John Knight's August 2019 Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express.

11 August 2019

Two weeks ago, torrential rain left much of the Macclesfield area under water.  Although, as far as we know, no-one was seriously injured, homes and businesses in Poynton, Adlington, Bollington, Prestbury and Hurdsfield were inundated; the damage could take weeks and months to repair and woe betide anyone who wasn’t adequately insured.  The brand-new A555 was partly underwater (as campaigners had long warned about), as was the A34 Alderley Edge bypass.  Over the hill, Whaley Bridge residents had to be evacuated for five days, while the Toddbrook Reservoir threatened to unleash 300 million gallons of water on the town, as heavy rain caused serious damage (incidentally, seven years after British Waterways, the public body responsible for its maintenance, was abolished).

While it is impossible to pin particular weather incidents down to climate change, it is a fact that “extreme” weather events are becoming commonplace.  The last 21 years have witnessed the ten hottest years on record, while the ten coldest years all fell before 1930.  The International Panel on Climate Change  (IPCC) only last week warned that efforts to curb greenhouse gas-emissions and the impacts of global warming will fall significantly short without drastic changes in global land use, agriculture and human diets.

We cannot continue with “business as usual”.  Cheshire East Council must urgently reconsider their major road-building programme - combating climate change means making fewer car journeys, not more.  Serious efforts must be made to develop geothermal energy at Leighton, as part of a massive move away from burning fossil fuels.  Globally, shifting agricultural production away from livestock could not only help reduce global warming and improve human health, but also free up land for managed rewilding, which can greatly reduce the risk of flooding downstream, as well as going some way to restoring a richer, biodiverse natural environment.