Tag Archives: floods

Content Alert: New Articles (16th March 2012)

These Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Original Articles

Micro-political and related barriers to stakeholder engagement in flood risk management
Chin-Pei Tseng and Edmund C Penning-Rowsell
Article first published online: 9 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00464.x

Scale in the effect of accessibility on population change: GIS and a statistical approach to road, air and rail accessibility in Finland, 1990–2008
Ossi Kotavaara, Harri Antikainen, Mathieu Marmion and Jarmo Rusanen
Article first published online: 9 MAR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00460.x

Floods should not mean disasters

by Ilan Kelman

Buildings in Moss' city centre in the floodplain (photograph by Ilan Kelman)

Looking back over past centuries, Norway, as with many other countries, has long experienced major river flood catastrophes. Several hundred died along the Gaula River in 1345. In eastern Norway in 1789, flooding killed over 70 people.

Fortunately, river flood deaths have been rarer in contemporary times though threats are still frequent. Most problems are property disruption and damage. Part of the reason is that we own more to be damaged.

Part of the reason is Norway’s tradition of managing rivers by relying on walls–dams, levees, and dikes. When (not if) a wall’s flood design limit is exceeded, the land behind it floods. People are unprepared because they thought that they would be protected.

Instead of forcibly separating people and water, why not let floodplains–called that for a reason–do their job? Let rivers behave as rivers, spreading out when it rains or when the snow melts. Use walls occasionally or as a part of flood risk reduction, but don’t rely on them for everything.

River floods are part of Norway’s environment. They are a natural process. When humans get in the way of floods, then disasters happen. We can stop disasters by permitting floods.

The author: Dr. Ilan Kelman is Senior Research Fellow, Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo (CICERO).

Kelman I and Rauken T 2012 The paradigm of structural engineering approaches for river flood risk reduction in Norway Area doi: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2011.01074.x

Sandelson M 2011 Norway storms isolate thousands The Foreigner  27 December

Local solutions to global food shortages

Mopane Caterpillar

A Mopane caterpillar, found in southern Africa

I-Hsien Porter

The United Nations ‘Food Price Index’ recorded food prices (particularly cereals, sugar and meat) rising to record highs.

Warnings of dangerously high food prices were driven by dry weather in Argentina, cold weather in Europe and North America, and floods in Australia. For example, Australia is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wheat.

However, our attention is rarely drawn to food consumption, rather than food production. In a paper in the Geographical Journal, Peter Illgner and Etienne Nel highlight the loss of traditional food and food consumption, which in many parts of the world has been displaced by imported Western fare.

In a case study of the Mopane caterpillar, the authors argue that edible insects have historically been important to diet in poor rural communities. If bias towards Western foods could be overcome, Illgner and Nel express the view that insects are an economically and practically viable addition to our diets. In addition, this might even empower poor communities that cannot aspire to lifestyles associated with high levels of consumption.

The Guardian (5th January 2011) ‘World food prices enter ‘danger territory’ to reach record high’.

Illgner, P. and Nel, E. (2000) ‘The Geography of Edible Insects in Sub-Saharan Africa: a study of the Mopane Caterpillar’. The Geographical Journal 166 (4): 336-351