A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Drought and flood - 18th century style.....

Lest you are tempted to fall for the current media and government hype that this year's drought and last year's floods are anything special...here are some pertinent entries from Gilbert White's famous 18th century diary, or Naturalist's Journal:


1770: Oct. 18: Vast floods on the Sussex rivers: the meadows all under water. Vast flood at Houghton..... The Sussex-rivers are very liable to floods, which occasion great loss & inconvenience to the Farmers. Nov. 8. Heavy rain for 24 hours. Vast flood at Gracious street & dorton [sic]. Nov. 3. Misling rain all day. Nov. 9. Floods: torrents & cataracts in the lanes. Nov. 15. Vast rain at night. The ground so wet that no sowing goes forward. Much ground unsown.


1781: Oct. 16. The mill at Hawkley cannot work one-tenth of the time for want of water. Oct. 21. The distress for water in many places is great. Oct. 26. Men sow their wheat in absolute dust. Oct. 31. The water is so scanty in the streams that millers cannot grind barley sufficient for mens [sic] hogs. Dairy-farms cannot fill the butter-pots of their customers.

And, if you can get hold of it (not online, I fear), you might like to read my own latest piece, 'Truth about the politics of flood and drought', in the beautiful Country Illustrated, Autumn 2003, pp. 70-75. And, of course, it poured down all last night! Philip.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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