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The Floods in Germany and beyond ... a first hand account

DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 72,837
edited 17 July in The potting shed
I have a long-standing German friend living in Wuppertal which is in the area of western Germany where the floods are happening.  She and I are on a food/cookery forum ... she posted this the other day and has given me permission to re-post it here as I thought some of you might be interested in the situation in her region.  Fortunately she and her partner are ok ... their apartment block is high enough up a hill to be unaffected by the floods themselves, but of course the infrastructure problems will affect everyone ... 

"... Still drizzling, but yes, we are OK.
..... we may be victims of our own success.
To be fair, our flood defenses in this area are actually quite extensive.This region has loads of reservoirs, producing drinking water for the Ruhr and part of the Rhineland.
The river Wupper is nothing to write home about, here it is about two feet deep on average. It does have a history of flooding, but they really installed a good system of large and small reservoir upstream that normally works excellently.

But as I said, the Bergisch Land and the Sauerland produce drinking water for millions - and we had severe and unusual droughts in the last years. The reservoirs did cope just about and in spring they were worried about filling them again for the next hot summer - and this year obliged with a cool, wet spring. They must have been really pleased, everything fillled up again and ready, should the summer turn hot and dry again.

I guess this is why they were not that quick to drain the reservoirs beforehand. And the ever-continuing thinning of the workforce will also play its part.

This is what happened in Hagen and Wuppertal.

The regions further south are notoriously prone to flooding, what with water from as far aways as the Alps, South Germany, France and Belgium feeding the rivers. What with modern agriculture, a "not in my backyard"-culture and the traditionally dense building on the banks of the Rhine, Moselle and the Ahr things become almost unmanageable. All these rivers were "streamlined" in the 19th and 20th century and the newly reclaimed areas were gratefully taken up and used.
The farmers and vintners and the people who live on this land will not be able to simply give it all up and move away.

All in all it is a mix of global warming, more droughts and then massive rains that ail us.

This weather system did not just hit Germany, half of Western Europe seems to be affected ...." 

Today she said "... The thing is, no one wants to sacrifice anything, so nothing is done. In the countryside we would need more hedges, ditches and ponds to conserve, but also to delay water. Works both in droughts and floodings.

People are fighting tooth and nail against wind turbines ...  (her partner's) boat is moored about 600 meters away from five or six of them. I like the look of them and the noise, even if the wind is coming from their direction is less than the road noise here..."


This reminds me so much of the attitude of many people in the UK  ...  we must take note and learn rapidly from the experience of others ... but it is probably too late ...........
“I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







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  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 4,092
    It's a very sad situation. It's a failing of neoliberalism that when bold collective action is needed, we become mired in squabbling about the effect on individuals or businesses with little hope of dealing with the big-picture issues in time. 
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 5,570
    I can understand your friend being upset, but pointing the finger at the UK is totally inaccurate.  In 2020 the UK was 3rd on the list of European wind power producers behind only Germany and Spain.  The UK has 3 times the population density of Spain and 20% greater than Germany so there is likely to be more resistance to wind farms.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 72,837
    edited 17 July
    KT53 said:
    I can understand your friend being upset, but pointing the finger at the UK is totally inaccurate.  In 2020 the UK was 3rd on the list of European wind power producers behind only Germany and Spain.  The UK has 3 times the population density of Spain and 20% greater than Germany so there is likely to be more resistance to wind farms.

