Thursday, 1 December 2011

Rest and be Thankful, but not about Climate Change

At seven o'clock this morning around 100 tonnes of debris fell on to the A83 near the Rest and be Thankful in Argyll.  The alternative route is between 30 and 50 miles longer depending on how much you need to double back at either end.  Similar landslips have happened on the A83 before but only recently, in 2007, 2009 and now in 2011, all preceded by periods of prolonged heavy rain.

Following the 2009 landslides, plans were put in place to install monitoring points on the hillside to detect movements which may be the precursor of future land slides.  Fences were also erected with the aim of preventing debris from further up the slope reaching the road. I don't know if the advanced warning system worked but it is clear that the fences did not.

It is very difficult to scientifically link the increasing number of land slips here to climate change, however considering the unusually high rainfall preceded all events and higher rainfall that can be expected in our local climate due to warming oceans it is difficult to dismiss any link.  The cost of the contingency measures put in place in 2009 was put at £760,000 and does not include the immediate repair costs of each land slip, nor does it include the cost to residents and businesses of longer journeys.  This may not be a large sum of money compared with the amount squandered elsewhere but if the frequency continues of this type of event continues to increase then it will become much more significant.

This is not an isolated case, other major roads, such as the A7 in Dumfries and Galloway in 2008, and railways, such as the Glasgow to Oban liine last year, have been affected.

We are not in Bangladesh or the Maldives, the Horn of Africa or Tuvalu, this is in the UK and we are feeling the effects of climate change and paying the price. We can afford to pay and we must pay, not only to withstand the effects of climate change but also to decarbonise and stop causing climate change.

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