Climate change continues to increase its ominous effect around the globe. Weather patterns are (by their nature) unstable and our forecasts will always carry a level of uncertainty and therefore risk. As the temperature of the Earth’s climate continues to rise we are seeing a clear trend towards the extremes of weather around the globe. When any system becomes volatile (i.e. subject to extreme) if we want to manage outcomes then we have to drive back to stable and more predicable state. If we fail to pay attention and take immediate corrective action then we face the consequences of losing our ability to predict and all hope of managing outcomes.
The month began with massive rainfall in the North of England; The intensity was such that Whaley Bridge and other surrounding villages were at risk of major flooding with a serious threat to life. The Toddbrook Reservoir had exceeded capacity and was over-spilling. The sheer force of the overflow cut into fractures in the outer skin of the ageing Victorian structure. Once the water got under concrete skin the situation quickly went critical as chunks of concrete were ripped out by the fast-flowing water which tore into the supporting material that formed the bulk of the supporting wall. The dam was at risk of collapsing within hours. Emergency and military services were mobilised and a local evacuation took place. At the same time an array of high-powered pumps were deployed to extract water from the dam and re-route the overflow in an attempt to exceed (or at least match) the rate of inflowing water from surrounding hills. Thankfully the torrential rain-storm diverted slightly and subsided and at the critical moment and the plan worked. It took a few days reduce the water level sufficiently for emergency repairs to be undertaken to the dam. Chinook helicopters, capable of carrying over 10 tones, dropped three hundred bags of ballast into the huge hole that the water had dugout. Work is still underway rebuilding the outer skin and making it safe.
It seems that the climate change clock is ticking. Time is running out.
During the G7 summit this month there were some shocking news headlines of epic fires a raging in the Amazon Rainforest, which is regarded by many to serve as the ‘lungs of our planet’. Factual media coverage on the causes, scale, impact and resolutions seemed disproportionately small this month, media coverage favouring soundbite reporting on the personalities and political posturing of the G7 attendance and in particular a farcical contest between the French and Brazilian presidents (Macron and Bolsonaro), with theses national leaders posturing as the macho guy in charge and calling the shots. This super-massive forest producing 20% of the oxygen for the Earth’s atmosphere, continues to go up flames. Are we taking this seriously.?
This is the first school summer holiday when we haven’t gone away somewhere with the children, mainly because I’ve just started this new contract and needed to crack on with it. The landing of the contract was timely, having spent 3 months out, although then downside has been working through the summer. Sonja had two weeks booked off and I took couple of long weekends and we arranged days trips out, covered on an interstitial post called ‘Staycation 2019’
After many years of periodic headline news items about declines in business and redundancies, the Harland and Wolff shipyard finally ceased trading this month. One of Britain’s most famous shipyards, at it’s peak the yard employed a workforce of 30,000. The Titanic was build there. Now the shipyard is history, a sign of the downturn in heavy engineering and economic change in the UK.
Prime Minster Johnson flew to Germany to meet with Chancellor Merkel earlier in the month. He then travelled across to France to meet with President Macron. Brexit was reported as the main discussion point, bit it is not clear what Johnson was aiming to achieve from the visits, there were no outcomes reported. Was this another couple of a wasted opportunities or is Johnson being really smart and not disclosing his hand? In his rhetoric he seems to have hardened his line on the Northern Ireland Backstop.
At the end of the month (28th Aug) Boris Johnson met the Queen at Buckingham Palace to formally requested Her Majesty’s permission to prorogue Parliament from early September to 14th October. The Speaker of the House (John Bercow) referred to it as a ‘constitutional outrage’ as the Queen was put on the spot and it was clear for all to see how little power the British Monarch actually has. Proroguing Parliament effectively means suspending democracy for a period, preventing MPs from debating parliamentary business and halting any legislation process through Parliament.
It is quite normal to prorogue for a few days in the run up to Party Conferences each year. However, Johnson has gone for an unprecedented 5 week shut-down at this most critical time, now widely expected to be an historic turning point for the UK. Prorogation is to start almost immediately and will finish just 2 weeks before the UK is due to Brexit. This is extreme. This does not feel right to me. This is just one of the exaggerated measures now being employed to regain control.
By stymying all further debate and discussion that may otherwise challenge the decisions that are being made in Parliament, Johnson and his cohort may now be achieving what previously seemed impossible and forcing the political tide to turn.
Meanwhile, the majority of level-headed citizens in this country (and within Parliament) remain divided. This lack of cohesion reduces it’s influence from the centre-ground and encourages extremists to push the country towards a more volatile political and economic future. Does this sound reminiscent to the rise of fascism in the 30’s? Certainly, the effect of unchallenged decisions from our more extreme leadership may now be amplified for the UK and lead to a change the political landscape. This will have both domestic and international impact.
The Conservatives also appear to be preparing for a snap General Election and the view across most media channels is they are in a strong (if not favourable) position win against a divided labour party under the Corbyn leadership. The Conservatives could well win by enough to regain a working majority and seize control in the Commons, enabling them to force the pace and take the UK out of Europe, deal or no deal. Our European partners appear to have reached a level of intransigence with the UK and it seems increasingly likely that we will now crash out of Europe with no deal sooner or later.
While Brexit supporters have welcomed the move to Prorogue Parliament, it has caused outrage across the country with mass demonstrations in many towns and cities. If/when the UK crashes out, then the current European intransigence will be replaced by irritation at the increased cost and disruption to all economies.
If and when the UK crashes out, the risks and impact have been clearly articulated in a leaked Government document called ‘Operation Yellow Hammer’ which sets out contingency actions to keep the UK working as best as we can. The UK will undoubtedly suffer the biggest negative economic impact, affecting Brexiteers and Remainers alike. Citizens of the UK will all be poorer and most of us will immediately notice shortages, restricted access to (and inflated prices for) commodities, products and services.
What I really don’t understand is, if you or I were buying a house and it turns out to be a really bad deal (for example, the house might have dry-rot and subsidence or it turns-out to be expected to fall into the sea in the next 5 years or something) such that we realise we will be significantly worse-off buying the property, then we would pull-out of the deal (as would any-one in their right mind).
So why don’t we at least double check that it is still ‘the will of the people’ to leave the EU with the deal on the table (or crash-out with no deal)? ………. Why can’t we see that ‘the people’ are now sooooo much better informed than they were at the time of the referendum?