Constant rain for four days is a nuisance. When, however, floods that kill people come after four-days of rain, it is something to think about. Especially, when the same thing happens for the fifth time in 12 years. One does not need to be a psychic to forecast that when the waters fall we will find ourselves, yet again, in search of causes of the disaster, as well as of the ways to prevent it, this time for sure.
It would be similarly easy to guess that there will be little interest in trying to name the real reasons – especially when easy explanations are at hand. The previous floods have already shown quite well how these things work.
How to make pave road for a torrent
“Water with mud suddenly streamed from the hills and fields…,” is remarkably often repeated in many of the descriptions of Czech floods. But the reason is the same even in the places where the banks burst: the way our land is currently being cultivated we are only heading for further and further catastrophes.
The list of sins against the country, at the sight of which traditional farmers would freeze in horror, is endless. To pick just a few: huge fields undivided by bulks – lately, even the last islands of greenery are being destroyed in pursuit of subsidies. We grow crops whose root system does not prevent the land from erosion. Careless land improvements that are often unnecessary and only done so a befriended company makes profit. Ploughing at a right angle to the contour lines leading the rainwater into the valleys.
The cruel felling of trees in large areas at once using heavy machinery is another thing on the list. It is often done in strips that serve as channels during rain. The straightening of the riverbeds, their paving, concreting and placing into pipelines. The destruction of floodplain forests and commercial use of former flood areas. Construction turning large areas of roofs, parking lots and roads into rainwater reservoirs. And we could go on and on.
All these sins have a number of things in common. The first one is that their roots date back to a time when the Bolsheviks started treating the countryside just like a factory. The second lies in the fact that, despite the change of the regime, not much has changed in this respect – only the former agricultural-industrial complex has a different name now. This can be seen from the plane too: often it is only at the Austrian or German borders where the former co-op fields end and the real country begins. The third common thing stems from the previous two: There is a strong motivation to hush up the real reasons of the floods.
Opening the floodgates
This was quite obvious during the latest floods: The rainfall was not particularly extraordinary, moreover, the previous years have been rather dry. It was the countryside, milked dry to yield maximum profit for decades, that failed to take the rain in since the flood does not start somewhere in the river but in every field furrow, pothole and chasm. However, there are few influential people interested in saying that out loud.
There have to be at least some reasons published and the “harmless” explanations are the easiest onese to utter. Take climate change for example: The culprit is vague and widely spread. On the other hand, the willingness to finance the “battle” against climate change has become an inseparable and profitable part of political agenda.
And so we fight the floods with methods that won’t stop the water but that will open the floodgates to tax-payers’ money. Often the same lobby that improves and concretes riverbanks to enable the water to flow into villages merrily pushes for the construction of a waterwork aimed at containing the very water further down stream.
And when they find out it didn’t work yet again? It’s your fault, you didn’t give enough money. The main thing is not to believe those who say that the floods can be prevented from the long-term perspective by the cultivation of the countryside. They only want to take your jobs and our profits away.