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     The news coming out of the countries of the former Yugoslavia is truly heart rending. An area of the world so recently torn by civil strife is now coping with flooding from unprecedented rains. From the BBC (video and pictures):

Serbia and Bosnia have called for international help to rescue people from inundated areas after the worst flooding since modern records began.

Waters are now beginning to recede, but officials say dangers remain.

They say that the threat of landslides is an ever-present problem as are the difficulties caused by unexploded landmines in Bosnia and river surges.

Serbia's main power plant is still at risk of flooding. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes.

Bosnian Refugee Minister Adil Osmanovic described the flooding as "catastrophic".

          From Scientific American:
"The consequences ... are terrifying," Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija told a news conference. "The physical destruction is not less than the destruction caused by the war."

Lagumdzija said more than 100,000 houses and other buildings in Bosnia were no longer fit to use and that over a million people had been cut off from clean water supplies.

"During the war, many people lost everything," he said. "Today, again they have nothing."

         And it may not be over soon. New Scientist warns more rain may be on the way.
The region has suffered its worst deluge since 1894, with more than 10 centimetres falling on 14 and 15 May. The UK Met Office says a slow-moving area of low pressure prolonged the downpour.

The bad weather has now moved away east, so the Met Office says the rest of this week should be dry. But the longer range forecast "shows the potential for further heavy rainfall next week".

emphasis added

         Unfortunately, this is getting to be a familiar story: historic amounts of rain in a short time, overwhelming infrastructure built for a world that no longer exists. It's the flip side of the coin to areas of the world not getting the rain they used to expect. I wrote up a diary not too long ago, Wet enough for ya? Just wait. Here's a relevant excerpt:

       Climate change denialistas, among their arguments, often claim that trying to do anything about it is too expensive. Well, the costs are real and so is the death toll - and it's not getting better.
Flooding is an often underrated hazard when it comes to severe weather, Bunting noted. [Bill Bunting is operations chief at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.] It causes more property damage in the United States than any other weather-related event.

On average, flooding leads to 89 deaths and $8.3 billion in damage annually, and a large number of those deaths come from people driving into floodwaters. The National Weather Service has a marketing campaign called "Turn Around, Don't Drown" that aims to teach people about the risks of driving into floodwaters.

emphasis added
      We are moving into a new world. One of the consequences of Global Warming is that warmer air can hold more moisture, so where it rains, it can rain harder. Sometimes a lot harder. The Balkans are just the latest region to experience huge amounts of rain in a short time.

      One of the trends around the planet is more and more people moving into cities, and cities are usually associated with water in some form. More people means more development, more paving that tends to take rain and concentrate it into drainage systems, which are increasingly overwhelmed when a weather event occurs. An increasing urban population means less land to soak up rain, and more people and property at risk when the waters rise.

      One of the challenges countries face is to build the infrastructure they need to support economic activity and provide for the needs of their citizens - and the additional challenge is to keep it in good repair and updated as necessary. Planners think in terms of so much storm drainage, expected floodplains for expected precipitation, escape routes, disaster plans, rescue efforts, etc. etc..

     One of the things we're realizing now is the assumptions that planning has been done on are increasingly no longer valid. The rate of change is speeding up. Events like the Balkans are going through may be the new normal. We are going to have to rebuild a lot of stuff anyway, just in the normal course of affairs. And even if government doesn't want to act on Climate Change, at least one part of the private sector is going to have something to say about that. (h/t to VL Baker.)

      If we're smart (and not everyone chooses to be - h/t to FishOutOfWater), we will be thinking ahead.

...“When I mentioned climate change to one official,” he said, “she almost hit me.” He characterized some of the wishful thinking he believed he would be dealing with as: “Don’t hire a Dutchman — believe in angels.”

Dutch battles against water led his [Dutchman Henk Ovink] country to develop a communal society. To this day, Water Boards, which date to the Middle Ages, are a feature of every region, and they guide long-term infrastructural planning. American individualism, on the other hand, has yielded a system in which each municipality has a great deal of autonomy, making regional cooperation difficult. “The vulnerabilities are regional,” said Judith Rodin, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which is the main funding organization working with Donovan’s team. “Yet we have individual community rule, and very little incentive to get out of that.”

