Tuesday 30 September 2014

Mediterranean boat people

More than 3,000 migrants have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean – the highest total on record. The official figure for 2014 so far is 3,072, though some claim the true number is three times as high.

Across the world, the official figure is 4,077, meaning three in every four of those who perished were trying to get to Europe. Since 2000, 40,000 migrants are said to have perished worldwide – more than half of them trying to get to Europe.

The worst incident of 2014 was the apparently deliberate ramming of a ship earlier this month by people traffickers off Malta, which resulted in 500 people being drowned.

The ship had been carrying Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and Sudanese, and survivors said it was rammed after a ‘violent confrontation’ on board.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Diary Date - flood talk October 9

I'm giving a talk entitled 'Are floods getting worse? at Swiss Cottage Library on October 9 at 1830, based on my book Flood: Nature and Culture.  Admission free.  All welcome.   

Last year, the UK’s Environment Agency issued a record number of flood warnings, while also in the last few years, Pakistan has had its worst monsoon floods in eight decades, Thailand suffered one of the costliest inundations in history, Colombia and Brazil experienced the severest in living memory, and Australia’s prime minister declared the Queensland floods perhaps the worst natural disaster ‘in the history of our nation’.

So are things actually getting worse? I will be revealing that floods are the natural disasters humans are most likely to experience, and that some of the most ambitious structures ever built have been put up to defend us against them.

I will also be telling how stories like that of Noah’s ark, about an apocalyptic flood which almost wipes out humanity, feature in dozens of religions all over the world. Floods caused by rain, melting snow, storms, tsunamis, tides, the failures of dykes or dams, or deliberate act of war all feature.

The talk will also look at the way floods have been portrayed in films, literature and art.