Tuesday 18 February 2014

Flooding: the anatomy of failure

Before I start, I would like to point out that some of this article is made from recycled, renewable material, as some of my readers may notice.

If ever you wanted an example of how lightweight our drive-by media has become, it is the coverage of the recent flooding.  The more egregious examples come from the Mirror which squarely and predictably takes the simplistic "Tory cuts" line in furthering it's own moronic agenda.  But perhaps the biggest disappointments have been from people who really ought to know better.

Simon Jenkins is more often right than wrong, or at least not as wrong as the rest of the vessel for which he writes, but the notion that no-one is to blame for the floods seems to be a recurrent theme among those who cannot trouble themselves to take a more nuanced look at the matter.  Similarly Rob Lyons at Spiked offers a similarly lightweight article, albeit not entirely wrong. And while one could not disagree with Brendan O'Neill, this is the obvious and easy approach to the story.  Scratch the surface of the story and the link between "climate change" and the floods becomes so completely fatuous, it seems barely worth the effort to say so.  If one really wants the low-down on that, you can ask one of the nerds over at WUWT.

It is especially disappointing to see Spiked drop the ball on this one because it speaks to a number of recurrent themes on their site.  Rob Lyons's central premise is that "There's something backward about the hunt for the one thing or person who might be blamed for England's flooding.".  To me this is a lazy and incomplete assessment of the facts at hand.  There is plenty of blame to go around, but the multi-faceted issues surrounding the floods are not in isolation of each other, and they are symptoms of a disease, not the disease itself.  This is a failure of policy, and a failure of governance, and it starts in the Somerset levels, with just one simple picture.

Not rocket science is it?
From this picture, you can see that maintenance of the waterways, particularly dredging, has been completely neglected.  The question is why?  We have documented this in detail over on EUReferendum.com whereby drains, ditches and rivers have not been cleared as part of the Habitats Directive, along with other regulatory interventions governing the disposal of river silt, too complex (and dull) to go into any great detail here.

The first conclusion you may reach is that we are blaming it squarely on the EU as Ukip would have it.  Not so.  EU regulations are not plucked out of the air.  As Richard North has written at length, regulation is often written by agencies of the UN, nations states, NGO's and international committees.  The EU is merely the mechanism by which they become law and the EU is not at the top of the food chain.  In many respects, unelected, unaccountable NGO's are.

Insomuch as the environmentalist agenda is a useful tool for national governments and the EU to grab ever more powers, NGO's have a significant role to play for them, in that they are the fig-leaf of grass-roots approval.  Hence why the EU uses our money to fund Friends of the Earth and a myriad of other famous (and not so famous) NGO's.  The NGO's are not just embedded in government, but also in academia and schools.  There is good reason for that.  The children of today are the "experts" of the next generation. Spiked has repeatedly made the case that NGO's are corrupting the curriculum, and who could disagree? As a child of the eighties, we were spoonfed NGO's from an early age through BBC Comic Relief and Blue Peter, and Oxfam propaganda packs could always be found in schools.

What all these poverty concern and environmentalist NGO's share in common is that of the Leftist, Malthusian mindset, which is beautifully characterised by Brendan O'Neill in The Guardian and elsewhere.  By maintaining an iron grip on education, they have engineered an academic class of "experts" and teachers who speak to that same agenda, some knowingly, some not.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the debate surrounding the Somerset Levels.

The conventional academic view of dredging is that speeding up the flow of rivers increases the erosion of riverbanks, and causes flooding problems further downstream.  These are entirely plausible statements, and in the context of the River Severn or the Thames, they carry some water.  However, the Somerset Levels are an entirely man-made agricultural system where the normal rules of hydrology don't necessarily apply. Man-made drains require regular clearing. 

