How much muddled thinking is it possible to include in a single newspaper article? Or, more to the point, in a single article in the Guardian/Observer.

People can’t sleep’: Rhondda valley flood leaves climate fear in its wakei

In February last year, Storm Dennis wreaked havoc in the Rhondda valley, causing flooding in hundreds of homes and businesses, leaving landslips, ruined roads, smashed bridges and broken hearts in its wake….

There was a time, before the storm, when it would have been easy to find climate emergency deniers in this area. They are fewer now. The people of the Rhondda have had first-hand experience of the crisis.

Two immediate observations. First, as is now the norm, note the trotting out of the D word – deniers. Secondly a flooding event is not, of itself “first-hand experience of the [climate] crisis.”

Next we get this:

In the nearby village of Pentre, where 159 homes flooded, Lian Roderick, who had to endure flooding followed by lockdown in a damp terrace house with two teenage children, said the authorities in charge of clearing drains and culverts were directly to blame.

Well, there you are then – failure by the authorities to clear drains and culverts: directly to blame, no less. But then what do they quote Lian as saying next?

But I do worry about climate change. We had the flooding and it’s been so hot this year. Now this week it’s been raining heavily again. It’s crazy.”

Flooding in winter because of blocked drains and culverts, a week or two of summer heat and now some more heavy rain. Climate chaos!

Well, what’s to be done? Not keeping drains and culverts clean apparently. Oh no. The people of the Rhondda Valley have a far better idea, at least according to the Guardian:

Activists are doing their bit – a repair cafe, river litter picks, seed swaps.

Well, I’m not against repair cafes, river litter picks or seed swaps. In fact I’m happy to commend them. But I very much doubt that they’ll see off climate change. Anything else?

Pontypridd town council has declared a climate emergency.

Hmm, I’m still not convinced that any climate change still lurking after the activities of the repair cafe, litter picks and seed swaps will be seen off by that declaration. But fear not, there’s more:

On a practical level, Davies said the council was thinking of investing in electric vehicles, improving allotments, looking at investing in solar tiles. She admits progress is slow. “But we are taking steps. The mindset has to be, is everything we are doing sustainable?

Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) council has produced a climate change strategy and aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.

On a practical level? They must have changed the definition of practical in my Oxford English Dictionary since last time I looked.

When the council asked what they could do to combat climate change, hundreds sent in suggestions including better bus routes, solutions to the problem of parking bikes, and setting up electric vehicle charging points on terraces, creating “final mile” delivery schemes using electric vehicles.

Lewis said there were massive challenges. “A decade of austerity has made it very difficult for us,” he said. But he said the council was committed to act. “We face challenging times ahead. Now is the time for us all to talk, and more importantly to act.”

Yes, acting now would be a good idea.

Whenever it rains heavily now I get countless messages from people saying, is it going to flood again. People can’t sleep at night, they are traumatised. Nobody feels reassured.”

Well they won’t, will they, if you don’t keep the drains and culverts clear.



  1. Having just poked fun at the comical climate change reporting in the Guardian/Observer, here’s evidence that they can still sometimes write a serious and sensible article:

    “Britain needs big ideas for big problems, but its leaders don’t appear to have any”

    It’s just a pity they had to get the Assistant Editor of the Spectator to write it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In that piece for The Guardian Isabel Hardman points to exactly the same article by Steve Baker in The Sun that I was about to highlight, in my first Cliscep article for a while. In May 2021. “The ‘Net Zero’ boiler ban will leave Britain’s poorest out in the cold” indeed. Telling.


  3. Not at all Mark. There were other articles, not least a more recent one from the Mirror, about Boris caving. But clicking that link from Hardman did cause me goosebumps. Baker is very bad news for Boris. Very bad.


  4. That’s all right, then. 🙂

    Steve Baker is one to watch, I think. Net zero could split the Tories. As you know, I’m no Tory, but we do need a major political party to at least ask difficult questions about net zero, and preferably to ditch it. Labour isn’t going to do that any time soon. And while I don’t count the Lib Dems or the Greens as major parties, neither are they. And although the SDP are sensible on the subject, sadly they don’t seem to have funds, backers, or any interest from the media, so they certainly aren’t even a middling party, never mind a major one. I guess that just leaves the Tories, and quite a few of their backbenchers (and I suspect a lot of the party faithful) are very unhappy at the direction of travel.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Another typo in the Guardian URL. Showing how much they care by spelling Rhondda wrong.

