Can the Dutch save the world from the danger of rising sea levels?
The Netherlands is the best protect data in the world with centuries of experience in holding back the floodwaters as climate change causes sea levels to rise can touch expertise. Help Save the world cities that are most at risk or think so bad that they will struggle to even save themselves themselves. Simon Cooper has looked into this question and he's with me now to discuss what he discovered. Hi Simon Esta so about a third of the Netherlands. ORLANDS is below sea level including the capital Amsterdam. You grew up in Leiden that also below sea level and were you aware of the risk of flooding. When you're a child ounce on facial redness blow sea level? I must say I never checked during my childhood. There's also a lot of land. That's not below sea level but susceptible to river flooding. WHO's three great rivers above the Rhine and in the Netherlands on my Johnny's to the sea? So you'll always closer river all see. I mean I grew up in Leiden as as you say. Which is I? Don't know about five miles from the same and it's reclaimed. Glands that Western Netherlands is where most of the population lives. So you know very large. Pasta appellation are most of the economy is they're threatened by the see below sea level and the funny thing is that because the Dutch of being so good since the disastrous Austral slaughtered nineteen fifty. Three of keeping the. I'm ribs it pay you better. Think about it in your daily life. I mean they're canals and you got fishing and did you learn to swim as soon as you can. Because it's unsafe to live in the Netherlands. Not being able to swim but generally you just don't think about the threat of flooding the Wolf's experts. I spoke to. This story complained that the population has always complacent. They assume the Netherlands would always be safe from the walls have given the geographical factors. That play is it the case. That's dot. History is littered with flooding disasters up to a certain point. I think you mentioned the last very serious floods Richard in the nineteen fifties. Yeah I mean. The Dutch spent centuries trying to deal with the wolves so plenty of the ELDA. The Roman author was stationed. There I think is a tribune in the first century idea and he he says look at being flooded all the time like wall miserable limbs by the fire of mud and it's just terrible and for centuries being flooded and people drowning was possibly cost of living in that area so they reclaim line from the seat. I built dikes. They did the best to maintain the bikes. It didn't always go well so for example. twenty-one thousands thousands of people were killed in floods maintaining the dykes is always sort of what history is being about. It wasn't always done well. So nineteen fifty three is the walls showed literally you get these disastrous floods kill about eighteen hundred people know. Madeleine's another three hundred dollars. Nason England something there. I think the English would largely forgotten by the doctor having forgotten that so often the fifty three flood the government says right never again and they set up a commission. The Commission says you have to build incredibly expensive defenses and it's going to take decades and cost in tax in this country that has been left low by the wall which is ready poll with people emigrating to the United States Australia and the DOT com says yes. We'll just do it because we have this again. One of the things you write about in the Steve Dunn for fifty we can magazine is something something called the Paul. D'Amato can you just tell us a little bit about what that is. Yes Oh upholder is a piece of reclaimed linemates flatlined and when you take a train through the Netherlands you see everywhere. He's very flat fields often. I see some cows grazing next to the cow will be a massive office block. Is the Docs use every inch of space in the small country and canals to carry off the water and the thing about the pulled. Ramon del as they reclaimed this line but the line was incredibly vulnerable because is one flood and everybody drown us so each district had to maintain its own dykes and in the Netherlands centuries yet terrible religious disputes and people killing each each other promising Catholic woes from fifteen sixty eight and so there was always political division but in the end it didn't really mice what religion you. You had some tightening talk so they created the system of negotiation compromise. You know the local weather being elected and sitting in committees about what's going on with our dyke and so it creates this very politics that exists today of compromise in pragmatism. You had to set the religious stuff and the audiology one side in the end. You just tattoo wet together to survive and mostly things were managed very well so today politics. I mean I think of it as a one party system you have have different policies but that was in coalition with each other and one full more another and so whether or the sensor ride. BVD All green left. All the centre-left peeve on the you're always having to negotiate and deal with each other in a pragmatic way and the Dutch coal that pulled him Odell and the golden so pulling means to sit down and hammer out a compromise compromise that nobody is going to get excited about it. I mean it just fearless. Though as we're seeing sea levels rise that kind of model of cooperation is going to be more and more