What we discovered last week was that the Environment Agency (also stuffed to the rafters with the product of our NGO ridden education system) had made the decision to deliberately surrender parts of the Levels to flooding as part of it's policy of "Water Storage" (deliberate flooding) and "Managed Retreat" (doing bugger all) for the sake of "restoring" wildlife habitats.  Now that the public, who were never consulted, are demanding action, the EA has plenty of rent-a-quote flapping mouths to wheel out onto the BBC Politics show.  We have clown car full of experts to draw upon, all singing from the same hymn book.  In this instance, the NGO influenced Janet & John Book of Hydrology, saying that dredging would have made little difference.  Exactly what the Environment Agency wants to hear.  Even the great Moonbat sticks his oar in.

I have also had the misfortune of bickering with a PhD student of Hydrology (who arrived at the same dullard conclusion as Simon Jenkins) who actually said in the comments "As a tax payer my personal opinion, based on my scientific knowledge, is that dredging would be a massive waste of my taxes and not only that, it would give floodplain residents false security."

As ever the "experts" have demonstrated an extraordinary ability to soak up information without question, but very little capacity to think and analyse. His knowledge is of generic theory, not the reality of the Somerset Levels. Eventually, the man-made rivers, if not dredged again, will choke up completely – because they are not natural watercourses. If he is saying dredging makes no difference to flooding in the Levels, then he is essentially saying the people who built the River Huntspill and the King's Sedgemoor Drain in the first place were wasting their time, and didn’t know what they were doing. As a mere layman I am accused of ignoring the experts, but it is he and his ilk who are disregarding the real experts, not I.  How we got to a state where academics lack the capacity to think is too big a discussion for the scope of this piece, and perhaps I will explore that another time.

Every aspect of our society has in some way been contaminated by the transnational NGO agenda.  At this point, I must take a slight tangent to properly contextualise this phenomenon.  The climate change religion and it's army of NGO priests has its tentacles in just about every area of policy.  Nowhere is it more obvious than in the energy market.  James Delingpole, Christopher Booker and many others, (myself included) have been banging on about the consequences of the Large Combustion Plant Directive for years, which has essentially forced an energy supply gap upon us, quite deliberately, for a number of reasons.

Insomouch as the EU wants a single European energy market and an EU wide super-grid, the driver of this is Co2 reduction.  The ethos behind deliberate shortages is to bring about emergency measures for "demand side management".  This is essentially Orwellian doublespeak for energy rationing through smart-metering, with the overall aim of reducing our carbon footprint. Deliberate shortages are part and parcel of how the EU creates a crisis in order for the EU to supply the solution.  It is what we now know as the "beneficial crisis".

This dynamic comes into play with the flooding in Oxfordshire and Windsor.  These places have flooded before, but these areas are also susceptible to droughts.  There have been submissions in 2002 and 2007 for an extra five reservoirs which got as far as planning, but again were rejected on the basis of on overall EU policy to manage demand, rather than meet supply. (ie make us all go out and buy super efficient washing machines and take communal showers). These could have been used as run off storage for flood prevention/mitigation.

Floods are nothing new but as we become a more densely populated country, our flood management strategy needs to keep up with the times, but has been hobbled by competing agendas, inter-agency bickering and an overall Malthusian EU strategy of "managed retreat". - Something that is worked into the academic curriculum, which perversely balances the needs or wildfowl with our need to eat.  By the same token, they demand we cut down our food miles and produce food locally for "food security", yet in the same breath are happy to write off huge tracts of prime farm land to the sea.

All of this stems from the belief that mankind is destroying the earth and that we have reached our peak as a species and can not be permitted to grow any further.  That is the prevailing idea of our time.  At one time we spawned engineers like Brunel who wanted to open up far reaches of the country (and the world) to the people, and to open up new markets.  Now the engineers we breed are set the task of reversing his work; to ensure we travel less, consume less of what we enjoy, and know that our place in the universe is secondary to wildfowl and badgers.

