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Government in Britain has become more about the illusion of control matched by the increasing abdication of general responsibility for the well-being of the country.
Yet climate change is now accelerating this process. The barrier will have to be replaced by something much more substantial by 2030. Yet it is the Thames Gateway, aka the floodplain that will be increasingly inundated by these changes, that is currently the last best hope of building the vast number of houses needed to cope with population growth.
It's not going to happen, is it? What will happen is that homes will be built, a new barrier will also be built, and even if - and it's the proverbially huge if - the two are coordinated so that new homes are protected, the barrier will fail sooner than expected.
I expect London to be permanently underwater by 2050 at the latest, and very possibly subject to at least one serious and very damaging Katrina-style flooding event before 2030.
The Thames is not the only threat. The kind of rain that feel on Yorkshire and Gloucestershire this year would have overwhelmed London as easily it did the other areas. The difference is that with a much higher population density and much less robust transport links you have a much bigger potential disaster.
There's already talk of building houses on stilts. Which is an idiotic solution unless people are going to be expected to launch and navigate boats, in order to get to and from work and to buy essentials.
When an idea like that is being discussed seriously, the situation is already desperate. But Whitehall is working on the assumption of business-as-usual, and is barely even thinking about the effects of climate change on the South East.
Not just stilts, but even more bizarre ideas.
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