Climate Debate Is Distracting From Real Causes Of Flooding, Top Experts Warn
The debate about climate change is distracting us from the true causes of flooding, a group of eminent scientists have warned.
Concreting over flood plains, cutting down trees and expanding cities is making flooding much worse – and we need to act on that knowledge, they said.
The exact link between global warming and flooding is much less certain, and those who keep pursuing the topic are taking attention away from the true problem of over-development, they said in a research paper.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson refused to endorse the Prime Minister’s views and the Met Office said there was no evidence that the winter floods had been caused by man-made global warming.
The 19 scientists, from prestigious universities and institutes in Britain, the US, Japan, Australia and across Europe, said that while greenhouse gas emissions are ‘strongly linked’ to flooding, there is insufficient evidence to accurately describe the connection.
They said that until there is firm evidence about the role of climate change, it is better to concentrate on what we do know – that the way we are changing our physical landscape is making flooding worse.
Many of the authors, all respected climate change scientists, have contributed to UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. They include Professor Nigel Arnell, from Reading University’s department of meteorology, Robert Muir-Wood, a London-based consultant who advises the OECD and UN.
Scientists claim there is no firm evidence to link climate change to flooding. Much of the UK was affected by floods in December, including Cookham, Berkshire, after the River Thames burst its banks and flooded homes and gardens worth millions
The paper, published in the Hydrological Sciences Journal yesterday, says: ‘There is such a furore of concern about the linkage between greenhouse forcing [the process by which man-made greenhouse gases are said to force climate change] and floods that it causes society to lose focus on the things we already know for certain about floods and how to mitigate and adapt to them.
‘Blaming climate change for flood losses makes flood losses a global issue that appears to be out of the control of regional or national institutions.
‘The scientific community needs to emphasize that the problem of flood losses is mostly about what we do on or to the landscape and that will be the case for decades to come.’