What we are looking at here is an imposition of global governance at UN and EU level, implemented by the Environment Agency, essentially a policy implementation unit of the EU, which is separate from our own government. Once the media caravan moves on, things will revert to normal, with the EA taking visible remedial action - but only within the constraints of the laws that got us here in the first place. Nothing in policy will be changed, or even up for negotiation.

The EU has assumed competence and legal supremecy over what were perfectly adequate regional authorities, who by contrast knew what they were doing, because their management techniques were tailored to the specific needs of each region, but because the real culprits will not be identified by our lightweight, superficial media, we will be back here next year as the Levels once again give way to the rains.

The individual and diverse problems that brought about these floods, are merely the symptoms of a diseased mindset, which starts in the UN and feeds through to the EU. Until we address the democracy deficit, and the lack of constitutional constraint, we will get nowhere.  What is wrong with the Environment Agency is the same thing that is wrong with every other ministry or quango; government operating to a foreign agenda without transparency, accountability or democratic consent. THAT is your culprit, and if we don't get serious about that, then everything else is just waffle.


  1. Well said Pete. I would also like to point out that the residents of Christchurch New Zealand have been presented with this concept of "managed retreat" (the exact same words, in fact) in the face of "rising sea levels", which is derived from an engineering report that admits there have been no measurable sea level changes in the last 10 years

  2. The problem is how do we get the government to understand they have been scammed by these NGO's?

    How do you explain to an environmentalists that managing the level for farmers is going to help the wildlife?

    By allowing the Somerset levels to flood have they have killed more animals than they have saved?

    1. Ultimately this is about power. That is why we need to take the power back.


  3. Excellent piece.

    The fact that the Somerset floods have been allowed to become an environmental, ecological and economic disaster because of old EU laws and the policies enacted by/advocated for the Brussels-Whitehall-Quango-NGO nexus that has replaced constitutional democracy and representative government/cabinet responsibility in this country is easily knowable. Largely due to the outstanding work of Dr North at EURef, for which he cannot be thanked enough.

    One is frustrated that other people cannot see it. There is nothing clandestine or secret about these agendas. The media schizophrenically acts as cheerleader/tries to ignore the influence of the institutions that have effectively disenfranchised the people. Then again, what else would one expect from people who have (largely) allowed themselves to become little more than court scribes and jesters? As Ernest Bevan may or may not have said of the British press: "Why bother to muzzle sheep".

    Most "political" reporting consists of informing the "masses" of what the authorities have to say. Servility is assumed and this helps to inculcate a mindset that is repelled by even the merest hint of dissent. I doubt that most journalists even know that they are doing it. "Servile? Me? No, relentless seeker telling truth to power! Have you not seen All the President's Men? That's why I got into this racket!" Yet, their reports all say: "Today the Prime Minister said that he would seek to 'reform' and 'renegotiate' Britain's relationship with the EU". It is generally considered "bad form" to point out, "and he was lying through his teeth and everyone in the hall was struggling to hold back their jeers and titters". That wouldn't be cricket, what, what, etc.

    Then one faces the fact that the "elite agendas" pursued by the UN-Brussels-Whitehall-Quango-NGO puppet masters (I exclude a compliant and complicit Westminster only because if people were really serious we do still have the power elect our own parliamentary representatives - although, that probably too hopeful in the sense that it downplays the influence of the MSM...) are broadly shared by the population at large because these are the same people who "create" the culture.

    I have been trying to read into/understand the origins of this phenomena and (to simplify to the point of caricature) I think that it can be essentially traced back to the influence of two 19th century Englishman: Charles Darwin and Thomas Malthus. Darwin because of "survival of the fittest" (a term coined by Herbert Spencer and NOT part Darwin's original theory), and Malthus because of his advocacy for population reduction based on essential resource scarcity. Both mistaken, both providing the "intellectual" underpinnings for (as far as I can determine) ALL of the reactionary anti-technology, anti-trade, anti-business, anti-human environmentalist/Leftist/collectivist/totalitarian theories today. I am not saying this explains all manifestations of elite evil, only that the ideas espoused by these two men (or corruptions of same) provide the seedbed for the current crop of weeds that "legitimise" the need for a "power elite" who must be granted the power to boss us around because they know more than the rest of us.