    It has come to something when people genuinely seem to believe that inconsequential acts displaying the correct virtue are actually in some way going to make the weather gods more benign. (Although removing all the crap stuck in the culverts may well help – photovoltaic tiles certainly won’t.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “It has come to something when people genuinely seem to believe that inconsequential acts displaying the correct virtue are actually in some way going to make the weather gods more benign.”

    Virtue-signalling membership (of the culture of climate-catastrophism) has been the whole point since a minor scientific worry escaped into the public domain over 30 years ago. Whether a president or PM promising policy that defies reality and sense, or a prophet child demanding that we all panic, or ordinary citizens showing their virtue by indeed inconsequential acts, or endless media articles proselytising that the coming catastrophe will affect everything from prostitution to gender to the size of fish to war and crime and fashion and anti-bacterial resistance and skiing and everything else imaginable, even before we are all roasted, toasted fried and grilled, this has only ever been about signalling membership of the catastrophe club, being part of its virtuous circle. They key part of your sentence is ‘genuinely seem to believe’. Indeed so, they are (in the main and notwithstanding some bad apples and aligned agendas) not mendacious or suffering from mental deficiency or engaged in some monstrous global hoax, they are merely captured into a cultural belief that bypasses rationality. Such is not a flaw, but a feature of all humanity.


  7. Like

  8. More delusional thinking:

    “Climate crisis: what can I do from the UK to help save the planet?
    From joining local groups to pushing for change on a larger scale, there are ways for individuals in the UK to make an impact”

    “The World Wildlife Foundation recommends lobbying your office to switch to a renewable energy firm for heating and electricity….

    …Some companies have switched to only vegetarian options in the canteen or at events, and others have tried to reduce packaging as much as possible…

    …Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also run local volunteer groups….”

    If one starts from the questionable assumption that there is a climate crisis, the brutally succinct answer is that there is nothing any individual can do about it, whether individually or collectively with others. On the other hand, individuals might be able to achieve quite a lot in terms of adaptation that will make a huge difference in coping with sever weather events. Keeping drains and culverts clear is a good start when it comes to flooding.


  9. Wandering round Cockermouth this morning, I noticed that the leaves are coming off the trees (after all, it’s autumn), and many of the culverts and drain grilles are completely blocked. If we get heavy rain, there could be flooding. Of course, if that happens, it won’t be because the Council couldn’t be bothered to have a plan to deal with autumn leaves, it’ll be climate change wot dun it.


  10. On the COP26 Open Thread last night, Stew Green drew attention to the fact that floods such as the 2019 flooding of Fishlake in South Yorkshire are still being pushed on the radio as firm evidence that the climate has already changed to an extent that cannot be ignored. Extreme weather event attribution is indeed an area in which a lot of propaganda effort has been expended lately. I just wish they wouldn’t waste their time pushing Fishlake as a prime example for their cause – history just isn’t on their side.

    The fact is that Fishlake was doing fine until the Dutchman Cornilius Vermuydin was paid by Charles I to drain the Isle of Axholme to create Hatfield Chase for his hunting benefit. Unfortunately, the required adjustments to waterways and drainage has resulted in Fishlake having nothing but trouble from flooding ever since. For those interested in such things, an excellent history of Fishlake’s pre-climate-change flooding can be found here:

    As someone who was brought up in nearby Thorne, I found the whole article to be most interesting, but I think the most telling statement comes at the end. After commenting upon the various acts and omissions leading to the 2019 flooding, the article states:

    “Ironically this is a similar situation to what happened almost 400 years earlier when drainage improvements in the adjacent parishes (as described above) caused devastation to Fishlake village and its inhabitants.”

    Somethings never change.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sorry, got my history slightly wrong there. Hatfield Chase was already a hunting ground before the drainage work, and to be fair to Charles I he also wanted to widen the usage for the benefit of the locals.


  12. “Good citizen award? No thanks, young climate campaigners tell Welsh council
    Young Friends of the Earth group in flood-hit Pontypridd accuse borough council of ‘sitting in the flames’”

    Accusations of “sitting in the flames” represent a slightly strange metaphor for people complaining about floods. Still, they’re probably right to turn down the award – maybe they would have earned it if they’d cleaned out a few blocked culverts to help prevent the next round of floods, instead of just protesting..


