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Boscastle – and other floods

We have endless claims that global warming caused the Boscastle floods in Cornwall.

Now global warming may be a real problem, and it may be caused (at least in part) by human action (rather than sunspot activity and/or other natural factors). But I do not hear many people (although there are a few) saying “oh we must have more nuclear power stations to replace C02 generating power sources” – instead it is just the normal capitalism is evil stuff and demans for more wind turbines and other such (whose contribution to power generation can, at best, only be minor).

There is also something else to be thought about. The endless talk about global warming distracts attention from other factors that might be involved in the flooding.

Cornwall has had very heavy rain before in the past – and the buildings than have been flooded were centuries old. Could the flooding have anything to do with the narrowing of the river (in a government ‘reclaim land’ scheme) and the building of a new road bridge?

A letter in the Daily Telegraph yesterday claimed exactly this – and was ignored by the broadcast media.

It reminds me of the flooding in the South East of England some time ago. There were endless claims that it was due to global warming – and much later (and without much publicity) it slipped out that there had been various government building schemes that had undermined the drainage system of the area concerned.

Not all government ‘investment’ is just a waste of money (and therefore a denial of what people could have done with the money, had it not been taken from them), some of it causes direct harm as well.

23 comments to Boscastle – and other floods

  • Dave

    oh we must have more nuclear power stations to replace C02 generating power sources

    Sounds like a bloody good idea to me.

    I’m concerned about anthropomorphic global warming -although I’m not convinced it’s the whole story – but I’m much more concerned about relying on oil and so forth, especially at times like this.

    We can’t get completely away from oil – hydrogen doesn’t work well as an aircraft fuel, but for domestic electricity and personal transport, we really ought to be moving to a solar/nuclear/hydrogen economy. For the UK preferably before North Sea reserves run out. I’m not sure I fancy having domestic gas supplies reliant on Russian and Malaysian imports.

  • OT… seeing Cornwall mentioned sent me back to the Blue Anchor and the Wardroom at Culdrose….

    If you get to the Blue Anchor, take a second to tip your pint to a Florida Blogger who remembers the unique “aroma” of the Pub.


  • Julian Morrison

    Surely you mean anthropogenic? Anthropomorphic is when they draw the clouds with faces 😉

    Personally my take on global warming is:
    – it’s bunk
    – but if it isn’t, it’s overblown
    – but if it isn’t, it’s mostly harmless
    – but if it isn’t, people will cope
    – regardless, property rights trump all.

  • Verity

    What Julian Morrison said.

  • M. Simon

    America is the Saudi Arabia of wind.

    We could (with suitable storage) supply the electrical needs of whole country with wind.

    To say that wind has no major future today, is like saying that oil will only be a minor enegy source in 1900. The future is coal – boy.

    In America today wind is competitive with natural gas. As the turbines get large it will eventually cost less than coal.

    BTW I’m a former Naval Nuke so I would say my anti-nuclear prejudice is small.

  • Dave

    anthropogenic Umm… yes I did. D’oh. Long day. Still, happy clouds sound fun 😉

    People will cope – they’ll just be doing from high ground 😉

  • David Beatty

    M. Simon, I seriously doubt wind will ever make that much of a contribution. It’s heavily subsidized, requires large amounts of land, has very dimished output over larger areas of land, and cannot deliver a stable voltage (hydropower and nuclear deliver very stable voltages).

    Howard Hayden has some good articles on wind, and his book “The Solar Fraud” spells out the physics of why wind will not be a major energy source.

  • Daniel

    Of course you’re forgetting the main implication of all this…it’s clearly George Bush’s fault.

    It would be funny, if it didn’t shape attitudes to the point of seriously affecting policy.

  • I frequently say we need more nuclear power to reduce the global warming threat. I also note that we have now so fully polluted the seas with mercury that many kinds of fish are no longer safe to eat — and the mercury pollution is almost entirely due to burning fossil fuels. Kilowatt for kilowatt, fossil fuels produce more radioactive pollution in the air, more dangerous heavy metal pollution, etc., than nuclear ever could in the worst realistic scenarios.

  • J.Peacock

    Nuclear power is of course non renewable and there is still the problem of disposing the waste products.

  • T.Down

    The interesting thing about the nuclear waste issue is that you’re stuck with it as soon as you start any non-trivial program for nuclear power (or weapons). It could be a pretty good argument for not getting into nukes. But having started… all the big nuke-users have a serious waste issue already. Once facilities are in place to store/reprocess/dispose of the stuff, they may as well get the maximum use out of them.

    Personally, I’m far more confident that the waste will get dealt with if there’s an active, developing, nuke industry to deal with it. Once the power stations are shut down, who’s really going to remember all the waste rotting away, let along have the expertise to deal with it?

  • Nick Mallory

    It’s funny how environmentalists are now protesting against wind farms despoiling the moors after years of demanding more renewable energy sources.

    A major problem regarding flooding is the ruthless drainage of fields and marshlands by farmers. Instead of being held up in marshes, damp meadows and woodland and being released slowly over time, the rain now just rushes down the field drains and ditches straight into the rivers. The landslides which plague India and Nepal are caused by deforestation, rather than rain, but we have a similar problem here.

