heads-up on this (and your appreciation of my response to it). I have an unusually busy weekend ahead of me so, if you had not hinted at the relevance of this post to me, I might have missed it (so appreciation is hereby reciprocated). Also, as per Sue’s comment below, I hope you (and Jean) have a good weekend. 🙂

        Like

    1. Me too would have appreciated to be forewarned about this post. I agree with it all. But more has to be said.

      Massive effects from the CO2 built-up are getting completely obvious. Warmer air carries more moisture, and climatic latitudes are shifting north. The Western USA is entering the greatest drought ever recorded, as Baja California migrates north. (On the good side, that make the Americans more cooperative with the EU!)

      Like

      1. Must be being slow at this end? For why is there greater cooperation between the Americans and the EU? Or, even, is there greater cooperation?

        Like

    2. @Martin With reference to your own recent article, the fault lies with the ideologically myopic folk in power — but also with those responsible for not having yet found a way to throw such morons out of office without replacing them with similar morons wearing a differently cut invisible suit.

      In other words: our own worst enemy stares back at us when we look in the mirror.

      Like

      1. As the Chinese civil servant once said his friend who collected stamps, “Phraterry wirr get you nowhere” 😉 This is a phonetic joke – i.e. it needs to be spoken aloud – but, if none the wiser, please email me for an explanation!

        Like

      2. It’s a crassic!

        Speaking of phonetic jokes: I probably never will achieve my ambition to stand up in front of a crowd and begin:

        “Anaka’s Tomb de Zaiyam, Toopubliqs, Peking…”

        Like

      3. I am ashamed to say I had to read that aloud several times before I got it, even though…
        “Eye-yam een-toxy-kayted wizzee exube-ransov myone verb-ossy-tee.”

        Like

  2. Many places are built without considering their location in what was probably wet lands long ago… We do not see the damage we do all around the globe by uprooting of trees… Trees are our infrastructure which binds the land together.. Not only are we seeing these floods keep happening.. But in places of deforestation we hear of Mudslides sweeping whole villages away because the trees no longer hold the high ground together with their roots…
    We come along with our little plans, and build on Greenbelts, and wonder why when rivers burst their banks as the water has no where to flow..
    The ground is now criss-crossed in tarmac and concrete homes build drives and pull-ins for their Cars and the water washes into the streets as it no longer has lawns and gardens to soak into..
    WE are altering the structure of our environment.. And yet we blame Nature for flooding… When in fact we are the culprits… Thank you for this post… I enjoyed reading ..
    Have a peaceful Weekend Paul..
    Sue

    Like

  3. Sorry to hear that – as I am usually several levels of hopelessness below you this news kinda has me worried ….. just remember this, Homo Nonsapiens can be very stupid until the crunch comes, and then we can often be sublime.
    One of my favourite films is “Starman”, and at one point Jeff Bridges (what an INCREDIBLE performance he achieved in this film) turned to the lovely Jenny Hayden and said:

    “Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.”

    Like

    1. @Chris What you term ‘homo nonsapiens’ I call ‘homo fatuus brutus’ (‘the foolish, stupid man’). I agree, Starman is a very well told yarn, and Jeff Bridges does do a marvellous job portraying an alien floundering in human form. Seems to me from this Monbiot piece that we’re much the same, ourselves, but we still look in the mirror every day and bizarrely think “all’s well” :/

      Like

      1. Mr. P., maybe it’s self-delusional but there’s a growing sense with some of the friends that we speak with that we are entering unknown times. The strange weather has affected millions and the recent drought emergency in California is focussing minds, and views.

        Like

      2. Yep, as anticipated: in that brief moment before head-on collision the last thing to go through the driver’s mind before the brick wall does is “hmm… maybe I should have been braking rather than accelerating?”

        Like

  4. Paul,

    Thanks for alerting me tp George Monbiot’s (2014) brilliant investigative Guardian piece “Drowning in Money: the untold story of the crazy public spending that makes flooding inevitable: Every year billions are spent in Britain and Europe on policies that wreck homes and lives through flooding” at .

    You introduced his article as follows:

    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
    I am feeling somewhat forlorn about the way that we humans work things out! As the old saying goes:
    Q1. Why has Planet Earth never been visited by an alien species?
    A1. Because they have seen no signs of intelligent life!”
    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

    BUT:
    Q2. Do “alien species” exist in the Universe?
    A2. Probably Not! – see ” ‘Where is Everybody?’ Failure to Detect Intelligence in the Universe is Due to Failure of Universities Throughout the Universe” [Hake (2013)] available at http://bit.ly/H3roIC (6.8 MB).
    ******************************************

    Regards,

    Richard Hake

    Like

  5. Paul,

    Thanks for your offer to tidy up my original comment. I assume you can also eliminate my then superfluous corrective comments, including this one.

    Sorry for the bother.

    Richard Hake

    “Genius is the ability to make all possible
    mistakes in the shortest possible time.”
    John Wheeler (possibly derived from Niels Bohr)

    Like

  6. My definition of sustainability is “action in harmony with nature” … the outcomes of the floods in Britain reveals the inability of humanity to work with nature, an outcome that UK decision-makers either adapt to or suffer the consequences from.

    Like

  7. I have a simple – and some would say simplistic – view of all this, which is:

    A) There are FAR more concerned people than unconcerned, the latter being those who ravage the planet without conscience.

    B) The majority of concerned are too nice to get tough enough to do anything effective.

    Until we start punishing (not a very PC word) people who pollute both atmosphere and sea, nothing will change, since the unconcerned minority certainly WON’T change.

    Just an example. Am I right in saying that ships still just chuck their rubbish into the sea, including plastic and God knows WHAT pollutants? If so, can’t drones be used instead of killing people to detect ships doing this and the free world’s navies sent to arrest the captain and impound the ships to be sold for scrap? THAT WOULD STOP IT.

    Like

  8. My original comment on 17 Jan 2014 contained three (3) *crucial* URLs, all of which were eliminated by WordPress because they were surrounded by angle brackets. Here’s another try WITH the 3 URLs:

    Paul,

    Thanks for alerting me tp George Monbiot’s (2014) brilliant investigative Guardian piece “Drowning in Money: the untold story of the crazy public spending that makes flooding inevitable: Every year billions are spent in Britain and Europe on policies that wreck homes and lives through flooding” at http://bit.ly/1i6eglA .

    You introduced his article as follows:

    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

    I am feeling somewhat forlorn about the way that we humans work things out! As the old saying goes:
    Q1. Why has Planet Earth never been visited by an alien species?

    A1. Because they have seen no signs of intelligent life!”
    
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
    BUT:

    Q2. Do “alien species” exist in the Universe?
    
A2. Probably Not! – see ” ‘Where is Everybody?’ Failure to Detect Intelligence in the Universe is Due to Failure of Universities Throughout the Universe” [Hake (2013)] available at http://bit.ly/H3roIC (6.8 MB).

    ******************************************
    To access my complete 49 kB post “Do ‘alien species’ exist in the Universe?” please click on http://bit.ly/1kHEm0i .

    Regards,

    Richard Hake

    Like

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