It Takes a Flood looks at weather extremes

Tuesday:It Takes a Flood: (ITV, 9pm)

Brits have always been a little bit obsessed with the weather, often as a way to break the ice or as smalltalk.

When we watch reports of extreme events on the news or internet, they’re usually from places that are a very long way from home.

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They make us pause for a moment, perhaps ‘tut’ at the havoc and devastation wrought by Mother Nature, and then we go about our daily lives.

On the cliff edge from his home in Hemsby in Norfolk Lance Martin looks out to sea

But this year, it was the UK that was hit by flash floods. In July, some areas of London experienced more than three inches of rain in 90 minutes. The sewer systems were quickly overwhelmed and in Notting Hill flood waters rose by 1.5 feet in less than five minutes, while several tube stations were closed.

That was just in the capital. The weather front that brought the downpours had previously caused severe flooding across western Europe, killing 184 people in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “shocked by the catastrophe that so many people in the flood areas have to endure”.

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The flooding followed unprecedented heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Europe, and once again sparked the debate about whether climate change was responsible and if so, to what extent.

The scientific community has been sounding warnings about an anticipated increase in the intensity and ferocity of extreme weather events as a result of climate change, including heavy rainfall, driven by an increase in the atmosphere’s temperature that allows it to absorb more water vapour, resulting in more precipitation.

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Others said the jet stream could become increasingly erratic because of climate change, leading to more frequent extreme weather phenomena.

None of it is good and more of it is happening on our doorstep.

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As all eyes turn to Glasgow and the crucial Cop26 summit, where some of the world’s leaders are set to grasp the climate crisis nettle, this landmark film, directed by Kevin Macdonald and airing as part of Climate Action Week, goes into the heart of the increasingly ferocious floods that have hit the UK in recent years.

It takes a closer look at events in London, which, as previously mentioned, was battered by historic levels of rain this summer and includes footage of horrified home-owners who watch as flood water comes pouring up through toilets, as well as visceral video capturing the moment flood water rampages through a historic town. The snippet shows that although flood defences can help, they can’t hold back the water forever.

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As the challenges of flooding mount, the film profiles Ravi Singh, who runs an international disaster relief charity, which draws no distinction between a flood in Bangladesh and one in Hebden Bridge, and is a powerful beacon of hope. As he helps traumatised flood victims, his message that we become resilient by helping each other shines through.

Kevin Macdonald said: ‘With more extreme weather coming our way as a result of climate change, we believe it’s vital to understand the impact of flooding here and now in the UK, at such a crucial juncture for the world.”

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Suddenly, talking about the weather really doesn’t seem very small any more.

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