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    ‘Worst ever’ floods in South Asia

    by Sunny on 6th August, 2007 at 8:37 am    

    I should have posted this before.

    Aid agencies estimate that over 21 million people are being affected by the floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, described by the UN as “worst in living memory”. So far around 240 people have died in the Indian sub-continent.

    This comes on top of the deaths of over 700 people in China, also from flooding, which affected 200 million. They still have on-going environmental problems.

    BBC Online has a good summary of the current situation in South Asia, with a breakdown of worst-hit areas here.

    Save The Children and British Red Cross have launched an appeal. Drishtipat also has a flood appeal page for Bangladesh.

    All this flash-flooding and bizarre weather has absolutely nothing to do with climate change. Those who warn about the environmental impact of climate change are like religious nutters don’t you know.

      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: South Asia

    16 Comments below   |  

    1. Rumbold — on 6th August, 2007 at 9:43 am  

      What a terrible situation these people find themselves in. Losing their homes, no sanitations, probably no savings, and no way to work to earn money. The sheer scale of the floods is staggering.

      South Asia has been battered by extreme rains for centuries. The reason why more people are affected this time is that the population is larger.

      Example of a logical fallacy:

      The floods were caused by something.
      Climate change is something.
      The floods were caused by climate change.

      1174: What a thread. Leon taught the Duc, Douglas Clark and I how to italicise and colour quotations. Happy days.

    2. Bleh — on 6th August, 2007 at 9:48 am  

      Well, respective of people’s views on AGW*, the fact remains that you cannot link individual weather events to a particular climate trend, especially given the fact that climate is defined as long-term averaging of weather (and people who link specific events with total certainty are just revealing themselves to be politically-motivated ignorami). In any case, lets hope that the disruption and damage to the subcontinent is as minimal as possible and that people get back on their feet as soon as they can.

      * I personally take the John Christy view on these matters: It is scientifically inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, turning millions of acres into irrigated farmland, putting massive quantities of soot and dust into the air, and putting extra greenhouse gases into the air, that the natural course of climate has not changed in some way. That is not to say that the Al-Gore/Stern report school of “we’re all doomed, I tell ye, doomed I tell ye!” is anything other than alarmist bollocks.

    3. anon — on 6th August, 2007 at 10:10 am  

      Floods are as we know also normal in monsoon time in this part of the world. But experts say the impact continues to grow worse year by year, due to a number of factors - water management policies in country and region and maybe result of increased population pressures leading to more settlement on less suitable hilly land and on floodplains.

    4. Leon — on 6th August, 2007 at 10:14 am  

      What a thread. Leon taught the Duc, Douglas Clark and I how to italicise and colour quotations. Happy days.

      *looks back fondly on those times, wipes tear from eye*

    5. Vikrant — on 6th August, 2007 at 11:28 am  

      Ya well, given the lousy enforcement of evironmental policies and building regulalations AND heavy deforestation, I’m not surprised. In my ancestral town Alibaug in Maharashtra, Raddison hotels have setup a huge spa (http://www.asiatraveltips.com/news06/32-Radisson.shtml). The construction is on an illegally reclaimed river-bed. The spa opened this June, this July the town was 2 metres in water!

    6. El Cid — on 6th August, 2007 at 12:56 pm  

      “worst in living memory”

      Sorry to be a stickler, but are they both accurate quotes?

    7. Riz — on 6th August, 2007 at 1:51 pm  

      A few weeks ago the Beeb had blanket coverage of the floods in the UK with journalists reporting on every centimeter change in the water level. I haven’t watched the news in a while, but where is the coverage of this much wider flooding disaster? It’s not only much greater in terms of the number of people affected, but each person affected in these floods will likely face longer term consequences due to the lack of a insurance coverage, which essentially boils down to low incomes per capita in the regions affected. I know it’s interesting to see sofa’s and DVD recorders floating down roads, and to watch news of the latest piece on information on the search for Madeline, but the news is severely lacking decent international coverage. I continue to stick with C4 (for breadth) and Newsnight (for depth and for laughs), and have quit watching BBC News 24.

    8. The Common Humanist — on 6th August, 2007 at 1:54 pm  

      Right, no aid till those affected learn how to manage their populations, watershed forests and soil horizons.

      Tough love time.

      Ok, only joking but hopefully events like this should concentrate minds on the impacts of high population growth and environmental degradation.

      At some point in the next 20/30 years someone in power is going to use my first point for real.

      Take Darfur - the real cause is access to water and grazing land, this manifests as Arab Muslim nomad vs African Muslim sedentary farmer but if they could both access water for their growing populations of people and livestock then there would be no conflict (OK, less conflict as I am sure the Wahabist nutters in Khartoum could find a way to kill black people somehow, just probably on a less pronounced scale….cyncial, me?)

