17/02/2014 Newsnight


Who knows best on floods - scientists or politicians? What happens when your welfare is stopped? North Korea atrocities. Scotland and the EU. David Bailey.

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Who knows best when trying to protect Britain from adverse


weather. The media, the people whose homes have been wrecked or the


Government. There is a substantial number of right-wing MPs who are


privately climate sceptical, and who are even more sceptical about the


spending of money to deal with the problem. Also tonight this:


With the social services I need to have food in, and I need a separate


bed for my child. What happens when benefit claimants break the rules


and the Government stops their money?


David Bailey will be taking me around his exhibition of the


National Portrait Gallery, a few of his many millions of snaps he's


putting on display for the first time. Snaps? Snaps, is can he do


that again! ? Good evening. I will make sure we learn all the lessons,


it is what a politician usually says when he or she has made mistakes.


David Cameron promised that today while visiting another flood-hit


areas, while announcing a fund for businesses who have had a


significant loss of trade from all the bad weather. Politicians from


every party have been rushing to show their best plans so it doesn't


happen again. We track the course of the River Thames in search of the


lessons the politicians should be learning. What's normally a trickle


is now a river. What's normally a river resembling a lake. Stubborn


water with nowhere to go, and everywhere it is not wanted.


But if the country's journey through weeks of flooding will change


anything, this is where it begins. You can even see bubbles coming up


to the surface as the water comes above ground for the first time. And


it might not look like much, but this stone marks the start of the


River Thames. This isn't just another flooded field, but the


beginning of a river that has caused such chaos for thousands of families


and businesses. An awful lot of political trouble for those 180


miles further along. Nearby the PM is still cramming in


visits after his colleagues spent the start of the crisis pointing


fingers rather than pointing out what might help. Desperate to --


show he knows which ways the wellingtons are pointing. The army


are on the streets and the call has gone out for favourite political


past time, are you ready... There was always time to ask what could be


done, what schemes should be looked at and I will make sure we learn all


the lessons. But if we have had the heaviest rainfall in more than two


centuries is it reasonable, even if feasible, to expect the Government


to defend all our homes using our money? Much, much more than the ?10


million promised for affected firms today. One former minister at the


stable when some spending was cut believes it is. The decision in 2010


to cut flood defences in, in retrospect, clearly a mistake. I


think the Government has to face up to a key role, which is to protect


this as best they can from the natural disasters. The Prime


Minister has gone right to the other extreme by saying money is now no


object. Well it is a shame that there wasn't a bit more money back


in 2010. Spending is now being dragged up, and some of the


environment agencies' efforts have made a difference, they have kept


water from the door but far from making the problem disappear. This


is a part of Gloucester David Cameron didn't visit today. Sandbags


are piled as high as the hip outside every front door. Locals have been


fighting off the water for days. But for many people we have spoken to


the risk isn't just from the rain, it is also from years of bad


political decisions. Flood defence walls were built in people's back


gardens here after 2007. I'm Laura from Newsnight, this must be a


lovely garden without the River Severn. What has happened? It came


to the top of the wall but not over. Richard said the agency and army's


help has been better, it took three days for pumps to arrive. While he's


protecting his 19th century home, he's furious new houses are being


built nearby. Stew pit, this was build in 1851, they didn't know


about things then, we have advanced since then, therefore people know it


floods on the floodthings then, we have advanced since then, therefore


people know it floods on the flood pla they know it and shouldn't be


building. Two thirds of this flood plain is gone, covered in houses


since 1947. Round the corner another local sketched out why he believes


more roads and more houses don't leave enough room for more water. A


lot of it is down to historical Government incompetence. They


allowed the landfill site to the south of us, in excess of 300 acres,


blocking out the whole of the exit of where all the float warders of


1947 went. The problem is that -- flood waters of 1947 went. The


problem is the Government is allowing building on flood plains.