    How to make this clear to the "other side"? Maybe one can use their own tactics against them and point out that both of these upper-class Englishman worked for the East India Company, which was folded into what became known as the British Empire. You see! It is all the fault of anglo-British capitalist imperialists - everything Graun readers and lefties in general love to oppose, all tied up in a neat little package!

  4. Your observation:

    "How we got to a state where academics lack the capacity to think is too big a discussion for the scope of this piece, and perhaps I will explore that another time . . ."

    is at the core of the problem.

    People have not been educated to think but rather to obey and be 'socially mutual'.
    We are, indeed, in deep trouble as these people rule the system and their lack of common sense precludes wisdom and intelligence.
    The main thing that gets one to a position of influence in any field, political, media, academia, whatever is power-thirst and the ability to manipulate others. Addressing reality comes second, sometimes not at all.
    I must concede, however, that the power seekers have done a very intelligent and competent job of keeping their opposition in disarray.

    1. Science has evelvolved into a tiered hierarchy whereby the postulations of the upper tiers are passed down presented and taught as facts to the lower eschelons. If one wishes to remain as a scientist within the discipline one has to work within these constraints. It's a brave soul that goes off message to where the real progress is to be made. Historically no progress has ever been made in any area by upholding the consensus but it is risky, prove your point against overwhelming odds or pay the mortgage.
      Great piece Mr North.

    2. 'Historically no progress has ever been made in any area by upholding the consensus but it is risky, prove your point against overwhelming odds or pay the mortgage.' Fantastic comment. Sums it up. Legitimate problems with the theory of evolution (and I'm, not talking about creationist nonsense) are silenced by this mechanism, as are any other phenomena (e.g.psi), which threaten the prevailing materialist paradigm. Science as a whole is being held back on a number of fronts by these forces. And philosophy is now another species of sheep.

    3. Pete this is a great piece and I would just like to add that the day of the settle science academic who can't think for themselves is numbered. The Political class from the Prince of Wales downwards have a fawning attitude towards experts that borders on the obsessive. Most normal people are sceptical of “experts” for the simple reason they are nearly always wrong. This scepticism earns us the title of “headless chickens” or swivel eyed loons”. You note that we are never challenged with a well-crafted argument, only name calling.

      But science is about to go through some shock treatment. Certain well held theories and Laws are wrong; perhaps the most obvious are the Laws of Gravity. Currently it is accepted science that Gravity is as a result of mass, but this only works on the surface of the earth. Too many inconsistencies are now known to exist that Gravity must be something else. And as we move to galactic scales we see settled science inventing dark matter and dark energy to make the maths work. A classic human case of we don’t believe what we see so we will event something that explains it. There is every reason to believe that the red shift when measuring light from distant objects may not be consistent. Certain Quasars that appear to be at the same distance from us exhibit vastly different redshifts in their light. This calls into question expansion and the big bang. Black holes are another bit of mathematical theory with no observational support. If we look at earth the only explanation for the large size of the dinosaurs is that gravity has changed. This leads to the expanding earth theory, and on it goes.

      Since WWII science has been funded by government to prove things. Science has made very few discoveries of late that fundamentally change our world. I believe that is about to change but what single factor of fact kicks this off I don’t know. Settled science has supported the “beneficial crisis” but this will dissolve if shown to be wrong. This is why the debunking of climate science has been so important. It will encourage others in all manner of science disciplines to be forthcoming with “inconvenient data”. It’s important for the way we are governed that each new crop of Politians that comes to power understand that there is no such thing as settled science so they are not tempted to follow the “experts” Once Politians understand this they will readily dispense with the NGO scourge.