Sinking, Not Swimming

I’ve been thinking a lot about the lost city of Atlantis these last few days. If the island wasn’t just a fictional creation and did exist, now somewhere miles underwater, now inhabited by a variety of sea life rather than denizens that it once used to hold, I wonder what it’s last few weeks would have been like? Did the rulers of the city prepare for (what were admittedly very sudden according to Plato’s story) the disaster that was about to happen by preventing it anyway they could? Pre-planning and making sure they would prioritise saving the people and their land first? Or did they blame each other for it happening, before then blaming people they’d employed and cut funding from and then blaming the previous rulers all the while gradually getting further underwater? I drove between Taunton and Southampton on Saturday as per my work schedule. I seem to have planned my current tour almost entirely around where increasingly bad weather warnings will be and I have a slight fear that as I set off for Leeds tomorrow there will be warnings of tornados or a giant creature rising from the sea & destroying buildings somewhere nearby. I’d seen pictures of flooding but tucked away in hilly part of London, I had no idea just how bad it was. Roads were mini swimming pools, parks and fields along the roads had become swamps and I had to double take when my satnav showed a river where there now appeared to be a sea as it’s various mouths had joined in one big wet mess. It was sad to see. Since Saturday it only seems to have got worse around the country, with rain set to continue and people losing their homes and livelihoods. I haven’t quite grasped all the infighting that has been going on between politicians. It seems that the Environmental Agency were blaming the government for a lack of funding, the government are blaming the Environmental Agency for not dealing with it properly despite the lack of funding or staff, Lord Smith would probably quite like to retire with a huge payload regardless of how many people drown, Eric Pickles doesn’t really know what he’s doing, Owen Paterson looks as though he spends ages wondering where on earth rain comes from, and David Cameron thinks it’s Labour’s fault. Quelle surprise. Overall it just strikes me as mad that they can’t put all this to one side and actually just deal with it or why time wasn’t put aside to prevent it in the first place. There have been arguments Lord Smith has previously stated that there is only enough money to save urban or rural areas. Is there? That seems odd that suddenly the very safety of the country is at bay yet some of the money that will happily go to making arms deals or boring election campaigns can’t be used to protect people. Studies have proved dredging won’t help but it seems to be the plan that the government wants to go ahead with, and many suggest reforestation would be the obvious long term solution but that’d cut into farmers’ subsidy payments. All in all, it looks petty and ridiculous with political pride and greed being most important to those in charge. I’m not going to pretend I understand much at all about drainage or flood protection but every step of the way the issue appears to be money. Which strikes me as strange. If  – and I know this is an extreme choice of situation – the whole of the UK flooded and sank money wouldn’t help. It’d just get soggy or the hard drives it’s numbers sit on would disappear. If you had too much of it in your pockets you’d just sink quicker. The government wouldn’t have to fight over what to spend because there’d be nowhere to spend it on. There wouldn’t be any land to sell to companies for use. There would be no homes to provide extortionate energy bills to. Or schools to argue over ways in which to run them, or hospitals to sell to friends. You get the picture. I know we aren’t there yet and I know we may not be in my lifetime or lifetimes to come but when the very country you are in charge of starts to be filled with water, surely petty disputes or bureaucracy should come second, or further down the list of priorities after ‘let’s stop this from happening’? This is how I feel about all decisions around whether to save the planet from global warming though. 95% of scientists on an IPCC report say it is happening and the people around the world who seem to deny it are predominantly those who have wealth in areas which are contributing to pollution. I can’t fathom why you would be so insistent on keeping your money that you’d happily let the world around you collapse to the extent you’d have nowhere to use your money or gain money from anymore anyway? Sure you could build an incredible bunker but how would that defend you against loneliness or starvation? How has anyone got to the stage of thinking they are bigger than the planet they live on? That thought frightens me far too regularly at the moment. I remember David Cameron saying in May of last year that ‘Britain faces a sink or swim moment’. Think the answer has become obvious. He was talking in terms of the global economic race, but I can’t imagine we’ll race all that quickly with wet trousers on. —————————————————————————————————————————————— I’m doing a tour of my new comedy show, which has a lot more jokes in than this angry blog. Promise. Next stop is Leeds tomorrow at Seven Arts, which could really do with a few more punters. Please come. Keith Farnan is also on. He’s brilliant and has an excellent beard. Then it’s Leicester on Sunday. All details at www.tiernandouieb.co.uk.

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