The face of our planet is changing all the time, and if we’re honest, those changes aren’t always for the better. As global warming gains momentum, our lives become increasingly uncertain. And, while many of us turn away from the effects our actions have on the planet, some of the results are hard to ignore. For example, no one could argue the point that our planet has been heating up for the last three years in a row. And that doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.
Another thing no one can deny is how unpredictable our weather has become. Whether it’s snow in May, as seen in the UK last year, or freak storms as seen across the world, things have taken a definite turn for the worst. And, these issues have more of an impact on our lives than many of us are comfortable with. One excellent example of this is that of flooding. Many of us have been washed up in recent years. For proof, you only have to take a look at the news. As sea levels rise, and rainfall increases, flooding has become a huge issue across the world. In 2014, for example, the UK spent much of January and February underwater after freak storms. In the US, rising sea levels have seen flooding more than double in coastal towns.
The trouble is, many people still fail to see the connection with these floods and a warming planet. With figures like Trump turning away from important environmental efforts, this attitude doesn’t look set to improve. But, a look at how much rainfall we get now compared to 50 years ago should be all it takes to prove the point. But, why does a warming planet mean more rain? Aside from rising sea levels affecting coastal towns, it’s often difficult to see the connection. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Far from it.
Warmer air creates more moisture, especially when meeting with cold air. Think about when you boil a kettle. The steam from the spout meets with colder air as it pours out, and creates moisture. Hence why hot drinks have condensation around their rims. And, the earth is no different, but the scale is much larger. As such, we experience heavy, and prolonged rain, unlike anything we’ve seen before. And, if nothing changes, things look set to get worse. Scientists expect the intensity of rainfall to increase more than 40% by the end of the century.
But, what does all this mean for you? Sure, flooding has increased, but is that so bad? In short; yes. It’s not bad for just one reason, either. The main issue is, of course, environmental. While a flood ten years ago would have cleared fast, more extreme flooding is sticking around for longer. Going back to the UK in 2014, it took around two months for things to get back to normal. That’s a problem. And, if things are set to worsen, how long before a constant flood sets in?
And, there’s the mental damage flooding can do. In extreme cases, it can ruin homes and displace families for extended periods. This can have a significant impact on happiness and well-being.
And, if that wasn’t enough, there’s the financial implications to consider. Cleaning up floods costs money. There’s the clear up, and the costs to provide emergency accommodation for residents. It soon adds up. A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed that flooding and other weather related issues cost the US $1 billion dollars in 2015. How large do you think that figure is now?
So, what does the future look like? At the moment, not good. But, there’s no reason things can’t improve. Paris’ climate agreement is a fantastic step, even without the support of the US. But, that’s not all it takes. Each one of us has a responsibility to cut down on emissions and play our part.
It may also be time for more consideration about where we build our houses. Floodplains, more than ever before, should be kept clear. The good news is, we can recognize risk areas using systems such as HEC-RAS, which determines flood risks and water patterns. Perhaps it’s past time this sort of study became obligatory for property developers.
Other than that, all we can do is prepare. Many would argue that new building regulations should include flood protection. Options like concreting floors and more sturdy home materials have been suggested as the best ways forward.