But the need to apply new thinking in the U.S. couldn’t be greater, Ovink said. Climate scientists predict that by the end of the century, sea levels will rise by between one and a half and four feet. New York City could see storm surges up to 24 feet. Miami Beach could be under water. “Water has not been a policy issue in the U.S.,” Ovink said. “That’s because you’re mostly all above sea level. But what if the sea level changes?”

       The question is no longer IF this is going to happen - it's WHEN. We have answers. We need to put them to work.


The Future isn't what it used to be, so:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    I highly recommend reading the NY Times article about Henk Ovink.  The Dutch have had to make tough choices and face an unfavorable reality for a long time. We have a lot to learn from them.

    Meanwhile, here's NPR's coverage of the formation of a Supercell storm. The power of weather is not to be mocked.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Mon May 19, 2014 at 08:15:41 PM PDT

  •  Few points (9+ / 0-)

    It is not only rising sea levels but the increase in heavy precipitation that global warming brings to some areas. The flooding in Bosnia and Serbia (and other countries on the Danube earlier but to a smaller extent) have been caused by the rivers, notably the Sava in Bosnia, which joins the Danube at Belgrade.

    Earlier this year, England had flooding from both storm surges on the coast and heavy rainfall on already soaked ground - as in the Balkans.

    A greater risk in other areas are flash floods which inundate roads and low lying ground which are not usually part of the river system or are long dried up water courses.

    Hi-tech solutions like the massive dams used by the Dutch are not the answer in many places. Constructing levees for example merely pushes the water further downstream. What is needed is a comprehensive management which would include many small measures. An example is the use of some farmland to hold back water to drain away slowly. This is from a NY state page about beavers:

    Problem beaver situations may include an impoundment threatening downstream property, upstream flooding of land, trees or crops killed or damaged by flooding, flooding of homes, flooding of highways or railroads, contamination of water supplies, impairment of drainage systems, damage to wildlife habitat or landowner distress.
    That fails to recognize that the upstream flooding is an excellent way of preventing downstream damage to more economically valuable areas like city centers. In fact, rather than being a pest, beavers are now being promoted as the solution to major flood economic damage in the UK where it is extinct in most areas.
    The cheapest and most effective way to control river flooding in Britain would be to bring back beavers to construct natural dams to hold back water, the UK Mammal Society has recommended to the environment secretary, Owen Paterson.

    The rodents, known as "master river engineers", nibble and fell trees to create large lodges which restrict river flow, store water, and reduce flash floods and erosion.

    In fact, fake beaver dams are already being installed in suitable locations so that low lying parts of fields flood and then slowly release the water.  In other areas, sea defences are being breached to allow surge waters to flood newly created salt marshes rather than building the sea walls even higher.

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Tue May 20, 2014 at 04:25:34 AM PDT

  •  well, at least the toxins poured into (4+ / 0-)

    the Danube last year can be washed away.

    100,000 homeless? Torrential rains?


    How fucked up is that?

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Tue May 20, 2014 at 06:22:19 AM PDT

  •  Meanwhile dailykos sticks head in the sand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, Texas Lefty

    We have dumb pie fights on the front page and reclist about things Glenn Greenwald didn't say while major freaking disasters hit and civilization is threatened

    Talk about privilege.

  •  Thank you for. Fyi, I have a related diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BMScott, julesrules39, tardis10, xaxnar

    that includes pictures and in the Update some links for donations:

    I don't love writing, but I love having written ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

    by jan4insight on Tue May 20, 2014 at 08:43:19 AM PDT

  •  These floods will be more devastating and frequent (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, xaxnar

    Not only will the warmer air carry more water, the storms pull it from a much wider area. So, they can drop a lot more water more quickly.

  •  Moja Bosna (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, julesrules39, xaxnar

    I can't think of a country in Europe that has gone through more destruction and heartbreak in the past 20-25 years than Bosnia.  First they got the war, then the corruption and economic destruction after the war, and now this once in a lifetime flood.  

    "I'm a progressive man and I like progressive people" Peter Tosh

    by Texas Lefty on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:35:51 AM PDT

  •  Donation sites (5+ / 0-)

    This tweet links to a master list of donation sites for the three countries involved. Most complete list I've found so far:

    I don't love writing, but I love having written ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

    by jan4insight on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:41:01 AM PDT

  •  This is the site for donations US Embassy Belgrade (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

    by ciganka on Wed May 21, 2014 at 02:04:32 PM PDT

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