Mopping up consequences of a determination to control

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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The continued flooding and media reports of it have taken me back to my O Level geography classes where we learnt, in no uncertain terms, that if you strip hillsides of natural vegetation it causes soil erosion, and thus water run-off becomes an issue of epic proportions.

If I learned that 30 years ago, why is it taking the government so long to catch up with the fact that stripping hillsides – paying countryside owners to do so – is causing pain and despair for some?

Planting trees has had a massive impact, as these create effective systems for water to sink underground

There have been several articles in the national press which demonstrate the geography of this far better than I can.

There are detailed examples where communities have looked to re-install porous dam systems, increase winding in rivers and allow debris to build up in order to slow flood waters on their journey.

Planting trees has had a massive impact, as these create effective systems for water to sink underground.

It’s ironic isn’t it, that we are busy telling the rest of the world not to do this, that and the other (like cut down forests) and yet we don’t appear to be able to see for ourselves that in our efforts to control nature we’re losing the system that allows us to flourish?

It’s easy to ignore this as here we are on the south coast with a few inland puddles to contend with, plus the sea (which is a different matter entirely).

But the effects of our attempts to control – instead of work with – nature are here nevertheless.

Anyone who has attempted to cross Apple Dumpling Bridge in the Alver Valley (Gosport) will know what I mean.

The bridge crosses a small river and is often under knee-high water because the river’s exit to the sea was re-routed and the man-made river mouth blocks continually with stones pushed in by the sea.

It’s dug out quite regularly, allowing the water levels to drop. But it rather proves a point, that our determination to control leaves us mopping up the consequences.

Across the very wide pond, the new Canadian prime minister is employing experts as ministers.

Perhaps it’s time that Cameron took a leaf out of that book.