Investment in flood defences is overdue. But progress on climate resilience requires confronting vested interests too
Nothing about the climate crisis is easy. The challenge of adapting to global heating and the climate disruption it causes is particularly hard. It forces us to reckon with harms that cannot be undone and is sometimes viewed as jeopardising progress on reducing emissions, by drawing away resources and political will. After all, if we can adapt to climate chaos, why bother trying to prevent it?
Since this argument is a staple of climate deniers, such fears are well founded. But unless we are prepared to stand by as people’s lives are destroyed by extreme weather, adaptation is required. For the relief and protection that they will bring to large numbers of people living in flood-prone areas, last week’s announcements of record funding for new defences in England, along with new guidance and insurance rules, must therefore be welcomed. Disastrous floods in Belgium, Germany and China, and the horror of the North American “heat dome”, have alarmed scientists and focused minds.