Water can be an incredibly disruptive force, affecting day to day lives, ruining homes and causing untold destruction of crops and livestock across the globe.
In the UK
Here in the UK water can have a devastating power also. In the spring, heavy and continued rainfall in Wales triggers a swelling of rivers at their sources. Further down stream this can cause problems as the increasing volume of water coupled with the accumulation of sediment causes the river to burst its banks. In 2000 the City of Worcester suffered the worst floods since 1947 with the river Severn rising 5.8m above its normal level costing millions of pounds of damage.
Around the Globe
Abroad, flooding can be a much greater humanitarian crisis as it can ruin crops for an entire year, causing mass dependency on aid and relief efforts. One of the biggest areas affected in this way was Bangladesh, which is a very low lying country and a massive proportion of it was underwater.
Why is it becoming a bigger problem
The cost of flood damage insurance is expected to rise by 20 times its current value in the next 80 years. There are several reasons for the increasing flood risks. Most are due to urbanisation. In built up areas such as towns and cities rain water hits the ground as is not absorbed into the ground as in rural areas but runs into drains which feed straight into rivers greatly increasing the volume of water. Deforestation and the removal of hedgerows have meant a dramatic decrease in the number of plants absorbing water. Subsequently the majority of ground water runs into rivers. Even littering and pollution problems have contributed to the swelling of rivers as large volumes of sediment and litter makes the river bed shallower displacing the water.
Another, far greater and far more worrying cause of flooding is Global Warming. It is now widely accepted that Global Warming is causing the polar ice caps to melt. This will lead to rising sea levels. A problem that will affect the whole world and could be irreversible. Low lying areas such as Bangladesh and Florida could be entirely submerged.