Après le déluge: how might we live with flooding?

Trees on flooded meadows by  Massmo Relsig

Trees on flooded meadows by Massmo Relsig


Poster for Dr Hadrian Cook

Poster for Dr Hadrian Cook

The January talk will be given by Dr Hadrian Cook who lives in Salisbury and teaches Sustainable Development at Kingston University. He has a background in earth sciences and hydrology, and interests in catchment management and environmental history.

January 2014 saw dreadful flooding across much of England, and not for the first time in recent years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change considers that increased frequency and (probably) magnitude of high flows resulting mostly from human induced climate change means that we have to live with increased flood risk. Politically and socially, flooding is a most devisive problem and there is no ready ‘technical fix’.

Addressing flood problems requires an inter-disciplinary approach requiring the expertise of natural scientists, engineers and social scientists. Particularly important are environmental politics and economics. Should agricultural land be flooded to save towns? Who pays for flood defences? At what point should we stop defending the coast? How might community level decision making be linked with national policy? What role do watermeadows and floodplains play and what are the benefits of relaxing flood protection measures? Difficult decisions have to be made when it is dry and not panicked reactions during serious flooding.