Sunday, 9 February 2014


"Solidarity"... it might be a dirty word, but it's the basis of the Dutch culture and character. When you reclaim a whole country from the sea, as they did in the Netherlands, it also becomes an essential part of the national character. It's also the basis of Dutch democracy. In fact one of the most important elements in Dutch democracy is a part that has long been abolished elsewhere in the world and is even in danger of being abolished in the Netherlands. Wikipedia calls them in English "Water boards". The Dutch call them "Waterschappen". It's something that is being reinvented in Somerset right now. (See the UvW)

There was little room for feudalism in the Dutch political model. Everyone had to pull together to create the land and then maintain it and protect it. The crisis in England now seems to be provoking the strangest of responses. Some Eurosceptics blame Brussels. "It must be the fault of Brussels. They don't want us to protect our land." This is almost as ridiculous as the claims that chem-trails and cloud seeding have caused the floods.
But in areas that are frequently threatened by water, it's essential that drainage, maintenance and democracy come together. Government and community have to work closely to protect the land. Things do go wrong, as they did in 1953 in eastern England and the southern Netherlands. There were thousands of deaths when a storm surge combined with spring tide flooded vast areas of East Anglia and Zeeland.
Things haven't quite got that far in Somerset, but it's clear that there is an urgent need for changes in the way water management works in England. The problem of flooding is one that will increase if we do not ensure good land management.
There are other examples of this problem. London has faced increasing problems with flash flooding. As we've all read, this has a lot to do with the urge to convert gardens to concrete driveways. Water can't soak into the ground and gets diverted into the drains, which cannot cope. Similarly all major rivers have floodplains as brief stores for rainwater to allow drainage systems to catch up. The Somerset Levels are such a facility and have always been there and have regularly flooded in the past - if only for a few days. But this time things really went wrong. Areas like the Levels are intended to store water briefly, but they should then be drained. This time the drainage system failed. That's something which must never happen again and which needs some kind of democratic local organisation such as a "water board" to ensure that the necessary dredging is done.
So blaming Brussels or chem-trails and cloud seeding for the problem is just abusing this crisis for political ends. It's sad to see such suffering and disaster used as a political pawn in the game by Eurosceptics and quacks.

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