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Eco Corner February 2016

The Bible speaks of 'the Water of Life' and David Attenborough reminds us that without water, life on earth would not be possible; but few things could be more horrifying to see than water lapping over the front door sill or oozing up between the floorboards, particularly when it is contaminated with sewage.

That, however, has been the recent experience of many families in Scotland and Northern England. The experience may be unusual in this country, and limited to areas such as the Somerset Levels, but is common enough in countries with seasonal high rainfall such as the delta area of Bangladesh or the east coast of the Philippines.

Hurricanes are more common off the coasts of Mexico and Florida and Monsoons off the coast of SE Asia. The increase is attributed to global warming and weather patterns are being recognised as being much more complicated than we thought. It also looks as if in some ways we are meddling too much with nature instead of working with nature.

It is all very well to decide that something must be done, but what? It resembles the problem confronting the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Health Secretary — economies must be made — but where? In the case of weather patterns, something much more drastic than a large stock of sandbags is needed. Rivers need to be dredged, roads raised on embankments (as the railways once had to be built) and drainage channels dug. If necessary, houses need to be moved to higher ground.

A by-product of the catastrophe has been the extraordinary generosity and helpfulness shown by those not too badly affected towards those who are. It shows that the great majority of people feel themselves to be neighbours one of another, one of the main themes running through the Bible, from the Ten Commandments to the Sermon on the Mount. This is a cause for thankfulness, but it is not a reason for neglecting the action needed to prevent the distress in the first place.

Bob Weighton

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