Climate change demands a change of mindset
Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30
Even the most sceptical among us must by now be convinced that our climate is changing. We might argue over the causes but the effects are dramatic.
This was clearly evident in recent weeks as people struggled to save both their homes and businesses in the face of rising floods.
Watching the news on TV each evening, I could not help wondering how it is that the Dutch seem to manage rather well despite centuries of battling with flood waters.
It is over a decade since I last visited Holland as part of a group who wished to learn more about how the Dutch manage their woodland and remarkably, despite being such a low lying country, they have the same percentage of tree cover as we do.
All of the woods in Holland are grown on a continuous cover basis and one well established site we visited was a striking example of how to grow good ash among other broadleaves with a mix of conifers scattered here and there throughout. It was a fine wood and very productive with many of the ash butts being exported to Ireland for hurley manufacture.
What was most remarkable however was the fact that the forest floor was five metres below sea level. On questioning the forester in charge, he told me that if they stopped pumping, the area would be immediately flooded. How on earth do they do it?
Centuries ago the Dutch people built huge dykes and began to reclaim land from the sea. They used windmills to drive pumps and gradually they won the battle, eventually creating thousands of hectares of farmland where formerly there was nothing but tidal saline floodplains.
We have much to learn from them, not least the manner in which they now use wind power to help create the electricity to power the massive pumps that keep so much of their land above water.