July 2012: With the weather we’re currently experiencing, it’s interesting to read this Bloomberg article setting out that “More than 130 port cities around the world are at increasing risk from severe storm-surge flooding, damage from high storm winds, rising and warming global seas and local land subsidence. Poorly planned development often puts more people in vulnerable areas, too, increasing risk. About $3 trillion of assets are at risk today, a tally on track to reach $35 trillion by 2070, according to an ongoing study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.” Click through the slides to see the 20 port cities most vulnerable to climate extremes – which doesn’t fortunately include London.
London is however likely to face increased challenges associated with flooding – as set out in chapter 3 of the Mayor’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy which highlights that:
- Nearly 15 per cent of London lies on the former flood plains of London’s rivers”
- A significant proportion of London lies within the Thames tidal floodplain and without the protection afforded by the tidal flood defences, much of that area would flood twice a day, everyday on each high tide
- The last tidal flood in London was in 1928, when 14 people drowned in Pimlico. In 1953, London narrowly escaped damage whena tidal surge inundated large parts of Kent and Essex, killing over 300 people. This resulted in the construction of the current Thames tidal defences, an integrated system comprising the Thames Barrier, 185 miles of floodwalls, 35 major gates and over 400 minor gates.
- The Thames Barrier has been operational since 1982 and has been closed over 100 times to protect London from flooding
The Museum of London’s 2011 ‘Postcards from the Future’ exhibition imagined what London might look like as a result of a number of future stress factors, including climate change. The 14 striking images, which include wind turbines in Piccadilly Circus, a nuclear power station in Kew Gardens and palm oil cultivation in Hyde Park, can be viewed here.