    @KT53 ....where has my friend pointed the finger at the UK?  :o

    The only mention of the UK is mine ... and I'm referring to Nimbyism in general, not specifically regarding wind farms.  A farmer I know is having difficulty getting permission to have a solar panel park on a field which cannot be seen from any house or any road ... what's that about?
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,277
    We are getting a lot of solar around here it's hideous hectare after hectare covered up and then fenced in, where are the deer meant to graze? the land they use is the poor farmland so it was swampy and floods in winter, now it is all covered with pannels and no wildlife is allowed anywhere near it. some is grazed by sheep, but sheep are rare here and there isn't much market for them, other fields are just weedkilled once a year to keep the grass down. Wind turbines are slightly better, but not much they are very VERY noisy and the lights on them are very bright yes the road is noisier when a lorry goes past, but the windmills never stop it's a low pitched thump thump thump everytime the blades go past the stalk. (technical term) Oh and these turbines I am talking about? They are 3 miles away! Every property close to them has to be bought by the state as they are considered unsafe to live close to. Fortunately their very presence stops other turbines being built here as no one is allowed a new one within 5 miles.
    I believe that solar panels on farmland or greenland in general should be banned. They take away land form nature and turn it into a greenish desert, at least a turbine only has a small footprint and only murders a handfull of birds and bats every year.
    this "park" is 55 hectares 135 acres (or 77 football fields)
    And what makes this even better? we get 4.5hrs of light in December per day and the panels shade eachother for much of that as the sun is so low.  I can also tell you that last year they spent at least a week in march under snow. This is a very good example of greenwashing and subsidies not anything that's actually going to benefit anyone other than shareholders anywhere.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 72,837
    edited 17 July
    Skandi it sounds as if the area you’re speaking of is unsuitable for a solar park. The area I’m speaking of is a arable land which will be put to grass and native plants so therefore no longer ploughed annually so will also contribute to carbon capture … it will be managed to support small mammals and ground nesting birds and provide food for seed-eating birds that they used to get from field margins etc before herbicides became prevalent. The local wildlife trust is supporting it … but some folk seem to think it’s a get rich quick scheme by nefarious farmers 🙄 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,808
    edited 17 July
    I'm sorry for your friend, @Dovefromabove. It's a shocking death toll - 150 people at least in a 1st world country where homes are sturdily built and people expect to feel safe. It's so sad. How much worse would it have been had that weather system hit a less developed nation?

    What I find most depressing is the political reaction to the floods and to the wild fires and heat waves in North America - we must do more to address climate change. Well, yes, but the horse that caused this year's weather was bolting out of its stable decades ago. We could stop emitting carbon tomorrow and these things would keep happening for years to come. We have to do more to address climate change because if we don't, the next generation will be facing these events more and more often, but it won't stop them happening to us - it's too late for that, at least 30 years too late. And then there's the deeper anger that politicians only even think about it when it's 'us' that are being hammered by the weather. There are whole populations being affected out of our line of sight who have been calling for action for all those 30 years. 

    Now we have to adapt. We have to face up to what we've done and try to find ways for people to live with it. AND stop making it worse. So that's expensive and politicians waver when they aren't actually in the middle of a crisis. They have such short memories, don't they? Of course, the price is going to keep going up; the longer we wait, the higher the cost, in every sense.

    But will we act? Next article on the news is the travel industry moaning that not enough people are flying away on their holidays and they want government subsidy to stay in business. Anyone want to lay a bet where the investment goes in the next few years? Helping people who are living on flood plains to adapt or move? Or helping British Airways to stay in business?
    “There is no military solution
    Doesn't always end up as something worse”
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 72,837
    My point exactly @raisingirl
    … but you explain it much better and with more information than I. 


    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,808
    The best place for solar panels is on the roofs of buildings, really. Solar farms are certainly needed, but they do have impacts - around here the objections tend to be to the massive security fencing rather than the actual panels. But you're right, plenty of people do just shout 'no' without thinking 'if not here then where?' And if your answer to that is "nowhere", then what? We need solar panels, we need wind farms, we need hydro power. We need to stop thinking there's an answer which won't have any impact on our lifestyles, our family finances, our view.

    If you won't accept solar panels, will you live with a wind turbine instead? If you don't want a wind turbine on the horizon are you thinking they can stick them out to sea? Will you then write letters to protest at the harm to sea birds? If you don't want off-shore turbines, will you accept a nuclear power station down the road? No? Fine. Rolling black outs and huge price hikes for power here we come. Oh right, don't want that either? That brings us back to heat waves and flooding then. More and more often, more and more severe. 

    There isn't an option where nothing changes. Something has to
    “There is no military solution
    Doesn't always end up as something worse”
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 72,837
    You’re right @raisingirl … the place I’m talking about is just up the coast from Sizewell A, B and now C … the objectors are some of the folk who objected to those so what do they want?  Candle power and rushlights?  Washing the laundry in a dolly tub? 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • steveTusteveTu Posts: 1,495
    My daughter moved into a new build last year - not a solar panel on it (and still with a gas boiler installed). Why isn't every suitable new house having solar panels fitted? Tesla's (other brands may be available) solar tiles look interesting - it'll be grand when they (or similar) become commercially viable and part of a standard install.

    UK - South Coast Retirement Campus (East)
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