The frequency of extreme weather events has increased dramatically over the past decade. Chronic drought, scorching heat, sudden flooding fed by rising sea levels and violent storms are wreaking havoc with rich and poor nations alike. In some cases, this reality forces governments into action, and in others, it begs overwhelming questions.
According to the head of Britain’s Environmental Agency, the question in the UK is which areas it’ll work to save, and which it’ll abandon to the wind. Because apparently, it can’t afford to save everyone.
In an article for The Telegraph, Lord Smith of Finsbury says the UK must make “difficult choices” about which areas it wants to defend from extreme weather events like the recent flooding in Somerset because “there is no bottomless purse.”
Finsbury went on to explain that while flooding is a problem for certain rural areas, and thanks to climate change will likely worsen in the future, it doesn’t exactly threaten millions of lives. The homes and livelihoods of the farmers who’ve lived there for generations, sure, but only a couple dozen. And with limited funds available for preventing and cleaning-up such disasters, the government has to set priorities.
“Flood defences cost money; and how much should the taxpayer be prepared to spend on different places, communities and livelihoods — in Somerset, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, or East Anglia? There’s no bottomless purse of money, and we need to make difficult but sensible choices about where and what we try to protect,” he elaborated in the Telegraph.
Of course, this has some Brits outraged, particularly those residing in areas that could be “surrendered” to the elements.
“This past January was England’s wettest winter month in almost 250 years. Thousands of people in the UK have been flooded out of their homes and businesses and even more rain is expected,” writes Care2 Member Evie Vee on a new petition to the EU Parliament.
“At a time when many throughout England are highly vulnerable to flooding, Lord Chris Smith, the chairman of the Environment Agency, has said that the government only has enough funds to save farmlands OR town but not both. This is outrageous: The UK government must protect all of its citizens and see that they are compensated.”
The petition hopes to pressure the EU into using its emergency fund to compensate all flood, landslide and coastal erosion victims, whether they live in the city or the suburbs.
If you agree with Evie Vee, please add your name to the petition below.
Image via imaginedhorizons