The debate about climate change is distracting us from the true causes of flooding, a group of eminent scientists warned yesterday.
Concreting over flood plains, cutting down trees and expanding cities is making flooding much worse – and we need to act on that knowledge, they said.
The exact link between global warming and flooding is much less certain, and those who keep pursuing the topic are taking attention away from the true problem of over-development, they said in a research paper.
David Cameron ignited a row at the height of the recent UK floods by proclaiming that he ‘very much’ suspected the devastation had been caused by climate change.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson refused to endorse the Prime Minister’s views and the Met Office said there was no evidence that the winter floods had been caused by man-made global warming.
The 19 scientists, from prestigious universities and institutes in Britain, the US, Japan, Australia and across Europe, said that while greenhouse gas emissions are ‘strongly linked’ to flooding, there is insufficient evidence to accurately describe the connection.
They said that until there is firm evidence about the role of climate change, it is better to concentrate on what we do know – that the way we are changing our physical landscape is making flooding worse.