Even though a person who thought the Government have been excellent


thought there was enough. Rivers need to be dredged again, which they


are going to be, very positive, very, very positive. Dredging won't


be reintroduced everywhere, it is expensive and can hurt as well as


help. And senior politicians are now vying to be seen to accept climate


change is part of the problem. The coalition's actual commitment to


following policies that might make a difference have ebbed and flowed at


best. But some senior sceptics have been rather less vocal. So with some


of the wealthiest parts of the south-east under water, a powerful


constituency, is this the moment where Cameron will cleave again to


his original promise, vote blue-go green. I'm surprised that anybody


can really dispute with 98% of climate scientist who is say that


climate change is a reality. Actually even the climate change


sceptics are only sceptical about whether it is man made or not. All


of us need to unite behind the very, very clear plan of mitigation and


adaptation. Insurance firms are perhaps inevitably being called to


Number Ten tomorrow. Emergency payouts have started. But what will


matter is not just how this Government deals with this crisis,


lapping at the banks of Westminster. What will matter is what happens


when these waters finally recede and what will really be different the


next time. One of the few areas of consensus among the politicians on


the floods is the role of climate change, a Tory cabinet minister said


it was clearly a factor, while Labour leader, bland, said floods


meant -- Ed Miliband said that floods was a priority. What should


our response be? Let's discuss with Kevin Anderson, Professor of Climate


Change, and Andrew Montford, author of Hockey Stick Illusion which


critques the science of climate change. What we know from the


climate modelling we have and science and physics and observations


is as we warm up the atmosphere we can hold more moisture in the


atmosphere and get more intense rainfall. We can see and the records


show this over the last 50 years the intensity of the rainfall in the UK


has increased. What we are seeing now by this sequence of unusual


events, this is consistent with the fixes, the modelling and with the


observations. But we will never be able to say that any single event is


a climate change event. Some politicians have pretty much said


that, are they exaggerating? If they say that they are misusing the


science, that is the case. It is fair to say this is consistent to


what we think about climate change. It is fair to say that the scale of


the challenge and the impacts will have been exacerbated by climate


change. We know the sea level rise has gone on because of the


atmosphere and the oceans have warmed. We know therefore that some


of the impact in Sandy in New York and the impacts we are seeing now


are partly due to the increased sea level rise. It makes the situation


worse, even if the overall event is not a climate change event. When


Philip Hammond says climate change is a factor and Ed Miliband saying


if you keep throwing sixes and they roll the dices are loaded. You say


that is exaggeration, but it might be useful for somebody like you. You


want to mobilise people to do something don't you? We want to


inform people to decide if they want to make the changes necessary. When


it was said it was factor, I want to point out from the sea level rise it


is a factor, it is not the cause but it is a factor. Andrew Montford, you


are not a scientist, you have been writing secretarically about this


for -- secretary -- sceptically for a while now, what do you think?


