On the rise

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Of course “no amount of cash” by itself could have saved Somerset or stopped the Thames bursting its banks (Perspective, 11 February) and your editorial conclusion that “the real problem [is] the weather” is hardly helpful.

We need a change of attitude based on adapting the old adage “no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes” to cover “only the wrong policies and housing locations”.

Whether they were or are right or not, global-warming scientists warned us two or three decades ago that weather patterns would become far more volatile, extreme, windy and wet.

Despite paying lip service, what have our authorities done in practical terms?

Cash devoted to better house-building designs and locations; sensible drainage and storage reservoirs; sea defences coupled with tidal power generation; dredging deeper, wider and less overgrown rivers; farmland used for more self-sufficient UK agriculture rather than house/school/hospital/commercial/road building – all these things among others could have helped to mitigate the worst of what the weather has thrown at us.

As it is, the authorities are reactive instead of proactive, and with many policies being relatively futile (wind turbines) or positively exacerbating the problem (open-arms immigration). If there is a sudden cold spell in southern England, which is presumably quite possible, the effect of all that surface water icing over hardly bears thinking about.

The Netherlands has shown the way for centuries, and while the Dutch are now adapting their previous policies to allow nature to take its course in some respects, 60 per cent of them live below sea level, with huge river systems to manage whose sources are in other countries, unlike ours, but without any of our ­devastation.

Finally, the hapless Lord Smith is taking the flak, but where on earth (or water, maybe) is the chief executive of the Environment Agency, Dr Paul Leinster, from whom we have seen and heard nothing in the past seven weeks?

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews, Fife

CLARK Cross is wrong to assert that “the world has not warmed for 16 years” (Letters, 10 February). The average global surface temperature anomaly given by the HadCRUT4 series for the last five years (2009-2013) is 0.476C. The corresponding figure for 16 years previously (1993-1997) is 0.248C – using five-year averages helps to smooth out annual variations that can be misleading.

The difference in the two five-year periods is thus 0.228C, which represents about 28 per cent of the total warming of about 0.8C experienced since the 19th century.

Roy Turnbull

Nethy Bridge

Inverness-shire