    Large subsidies were paid to farmers to drain land, and now massive amounts will be demanded to build flood defences. If you build houses on drained marshlands, channel rivers in artificial banks and then blame the consequences on world wide trends which you can’t affect and may not even exist, then you’re in trouble if you’re looking for solutions.

    I remember in David Nobb’s ‘Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin’ the running joke of a weather record being broken every day somewhere in Britain. Today every flood, drought, freeze and hot spell geta linked to Global Warming by the media and so Global Warming looks like a major problem.

    Just as the recreation of salt marshes are the best form of sea defence, so the recreation of our once substantial marshlands would be the best way to prevent such flash flooding again.

  • Shannon Love

    Projects intended to control natural waterways often make catastrophic floods worse. Drainage projects seek to prevent localized flooding by rapidly removing water from a locality like a field or neighborhood and channeling it quickly into a major drain source like a river. This works well for 99% percent of the rainfall but if you get a real spike in rainfall then the rapid draining creates a destructive surge in the drain source which destroys adjacent infrastructure like dikes and bridges.

    Also, dikes and other flood prevention improvements both raise the general level of rivers and they encourage people to build expensive structures in areas “protected” by the dikes. When the dikes eventually fail the resulting damage is much worse.

  • Guy Herbert

    “We could (with suitable storage) supply the electrical needs of whole country with wind.”

    Well that’s the trouble with wind. No-one since King Aeolus has had the storage bit figured out. There’s pretty much always too much or too little, or it is in the wrong place. Some places (Hawaii springs to mind) it is likely to work really well; most, not.

    The whole energy sources argument strikes me as slightly weird? Why do so many people think there’s one good solution to “the energy problem” for everywhere, everywhen? It’s as mad as suggesting everyone in the world, or the country, should eat at McDonalds/macrobiotically and that would solve “the food problem”. There isn’t one problem; there isn’t one solution.

    The biggest problems are mediated by superstitious or regulatory barriers to change. Most cities could get a very good deal burning trash and digesting sewage for methane. But the former is verboten by pseudoenvironmentalists making mysterious gestures and pronouncing the magic word “dioxin”, the latter runs up against entrenched health rules from a former era and old infrastructural investment.

    Let a hundred flowers bloom.

  • A Simbon

    Take a look at this! Trust the Auzzies to come up with a scheme that produces more hot air than power 🙂 But at 1 kilometre tall it will surely be an astonishing structure once it is complete.

  • Ian Bennett

    (OT) oceanguy, although I live 450 miles away, I’m a regular at the Blue Anchor, and know many guys at Culdrose. I’ll be there in 6 weeks; I’ll have a pint for you.

  • Julian Taylor

    Would anyone dare to suggest that the Lynmouth flood disaster in 1952 was caused by global warming? Yet that catastrophe appears very similar to the what we have seen at Boscastle, albeit there was a large loss of life at Lynmouth.

  • Jacob

    Personally my take on global warming is:
    – We don’t know if there is global warming – the data is ambiguous.
    – We have no idea what causes it (if it exists).
    – There is nothing we can do about it. (And nothing we sould try to do).
    – Trying to predict temperatures 100 years from now is silly.
    – Even when the worst scenarios predicted by alarmists come to pass, like sea levels rising 2 feet, mankind will easily adapt.

  • llamas

    I’ve spent several happy vacations in Boscastle and was sorry to see what happened there.

    If you move into a certain county in the Front Ranges of the Rockies, in Colorado, and buy land with an eye to building a home, you’ll get an interesting little booklet from the county. It’s called ‘The Code of the West’ and it tells you what to expect when you choose to live there. One tidbit of wisdom from that booklet sticks in my mind. It says, in summary,

    ‘If you build a home where a creek used to be, sooner or later, you’ll have a creek where your home used to be.’

    Boscastle is built along a very long, narrow ravine, and I doubt that it’s gotten any wider since I was there. All the ground around it is much, much higher, and it all drains into that ravine. The ravine got as wide as it was because of floods in the past, only an idiot would belive that such floods would never come again.



  • dick

    Funny you should mention bridges. When I was a kid just starting college – back in the dark ages – the entire west end of my home town was flooded. Turned out that the Army Corps of Engineers had built a bridge and the piers holding up the bridge were so big that they functioned as a dam. We had a huge snow storm that melted over the weekend and the bridge just backed the water up over the entire western half of town. They had row boats tied up to the parking meters on the main street and my parents were rescued by row boat and they lived 15 blocks from the river.

    I don’t know about your global warming but we had the coldest winter in years last year and this summer has been at least 10 degrees cooler than normal. If this is global warming, keep it up. I live in NYC and have had my air conditioning on for 5 days this year. Lovely!!

  • sophie briggs

    i think that we shoul put a stop to all these floods

  • lucy

    im doing a project on the lynmouth flood 1952…… it has to be in tomorrow and ive hardly done anything. its so hard…. 🙁

  • jenna

    i dnt no y it all started but i need to know can any 1 help?????????