Everybody seems to agree, at least scientifically they seem to agree


that you can't link these floods to climate change. When he says that


sea level rise has been a factor, yes, I suppose it probably has been


a factor in terms of the sea level has gone up by, you know, a few tens


of centimeters over the last century. You have to remember that


sea level rise was occurring before man made carbon emissions were big


enough to effect climate change any way. We have seen perhaps a tiny


amount of acceleration, but sea level rises have been going on any


way, so it is something we have had to adapt to in the past and probably


we will just go on adapting to it in the future. My concern is actually


all we have seen so far in terms of global warming is about 0. 88 can he


greet of -- 0. 8 degree of a rise. If we radically don't reduce our


emissions it will he issed up to four, five, six degrees. We have a


taster of where we are heading, we have a choice between now and 2025


we have a choice about radically reducing emissions ordeal with the


impacts of climate change. If we look at people's homes who are


wrecked, pools of sewage across the ground floor, trying to persuade


them to spend millions on emissions and decarbonisation now? They won't


buy that? We have spent ?350 billion on bailing out the banks, we could


have greened all our infrastructure, and made all the houses in the UK


low carbon and resilient to climate change for less than we put into the


banks. It would have employed more people and better for the


engineering base, it would have helped with fuel poverty, everything


was a tick on that, we gave that much to the banks. We are not short


of money, wealth or capital to overcome climate change. What do you


think of that? There is certainly things we can do to spend money


better than we have been. I must say I'm not entirely convinced that


spending it on decarbonisation is the best way of doing it. We have


seen that the concern that people in the south west have about dredging,


and I think usefully money could be spend on dredging rivers. I know


there is a factor in the Thames floods as well. This is something we


can do for very small amounts of money. Let alone the amounts that


Kevin's talking about spending. We could do a lot to mitigate against


the risk of future flooding. Because flooding has always been a risk. We


talk about these, the rainfall in recent weeks having been completely


unprecedented. In fact it isn't completely unprecedent. You may find


odd places where it is unprecedented, over the south of


England it isn't, more infall in the 1920s for example. We have dealt


with these things in the past, we could deal with them in the future,


spending really quite small sums of money. Let's not talk about spending


billions, let's deal with the millions first. You think global


temperatures will rise by three, four, five degrees by the end of the


century? If we don't reduce our emissions. What will Britain look


like then? We are talking about a metre of sea level rise towards the


end of the century, if you put on top of that increased severity of


storms and possibly increased frequency of storms. What would


Britain be like? It would be a different shape. It doesn't matter


how much dredging do you in the Somerset levels they simply wouldn't


exist. Neither would large parts around the Thames as well. The shame


of the UK map a lot of East Anglia would go, and many islands in the


north of Scotland. Humberside as well. Many parts of the UK would


suffer and we would see, you know, major problems in terms of rehousing


people. Same this is a global problem, we would be having problems


with imports of food from anywhere else in the world. Our energy system


is not able to cope with this, we have a system that is really


Victorian. The future of welfare will be a fee -- key battleground in


the next election. Getting people off benefits is a key


part of the Government's plans. What impact are the changes having. They


Maundy Relief drop in centre they provide support and food to some of


the poorest residents in the town. We spent a week there finding out


about their experiences of benefit sanctions. Maundy Relief, can I


help? Hiya Keith. I have still got six days left on my sanction, I


wanted to know if I can get help with a food parcel and can you sort


a microwave for me. I'm not sure if we have a microwave I can do a slip


for you. Ever since we opened in 1998 we have always given out food


parcels. Now we are giving out twice, possibly three-times as many,


of those probably 70% are going to people whose benefits have been


sanctioned, that means they are left without any means of support. I have


got six days left. And then everything back to normal. Are you


run out of everything? I have got nothing. Could we have dinner here?


Dinner is at 1.00, can you stay for dinner. We are almost like a


mini-welfare state here. But we're being asked to do more and more. It


is forcing people into destitution, that's the word for it. You know we


can do what we can here, family and friends, but family and friends are


often in a similar position themselves. You can have people


sitting in the dock in -- in the dark with no food because there has


been a minor infringement of benefit rules, or in my opinion no


infringement at all. John was sanctioned last October, he says he


was told he hadn't been applying for enough jobs. This is the living room


and that is the kitchen there. This is where it is supposed to be doing


this up, but I have been living in this for a long time. The sanctions


are about basically saying you are not making enough of an effort to


look for work. So is that not fair? I turned around to them and said I'm


61 now, there is no jobs for somebody at my age, there is young


people, how can you sit there a young person, 25 years old and tell


me about work. You haven't had the experience I have had. So I said


don't make me laugh. This was a bigger bedroom, as you can see it is


really damp, I was living in this, you can imagine breathing that in. I


started getting really ill, ended up in hospital with it, with pneumonia.


This was the smaller bedroom I found were warmer, easier to keep, to get


warm in. You can see it is not right good. Sometimes when, if I'm really


desperate I will go and do a bit of shoplifting, which sometimes it can


be too busy and you are not able to do it. It is one of them things. You


take that risk, you might get caught. But you don't think that


when you are doing it. You just thinking of something to eat,


mainly. Look after yourself and ring the numbers if need be, all right


then, OK Jim see you Monday goodbye. Another one in crisis. We see people


here with extremely complex needs who suffer from mental health


problems who have been brought up in very, very bad circumstances, who


have been in care, who have not had the support at the beginning of


their lives that some of us would have expected. Many of those people


can move through that and have fulfilled lives, and some can't. And


they are too damaged, but they are not an attractive group of people to


many people. They might be people that you wouldn't want to sit in the


same room as. But they are vulnerable. I have been job


searching, but I even said to them I said that I had obviously would


bring it in to show them that I have been looking for the work and that.


But well they still sanctioned me and I were meant to be paid today.


You have not been? No. Zach's just been sanctioned. He's 25 and hasn't


worked since he was 16. Come in here, no. Shut that door. Bella,


chill out. There are jobs out there, why aren't you applying, or why


aren't you getting those jobs, what is going wrong? Well, I don't know,


some jobs they are only taking on certain qualified people, things


like that, I don't have no qualifications. I left school before


all my GCSEs and all that. But, most jobs are for qualified people and


like yeah, I do apply for it, even things that you need qualifications


for. But it is just, I don't know, obviously there must be better


people like qualified people for it. Because I just don't seem to be


getting anywhere at all. I have got a son to pay for, basically. And I


might not even be able to have a place. Breakfast, eat it up. With


the social services like obviously I need to have food in, I need to have


the gas and electric and things like that, and that's basically who has


told me I need a separate bed for my child. But obviously without being


paid I can't do that. Eat it up? We know people are trying, really


trying hard to get work and are unsuccessful. There is maybe quite a


low-skilled labour pool here. The sort of jobs that people


traditionally did aren't available any more. They don't have the means


to travel to another part of the country because they don't have the


money to