The road to Cancún

Climate change forces us to recognise that we live in an indivisible world. Recycling, reuse of materials and developing green technologies all make sense because the planet’s resources are limited and diminishing and we need to reduce our carbon footprint. 

Are we doing enough though to create that inclusive world that recognises the needs of all, rich and poor alike? Recently retired UN climate negotiator Yvo de Boer thinks not. In an interview (24 November 2010) with the Guardian’s John Vidal, he argues that slow progress has been made with climate change negotiations because developing countries are suspicious that rich countries use the issue as a way of keeping them poor and are not sufficiently committed to green growth economies.

The follow-up international conference on climate change is to be held in Cancún, Mexico next week and already there’s a mood that the high hopes of last December’s Copenhagen conference have to be replaced with more modest objectives if anything is to be achieved.

In The Economist’s lead article this week “How to live with climate change”, there is the sobering conclusion that climate change ” . . . remains the craziest experiment mankind has ever conducted. Maybe in the long run it will be brought under control. For the foreseeable future, though . . . the human race must live with the problem as best it can.”  

Cumbria counts flood costs

IMG_3410 Just four days after my last blog on the rebuilding of the Little Braithwaite bridge, the County Council has released figures which show the costs of repairing the damage done in Cumbria by the floods last November have amounted to £276 million. According to a report in the Guardian (19 November 2010), insurance companies have received a staggering 25,000 claims for losses resulting from the disaster.

IMG_3415 The Guardian’s Martin Wainwright in a companion article states that there are now plans to return to the pre-Victorian ways in order to limit flood damage. The River Derwent and others will be allowed to meander through the fields to provide a larger flood plain and fellside ‘grips’ will be blocked. These are channels, which ironically were cut through wet lands in the 1960s to make them more usable for farming!

IMG_3387 Fortunately The Larches is on higher ground and was only marginally affected by the floods last year. As the picture opposite shows the gulley by the garden gate could not take the volume of water cascading down the Ravine and we had to place a barrier just above the drainage point to divert the water and stop it backing up into the side path.

In the light of the floods in Cornwall this last week, let’s hope that the cuts the Government has proposed for flood control measures are now restored before further hardship and damage affects people living in areas vulnerable to flooding.

Bridge wrong-foots blog!

P1010471 It’s always good to come clean when you get a story wrong! I predicted in April in my After the November floods blog, that a lack of money would make it likely that we would have to wait til 2011 before the old humped back bridge at Little Braithwaite would be rebuilt.

I was down there in mid September however when there were JCB diggers in the adjoining fields and two new bridge support walls on either side of the beck. (See photo above) But none of this prepared me for this week’s scene!

Along the narrow lane beyond the farm, a long line of vans, lorries, huts and a large ‘Danger’ sign indicated that serious work was underway. (See photos below) Just how much was made clear to me by the site manager.

P1010687 Three hundred cubic meters of rock – weighing a total of some 600 tons – had been sunk into the banks to support the two ends of the bridge. There’ll be no longer a weight restriction on this route!

The new bridge, pre-fabricated in five separate sections in Northern Ireland, was brought across on large transporters. The main outstanding job is to complete the slate facing of the sides. The bridge will open, weather permitting, by the end of November – just one year after the old one was swept away by the 2009 floods. It’s good news if you want to get to the Cat Bells area or visit the Swinside pub on the other side.

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Here comes winter

P1010664 And in the Lake District it’s early too – before we are even half way through the month! This week snow has blocked Kirkstone Pass for traffic and there’ve been flurries of snow-flakes in Keswick. Temperatures last night at The Larches were below freezing, but it was during the day that I realised that autumn was definitely on the way out.

Driving from Ambleside yesterday there was a biting cold wind, which was underscored by two fighter planes 100 feet above me that screeched straight lines down the road as I descended from Dunmail Raise. The photo above shows the approach to Helvellyn from Thirlspot, with the higher reaches covered in snow.

Today it has been sunny but the cold remains. The photo below, taken from Thornthwaite shows just how much snow has fallen on the central range from Clough Head to Helvellyn and Dollywagon Pike.