needed around the world but I mean the other thing overseas money. Do we know roughly how much the Dutch spend each year on flood defences well money. I mean the surprise me. When I was researching the story money in a way is the easy bit I mean? The doctor saves money by spreading their spending. On dykes over seven hundred years. He is but nowadays they spend about a billion euros year on flood defences which given the most of the country's susceptible to floods is where you know bad it's commit more than north point one percents of GDP so the average person just really doesn't exit and obviously doing it from scratch like New Orleans. Now I mean New Orleans which is sort of similar bliss situations of the Netherlands has spent fifteen billion or US suspect fifteen billion levies etcetera. Protecting New Elaine. Since two thousand and five but if that's the cost of the survival of a place is actually not that bad so wealthy countries can do this. The biggest problem is that they don't have pulled a modell they don't have this. Pragmatic take compromise long-term spending which the Dutch you spend on dykes even when there's no crisis even when you haven't been flooded in decades you just do it all the time we know in the US. For example Donald it is just a big problem with spending any infrastructure so they weren't even on potentially life-saving infrastructure. Like dykes levees. So you have to think long term which is the the problem in many societies whereas spending don ends political rhythm so the new government the new president will spend something in the next one more of us. The ducks don't do that. Doesn't Marie Masters and government money got spent and the other thing is that you have to have a national program. You can't say will you happen to live in the two square gweat miles. That's most susceptible to flooding. So you must find the couple of billion it will take you to protect yourself against the wall Cher. No this is a national thing so we have have a national plan and national taxes to raise the money for wo suspending. Even can be a bit more if you live in. wosa threatened district broadly the whole population pays and the other thing. Is that good defenses ready. What when it's a national strategy because if you build a dike or Levee to protect your factory or your neighborhood ed or your apartment building and you see that in Miami where some buildings after on seawall then you're actually endangering the neighbors because the voices will hit your seawall? I'm be diverted to the neighbors so you can't have some people protecting themselves and others not which is very common along the US coasts. The ducks done do that. The whole whole country is protected so I came away thinking countries like the. US can folded countries like Bangladesh. Perhaps not but they don't have the long term they don't don't have the culture of negotiation and compromise and they don't have the National Corporation that you need to do this successfully. Some of these places have been turning to the Dutch asking asking for advice. Is that right. Yeah so I went to the Moslems kidding which is the big storm surge barrier that protects the rouse Ma'am Haba one Dutch official described it smears the front door of the Netherlands so is always waiting to close if the waters rise. Three macy's they haven't since it was completed twenty three years ago so so a lot of foreign visitors come to the Muslim caring because more and more cities around the world thinking of building storm surge. Barrett's the Italians are thinking about it. Venice has some protection protection. Maybe not enough George. Bush was recent visit. He's the Texas Land Commissioner. I think he's the nephew of George. W and George. Bush is trying to think of ways to protect Houston and ironically it's oil refineries from the rising waters which caused caused by the carbon emissions made by those are refineries arrays and so they come to the Netherlands. Look at these models of what the Dutch do and see if they could work in their own countries and to some degree the model model is the easy bit. The infrastructure is the easy but you can't build storm surge barrier but you have to keep monitoring dotting its spending on maintaining it and also so given the wolves are rising checking every couple of years. How long will my barrier last? Are we going to need to build a whole new on. We're GONNA need to build Out Bigger because if you build it for say a meter of rising waters it might not be able to save the water rises one and a half nieces and apart from the Moslem carrying this other flood defence strategy being used by the Dutch. Yeah I mean it's a whole system of dikes. If you woke woke along the seacoast you don't see the waterfront properties that you see in American real estate ads. Where you'll deck overlooks the ocean? And The Netherlands. Nobody lives CBS on the beach. You have the beach and then you have the Junes. which are these man made hills of signed that stopped the C- coming in and you can only live behind the junes? Then you have these sluices which can open or close depending so the real Saddam Hall. The Muslim king is open because as I was standing by the catering watching ships coming in and out on the way to Britain and elsewhere and is able to close. It's like a door that opened it's able to close it's the Walsh's rise so it's a very flexible and complex system the difference in every place in the country but that