Flash floods have drenched residential and commercial areas of London. Hospitals have had to be evacuated because of severe water inundation caused by adverse weather conditions. The recent incidents of extreme storms and flash floods fireshadows our mounting mounting environmental crisis. Developed nations are not immune to the symptoms of climate change and global warming. The threats that severe weather pose to infrastructure, businesses and homes in cities also demonstrates how urgent the problem has become- climate change is no longer a fringe issue.

In the united states alone, heavy precipitation events have been increasing on average since the 1900s. However, the IPCC estimates that the impact of global warming and anthropogenic climate shifts are expected to worsen on a global scale. In London, the response to flash floods has entailed evacuations, cancelled operations (at Newham Hospital and Whipps Cross Hospital) closed tube stations, and restricted road-ways. Transport delays have disrupted traffic flows along major roads in central London.

truck on shoulder of the road
restricted traffic

The Response to Floods and Extreme Weather

The London Fire Brigade made a statement on Twitter disclosing that they responded to something like 1,000 calls from people requiring rescue from their cars and or homes that were abruptly submerged in water from heavy rainfall.

The Environment Agency is responsible for responding to the risks associated with floods in London. It seems that the Environment Agency’s plans include working with water companies to make UK cities less vulnerable to flooding. This will require improving water drainage across to fortify the gutter and drainage system’s capacity to carry heavy water. London’s government is reportedly constructing a large scale tunnel that should be capable of storing and passing high volumes of rainwater. The tunnel will be known as the Thames Tideway and is expected to be finished in the year 2023.

However, the fact of the matter is, prevention will be the best form of action for limiting severe weather events in the future. Otherwise, endless funding will have to be poured into flood risk management. What does prevention look like in this case? Prevention involves limiting environmental impacts caused by humans that eventuate global warming in the first place. As Earth’s average temperatures increase, the intensity and frequency of heavy precipitation is expected to increase in certain areas. The regions with the largest increases in heavy precipitation events (for 1.5- 2 degrees Celsius of global warming compared to that of preindustrial levels) are the high latitude regions of Alaska, western Canada, eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, northern Europe and northern Asia, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s SR15 Chapter 3 report.

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