British prime minister David Cameron has sparked outrage by blaming Britain’s flood crisis on global warming while admitting defences are not fit for purpose.
Cameron said more frequent ‘extreme weather events’ driven by climate change were the main driver behind the floods in Cumbria and the north of the country.
Experts blame the massive cuts in flood defence budgets for the disaster and point to historic flooding which pre-dates ‘global warming’.
Climatologists say although the floods are devastating, they have nothing to do with global warming but are in fact part of a natural weather cycle.
They have branded Camerons comments as “ludicrous excuses”.
The Express reports: They (Climatologists) say heavy and persistent rain not only in the UK but across the world has been bolstered by an especially strong El Nino this year.
The phenomenon – on course to be the strongest on record – is triggered by wind changes in the Pacific Ocean leading to a build up of warm water around the coast of Peru.
It has catastrophic impacts on the world’s weather including heavy rain and floods in America and South America and warmer than average temperature across Asia.
Although its effects are still under discussion, it is thought increased atmospheric moisture may be responsible for heavy rain over Europe.
Mr Cameron spoke as he paid a visit to the northern city of York, currently devastated by weeks of heavy rain.
He said: “What has happened – the level of the rivers, plus the level of rainfall – has created an unprecedented effect and so some very serious flooding.
“We do seem to face more of these extreme weather events and problems of floods.
“People are told that things that are one in 50, or one in 100, or one in 200 years, they seem to be happening more often.
“So what we should be doing is continuing with the very high level of investment in flood defences.
“The flood barriers have made a difference, both the permanent ones and the temporary ones, but it’s clear in some cases they’ve been over-topped, they’ve been over-run and so of course we should look again about whether there is more we can do.”
Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Forum, slammed the Prime Minister for shrouding the real problem of poor flood defences with excuses.
He said: “Flooding has happened through the centuries, though uncommon, what we are seeing is nothing new.
“The most likely explanation is that the current El Nino has thrown more moisture into the air as sea waters have evaporated over the Pacific.
“This has nothing to do with climate change but is a natural phenomenon which was happening a long time before climate change took over the agenda.
“This is just an excuse for the failure of a number of governments to address the reality that Cumbria and flood prone regions face.”
Although Britain has been hit by extreme rainfall over the past few weeks, floods have ravaged UK shores for centuries – before climate change was named.
The North Sea flood of 1953 is long held as one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in British history.
Around 30,000 people were forced from their homes and more than 300 people lost their lives as water swept down the east coast.
In 1864 the Great Sheffield Flood claimed 270 lives and in 1928 heavy rain and melting snow doubled the amount of water in the Thames overflowing into London.
Lynmouth, Devon, was devastated by floods in 1952 which toppled buildings and led to the deaths of 34 people.
In 1998 Easter floods crippled the Midlands with the Rivers Avon, Ouse and Nene bursting their banks during heavy downpours.
More than 4,000 homes were destroyed while power supplies were lost leaving a clean-up bill of £350 million.
Even further back in history Britain has battled floods with a catalogue of weather-related disasters spanning the last five centuries.
In 1607 Wales and the southwest was all but washed away after the January Bristol floods which some attribute to a huge storm surge or tsunami.
The Great Storm of 1703 saw central and southern England clobbered by strong wind and rain which people at the time blamed on the wrath of God for the sins of the nation.
Most recently the town of Boscastle, in Devon, was ravaged by torrents of swirling floodwater after heavy rain in August 2004.
Dr Peiser said the answer is to spend more on flood prevention drawing examples with Europe where investment in defences has prevented a similar crisis.
“You only have to look at Holland, which is much more prone to flooding but they have sorted it out,” he added.
“They have protected their country and their communities.
“The Prime Minister is right that the UK flood crisis is man-made, in that people haven’t taken this seriously enough.
“The Government needs to spend money on protecting people from floods, not blaming climate change.
“This is nothing to do with climate change, it is simply an excuse.”