  13. “UK towns and cities hit by flash flooding 51 times since 2007
    Flooding in past 14 years has caused major disruption to schools, hospitals and care homes, analysis finds”

    “Flooding over the past 14 years has caused major disruption to towns and cities, schools, hospitals and care homes, a study reveals.

    The analysis shows towns and cities have been hit by flash flooding 51 times. Fifteen hospitals and 68 schools have also suffered from rising flood waters, which have caused major disruption to patients and to children.

    The analysis, carried out by the Conservative-leaning thinktank Bright Blue, says that with increased flooding due to the climate emergency, the government must do more to improve the resilience of communities, businesses, and other infrastructure.”

    You wouldn’t normally expect the Guardian to quote approvingly from “a Conservative-leaning thinktank”, but if it fits the agenda, then hell, why not?

    “Using a form of artificial intelligence called Natural Language Processing (NLP), the data was collected by analysing archives of thousands of local, regional and national newspapers.”


    “Particular areas of concern are:

    Urban drainage: heavy rainfall puts drainage and sewerage infrastructure under strain, even exceeding their limits, and contributing to flooding in some cases.
    Hospitals: at least 15 experienced flooding causing disruption or imminent risk of disruption to patient services or hospital support services,
    Schools: a least 68 schools have suffered sufficient water entering buildings to disrupt lessons, or school transport; 22 suffered at least significant damage and seven severe damage and
    Care homes: nine care homes and four retirement complexes have been flooded. Major disruptions to social care included carers unable to reach elderly people in rural areas; loss of power, hot water and heating in care homes.”

    “The report called for the government to support and fund an ongoing programme of research to identify and monitor risks associated with extreme rainfall in urban areas. It also said government should conduct a civil resilience exercise for an extreme rainfall event in a major UK urban area, incorporating significant infrastructure failure.

    Ryan Shorthouse, the chief executive of Bright Blue, said: “Flooding is one of the most serious climate-related challenges that this country is facing and will continue to face as the climate changes further in the coming years.

    “The impact of flooding is already being felt deeply in communities across the UK. The UK government can and must do much more to better improve the resilience of local communities, businesses, public services, and critical infrastructure to flooding.””

    The two obvious measures don’t seem to be included in the report or list of recommendations – namely a duty on Councils to keep drains and culverts clear and unblocked; and an amendment to the Planning legislation to ensure that flood plains aren’t built on.


  14. “Criccieth: Hail, thunderstorms bring north Wales floods”

    “Homes in north Wales have been hit by floods after hail and thunderstorms struck.

    Police said the high street in Criccieth, Gwynedd, and surrounding areas were affected.

    Firefighters said they were helping to divert water in the town as drains were blocked and roads closed.”

    Drains were blocked, eh? No doubt the thunderstorms were severe, but if councils kept drains clear, I believe this sort of flooding would happen less. At least nobody has blamed climate change – yet.



    Neath east councillor Dan Thomas claimed a culvert was the cause and that not enough “priority” had been given to street maintenance.

    “Reports from highway and drainage said there was lots of debris washed down from the valleys blocking the culvert,” he said.


  16. “Climate change: Ministers lack urgency on flood risks, critics say”

    Welsh ministers have been accused of lacking urgency on flood risks due to climate change, after postponing planning rule changes twice.

    The policy, based on the latest advice, was due to come into force next month, but the minister said that was no longer “achievable”.

    Opposition parties and environmental campaigners have expressed concern at the delay.

    The Welsh government said it was important to “get it right”.

    Ministers want to update the planning rules, known as TAN 15, to reflect the risk of flooding and ensure future development considers the potential impact of climate change.

    The new policy will require developers and councils to consult maps produced by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) that show projected as well as current risk levels.

    The government had intended to introduce the new rules on 1 December 2021, but a week beforehand they were postponed after councils raised concerns.

    I’m not convinced as to the wisdom of factoring unknowable climate change into any proposals, but two simple changes could save householders a lot of anguish:

    1. A requirement that Councils refuse planning applications to build houses on flood plains and areas at known risk of flooding;

    2. An absolute legal requirement on Councils to keep drains and culverts clear of debris. This would require the use of diaries to remind then when it’s autumn and when leaves are likely to be falling, as well as being proactive when it’s unusually windy and/or stormy. Currently this basic level of common sense seems to be beyond a lot of them.


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