Floods and Irony

### Reader’s Letter to The Guardian, 17th May 2024 ### …

Dear Editor,

I nodded all the way through Sirin Kale’s piece on flooding driven by climate-change (The Guardian, 16th May 2024, link below) and was especially interested in her experiences in Ahrweiler: I was there about a year after the floods and was shocked by the fact that several building projects were going on within the river’s flood-plain.

And, just half-an-hour’s drive from Ahrweiler, is the UN’s environmental HQ in Bonn where, once again this June, IPCC, NGO and COP-delegates (thousands of them!) will be meeting for their annual preparatory talks prior to the main Climate Change Conference in Baku this autumn.

I work in Bonn and for the last fifteen years have been picketing the COP-preparatory talks with increasing frustration: Each year the delegates stroll past with smartphones glued to their ears, smiling benignly as they “patiently” explain to demonstrators that they are “doing all they can” … while, year after year, we watch emissions continue to rise.

Then, from the top-floor of the “Langer Eugen”, the UN Environment Building in Bonn, you can clearly see the billowing plumes from the clusters of power-stations fueled by extremely inefficient and polluting lignite (“brown-“) coal from the massive open-cast mines dotted between Cologne and the Belgian border … directly en route to Brussels!

If that weren’t enough, it has recently been announced that Microsoft (based in Cologne) will be building two “hyperscaler” cloud data-centres in Bedburg and Bergheim, directly next to the mines and those power-plants. Supposedly they will use “renewable energy” but such data-processing “beasts” are massively power-hungry so my strong suspicion is that these will serve as convenient alibis to indefinitely postpone the closure of the lignite-mines (currently planned for 2030).

So, yes, the floods are (and will continue to be) horrific! But it becomes grotesquely ironic when important institutions such as the UN in Bonn and such obvious contributors to the problem (lignite-fueled power-generation) are within whistling distance of the disaster that went on under their noses along the river Ahr.

Alan Mitcham

Link to original article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/article/2024/may/15/down-to-earth-the-floods






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