      So mandantory contraception for the Developing World it is then……..!

    9. Soso — on 6th August, 2007 at 4:14 pm  

      Sunny, is this really the time to score points for the global warming crowd on the backs of flood victims?

      “Living memory” is a diaphenous term that can neither be measured nor quantified. For some, memory can be quite short. It is not, thus, any sort of science-based criteria. It is, though, emotional in its tone.

      Just 2 or 3 decades ago such flooding would’ve hardly been reported, and with a shortage ( or complete absence) of satellite link-ups, we wouldn’t have had images tugging at our heart-strings.

      Our increasing awareness, due to an abundance of images and data, of just how capricious and devastating nature can be isn’t necessarily “proof” of climate change.

      One other thing, population pressures are forcing people to inhabit lands…low-lying flood plains/river vallys…that people only a few decades ago would have passed over.

      The American equivalent of this would be the perceived rise in the frequency of destructive tornados.

      More and more people inhabit the swamps and wetlands of the sunbelt, and cities built in Tornado Alley have grown exponentially. What were once empty lands are now covered with housing developments.

      The more humans you have, the greater the number of tornados observed.

      And the more housing built, the greater the *destructiveness* of these windstorms.

      And you really sold me by posting that Time cover!

    10. douglas clark — on 7th August, 2007 at 6:30 am  


      I used to be interested in railways. There are pictures of old steam trains pushing snow plows over Shap Summit from the ’50’s and maybe even ’60’s. When I last went there, about ten years ago or so, there had been no snow like that since then. So, on a microscopic scale, highlands of Cumbria, something had happened.

      Equally, we went to look at a ‘working watermill’ in East Lothian. Except, it didn’t work ’cause there wasn’t enough water. I doubt our ancestors of a couple of hundred years ago were quite so daft as to build a watermill where there was doubt about the water. Apparently it had run fine up until about thirty years ago.

      None of that is conclusive, the fact that I haven’t been snowed in, in the sense of huge transport issues, for the last ten years or so, is just another straw in the wind.

      But I do think it is legitimate to point to the evidence, ’cause local is global, for those that live it.

      Ski resorts closing down for lack of snow…..

    11. Kismet Hardy — on 7th August, 2007 at 11:57 am  

      When I grew up in Bangladesh, high up in the ivory tower of our tea estate, it was common to accept that people in the neighbourhood would just perish every time the kalbaishaki storms brought on the raging floods. That’s my living memory, but my grandfather has a similar memory and his grandfather before that.

      It floods a lot in Bangladesh. Something to do with India refusing to build dams to stop the Himalayan flow, or so my bangladeshi geography teacher would weepingly tell us

      I hope the ’set your washing machine to 30 and save the planet’ brigade don’t decide to turn this regular tragedy as some sort of ‘ha told you’ up-yours by global warming doom mongers

    12. sonia — on 7th August, 2007 at 4:55 pm  

      given areas like bangladesh are effectively the delta, when the ice melts way up in the himalayas and the rivers wind their way down to empty into the bay of bengal, if there is more water, then of course we are going to be fucked. and yes cutting down forests along the way adds to the problem, and the reason why people are dying is because we haven’t got our act together re: clean water which is a function of our poverty and disorganisation. it sucks.

      but goes to show we can expect more of this when more ice melts up in the himalayas.

      anyway, i wouldn’t get so smug about population control, it might not be long before the thames barrier isn’t in such great shape, and london gets flooded..

    13. Tahir — on 7th August, 2007 at 6:23 pm  

      water management by India would go a long way in sorting out the some of the problems in Bangladesh and Nepal on the flooding side.

      India’s policies on regional water is the cause of alot of the troubles, this seems to be what Water Aid people are saying .

      But tend to agree that climate change is alarmist language - floods in the summer are as old as the rivers in Bangladesh probably.

    14. Sunny — on 7th August, 2007 at 7:37 pm  

      Example of a logical fallacy:

      Did I say there was direct causation? Can anyone show how there isn’t indirect causation?

    15. Sunny — on 7th August, 2007 at 11:43 pm  


    16. John M — on 8th August, 2007 at 1:08 pm  

      “Did I say there was direct causation? Can anyone show how there isn’t indirect causation?”

      No. but can you prove that there isn’t ‘indirect’ causation between the floods and any other event/ Anything at all? Of course not.

      If extreme weather events can be taken as proof of the truth of the climate change zealots’ claims, why cannot normal weather events be taken as proof of the opposite? It’s the salience bias again. The news does not report things like ‘October has been one of the most average months in temperature and rainfall terms for the last 100 years’. If they did, nd I came on here nd said ’see, it’s proof that there is no global warming’, you would rightly tell me not to be such an a-scientific idiot.

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