I want to start by saying that I feel bad for anyone who loses their house, cabin or cottage due to flooding, fire or any other natural or human made disaster. I know it can be heart wrenching.
We spend billions fighting the disasters and rebuilding afterwards, but not enough in preventing them in the first place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say.
A few years ago, I had a reporter ask me what a watershed was. I was a little shocked and surprised that they didn’t know and when I tried to explain it to them, it was obvious that they knew almost nothing about the natural environment, even though they had a university degree. So how is it that so many people, even those with university degrees, know so little about the planet and environmental sciences?
I think everyone is to blame for this basic lack of education and understanding of the world. The schools obviously aren’t doing a good job of teaching basic science, the government doesn’t do a good job of explaining it and those involved in the sciences aren’t doing enough outreach to the general public.
Plus, we have a bunch of special interest groups, including some politicians, who dramatically and irresponsibly distort things to really confuse the issues. Also, many people are looking for someone or something to blame, rather than trying to understand the problems and get at their root causes.
I also hate that politicians and news people use a lot of self-serving propaganda and throw terms and buzz words around as if they mean something. You can symbolically fight climate change all you want, but it is going to have little or no impact on flooding, wildfires, storms, droughts, landslides, volcanic eruptions or human effects on the environment.
My current pet peeve is the way people are throwing around the term “hundred-year flood” and saying things like, “Oh my God, we have had two hundred-year floods in three years. That proves climate change is real and we are all doomed unless we tax carbon and then tax the carbon tax with the GST tax.”
To start with, the term hundred-year flood does not mean it is a flood that only occurs once every hundred years, regardless of what the name may imply. It is a hypothetical concept that I assume some hydrologist playing around with math invented. The theory is that by looking at 30 plus years of flow data, one can predict statistically that a flood of a certain magnitude has a one per cent chance of occurring in any given year. Only a whole lot of time will tell if this theory has any validity.
I certainly question its validity, but then I am more into the earth sciences where we would take a series of sedimentary core samples from across a river valley and try to figure out the pattern of past floods in the area. Then by factoring in the changes to runoff in the watershed area, we’d try to predict the pattern of future flooding. Both methods obviously have their limitations.
Neither approach is completely accurate, but they are attempts to understand the way things work. The real problem is no one has told mother nature that she must behave in a certain way or else. She pretty much does what she wants, and I am sure she is laughing at all the wankers talking about “The Hundred Year Flood” as if that means something. It doesn’t.
Flood plains exist for a reason and if you build on them and don’t want to get flooded, build a house that floats. Also, if you build a dyke around a floodplain in one area, you’re making the flooding worse downstream. One person’s gain, becomes another person’s loss. Something to remember. Everything humans do has an affect on the environment.