Your browser is no longer supported. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Can we talk about climate change now? flash mob

By Jamie Clarke on February 12, 2014

One of Oxford’s main roads played host not to evening rush hour but instead to a flotilla of boats and children out for a paddle in the flood waters on Monday.

Local residents of all ages motivated by yet another flood in the area came together to ask “Can we talk about climate change now?”

Oxford, like many areas of the country, is suffering the second serious flooding of 2014, with dozens of house holders being affected, commuters facing major delays and businesses suffering.

These are flooding levels that were supposed to only ever happen once in every 100 years –  but this is the fourth time in six years!

The flash (flood) mob was stimulated by local people asking why if flooding is all over the news why isn’t the issue of climate change?

The irony is that in my daily work I help people engage with the issues of climate change but for the second time this year my wife and two young kids have been forced from our home. We packed all we could take into our car and now hopping between friend’s houses.

The whole community is talking about how these are the worst floods ever and how they are becoming more frequent and intense. Having these conversations motivated me to organise the flash mob because so many people were drawing the connection between the floods and climate change but it felt like politicians and the media weren’t.

Whilst no one extreme weather event can directly be linked to climate change the patterns we are experiencing of more and worse severe weather certainly does. We need to break the climate silence and ensure planners, policy makers and politicians do the same.

COIN recently released a report on Climate Silence

written by Jamie Clarke

3 responses to Can we talk about climate change now? flash mob

  1. Climate change is THE fundamental issue here and we must not let our politicians forget it. Sadly they have forgotten it for so long now that the issues are moving from prevention to a combination of prevention and adaptation.

    While people are thinking about adaptation they think mainly of dredging and flood channels instead of focussing on storage and dispersal of water. As a resident of Abingdon I am terrified of the shot-gun proposal to construct an Oxford Flood Relief channel and to do the same for Abingdon with Swift Ditch. We all know what happens when bypasses are constructed: they move the traffic jams further on. The Oxford Flood bypass will lower the bevel of water in the Oxford floodplain and that water has to go somewhere. It will arrive in Abingdon so quickly that it will be just in time to make any flooding on the River Ock much much worse. Traditionally the Ock has peaked before the Thames peak reaches Abingdon and a lot of the reason for that is that the Thames peak is held back in Oxford for a while.

    Using Swift Ditch as an Abingdon flood bypass will have the same effect on Culham, Sutton Courtenay, Clifton Hampden and Wallingford. We need to adapt by changing the way our water meadows work, by re-installing trees in our river headwaters and by insisting that any paving in the floodplain must be drained to soakaways even if the latter have to be major civil works on a scale not used yet.

    In OXford it is obvious that Abingdon Road might be isolated and pumped at the worst times but for much of the time a simple raised carriageway would allow traffic to proceed without sending bow waves into adjacent houses, most of which are above the flood mark. Maybe others can make useful suggestions for Botley Road?

    But the fundamental principle is that any floodplain requires legal protection and we don’t have that at present.

    Going back to climate change, keep on at your MP. Tell politicians that proper insulation is required on all housing and that they should be competing with each other to get the very best installed. It won’t be cheap but if done well it will pay huge dividends in years to come, reducing our imbalance of payments for a start, but most important, reducing CO2 production and pollution.

By Jamie Clarke

Jamie Clarke was Climate Outreach’s Executive Director for almost 10 years, from 2013 to 2022. Under his leadership, Climate Outreach grew into an internationally acclaimed organisation. As a values-based leader, he provided strategic direction with an empathetic management approach. He is a proven international speaker and considered writer who feels as comfortable addressing the UNFCCC as co-authoring books such as Talking Climate. In his studies as a social scientist, he focused on participatory processes at the nexus of societal and environmental issues. Undertaking extensive research in the Pantanal region of Brazil crystalised his understanding of centrality of effective citizen engagement in change processes.  

Passionate about widening engagement with climate change, he previously worked for advocacy organisations including Amnesty International UK and Practical Action. In these roles he saw how difficult it is for many people to connect with climate change narratives, and how this often underpins apathy and opposition. Determined to address this and the largely under-recognised role that the wider public has in tackling climate change, he previously led a successful youth climate outreach programme that targeted marginalised students studying vocational courses. Jamie lived for many years on a canal boat but now lives on terra firma in Oxford with his family and is rarely off a bicycle.

Sign up to our newsletter