Lost Cities?

A report by Newcastle University highlights the risk posed by a shift to more extreme weather patterns. Particularly, it is thought that the frequency of occurrence of flooding will increase, with 5.2 million properties in the UK identified as being at risk. It is tempting to think that extreme weather might blow over; however, a long term structural change in conditions is equally possible. Our terrain has changed radically over centuries, partly due to cyclical climate changes, but also due to human actions, such as deforestation. Many UK towns (typically strategically developed adjacent to water sources such as rivers) are built on land that was formerly marshy or wetland. If conditions revert, then as unpalatable as it might seem, decisions weighing the cost of abandoning urban areas against significant and indefinite investment in their protection feel, inevitable. This decision is relatively easy when the settlement is small, the risk is high, and the scenario is catastrophic, (e.g. Dunwich, Winchelsea). More difficult is when the settlement is large/valuable and the risk is incremental (e.g. Westminster).