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Drought The New Norm!

January 20, 2018

By Paul Homewood



In Feb 2012, the ever reliable Guardian reported that drought would be the new norm for Britain:




Drought may be the new norm for the UK, with drastic measures including growing genetically modified crops likely to be considered as part of the solution, the environment secretary has said.


With large parts of the south and south-east of England officially in drought, and areas of the Midlands at risk, Caroline Spelman warned that households across the south-east were likely to face water usage restrictions this spring, starting with hosepipe bans. Reservoirs have reached record lows in some places and rainfall would need to be more than a fifth higher than normal in the next three months to relieve the drought, but forecasters have said this is unlikely.

Two very dry winters – this may be the new norm,” the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs told the National Union of Farmers annual conference on Tuesday. “We asked the question at the drought summit [on Monday] – what if this is what climate change means and this is the new normal?”




She said the UK had to look at how to make plants resistant to drought, pointing to an Australian project to develop drought-resistant genetically modified rice. “This technology, if used responsibly, may be one of the tools in terms of food security that we need going forward.”

She predicted GM rice would be an important crop in areas where rice was a staple food, but made it clear that similarly modified crops should be considered for the UK. “It could be one of the tools in the tool kit to help us with food security. The key thing is to keep investing in the science base.”

The union president, Peter Kendall, said it was “desperately worrying” that genetically modified crops were not being developed in Europe at the same rate as in China, the US and other countries.

Spelman warned that households would bear the brunt of water restrictions this year, as the drought has worsened. Last year, the government and water companies focused on reducing the water use of businesses and farmers, some of whom had their licences to draw water from rivers and underground sources changed or revoked.


Despite drought being declared across large areas last year, there were no hosepipe bans. But Spelman said this was unlikely to last this year. She insisted households should take more responsibility for saving water: “What came out of the drought summit was how much it’s about individuals making decisions.”

She said the most important counter-drought measure for the whole country was to capture the rain and store it, and pledged that changes to the planning system would make it easier to build reservoirs.

Farmers were changing some of their cropping patterns this year to cope with the expected drier conditions. But this would not stop food prices rising, Kendall warned. “As sure as night follows day, if it doesn’t rain, food is going to cost more money.”

He said farmers had recently lost a tax break on building reservoirs for their own use, making it more expensive to store water on farms and causing more farmers to rely on shared public water sources.

Spelman said drought was the biggest issue for the water industry for the next 20 years, and used the term “new norm” five times to describe current conditions, underling the depth of her concern.


How did that work out then?



UK Rainfall - Annual

UK Rainfall - Winter

  1. Jack Broughton permalink
    January 20, 2018 12:24 pm

    Of course if you started at 1960 you could say that rainfall is increasing by 4 mm / year and we’ll be flooded and relying upon paddy-fields by about 2200: doomed, we’re all doomed.

  2. Dave Ward permalink
    January 20, 2018 1:12 pm

    Walking across my lawn today feels (and sounds) like walking across a sponge…

  3. Bill Berry permalink
    January 20, 2018 1:23 pm

    I’m rather taken with this site:!Map

    • Dave Ward permalink
      January 20, 2018 1:59 pm

      Thanks for that, Bill. Duly bookmarked!

    • Sheri permalink
      January 20, 2018 2:23 pm

      A most interesting “drought” England has going. The drought seems to be in the accuracy and truthfullness of the media, but I could be wrong.

  4. Mack permalink
    January 20, 2018 1:24 pm

    Ah, but the narrative has moved on from those halcyon days when we were all going to fry. When she said ‘drought’ what she really meant to say was that we’re going to get more drought unless, of course, we happen to get more rain and flooding. She just forgot that bit. Global warming, the ‘settled science’ theory that fits everything that Mother Nature has to offer, even when it doesn’t. Marvellous. I don’t suppose anyone’s seen any of that snow lying around that was just going to be an ancient memory by now, have they?

  5. January 20, 2018 1:26 pm

    It is my fervent desire to have all subjected to a semester of paleobotany. During that semester, they would be confronted with the constant climate fluctuations over time–some which have been massive and many quite swift rather than gradual. It should serve to divest them of all this nonsense.

    • Sheri permalink
      January 20, 2018 2:25 pm

      Faith is not that easily shaken. They would simply believe the professor was trying to deceive them and react with complete disbelief, run home and watch an Al Gore movie to calm themselves.

    • January 20, 2018 3:39 pm

      The climate fluctuations you speak of is the most compelling argument, please pot more on this. Thanks for the input.

      • January 21, 2018 2:19 pm

        Here are some of the “big” cyclical players in climate. First and foremost are The Milankovitch Cycles.

        They were named after Serbian geophysicist and astronomer Milutin Milanković. In the 1920’s he made observations involving the earth’s elliptical orbit not being precise, but having a cycle of 413,000 years during which the orbital ellipse can become more or less elongated, thus effecting our distance from the sun. Earth also has an axial tilt affecting the angle with the sun which varies between 22.1° and 24.5°. This cycle is about 41,000 years. The third anomaly is the earth’s wobble, known as precession, as is spins on its axis with a period of some 23,000 years. These 3 things all effect our distance from and angle with the sun. Gravity also comes into play with pull on the vast oceans. For good measure, throw sunspot periodicity into the mix. That is an 11-year cycle, with the effect that more sunspots mean we are warmer. Conversely, fewer sunspots and we are cooler. We have been in a low sunspot cycle for a number of years.

        So it is not about CO2, but it is about earth’s elliptical orbit, axis tilt and wobble with a significant side show from “Our Mister Sun.”

  6. Stonyground permalink
    January 20, 2018 1:31 pm

    I think that drawing attention to these failed prophesies is an important weapon in the sceptics’ arsenal. One of the hallmarks of sound science is the ability to make sound predictions, as is the practice of re-thinking a hypothesis that fails to do so. As far as I can see, climate science fails on both counts.

  7. keith permalink
    January 20, 2018 1:41 pm

    Spelman was another fool appointed by Cameron. If I remember correctly she cancelled the building of a new reservoir north of London, which seems to smack against her idiot drought warnings. She had as much brains as the current climate chief, Perry, who is pretty odious woman.

  8. Broadlands permalink
    January 20, 2018 2:05 pm

    J.P. Kohler of the US Weather Bureau wrote about the year 1936 as follows:

    “The weather during the year 1936 was characterized by marked extremes in temperature and precipitation. Unparalleled prolonged periods of subzero temperatures obtained in many Western States in the early months of the year followed by unprecedented drought conditions during the summer months.”

    In the US the year 1956 was a very dry year…25.38 inches. The following year? 1957 was 33.87 inches. Drought to flood in one year!

    • Sheri permalink
      January 20, 2018 2:27 pm

      I finally found a couple of studies that showed drought is followed by floods in about half the cases. I had noticed this in reading up on and experiencing several droughts.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 20, 2018 6:19 pm

        “I finally found a couple of studies that showed drought is followed by floods in about half the cases.”

        That is often because the land is so dry and parched that the rain fails to sink in and be absorbed, just runing straight off the surface into the watercourses.

  9. Bitter@twisted permalink
    January 20, 2018 3:11 pm

    As I look out on the steady rain falling on my waterlogged garden, in Cambridge, our local water supplier is saying that a dry autumn is likely to result in water shortages and a hosepipe ban this summer.
    Of course the fact that the East of England’s population has mushroomed and nothing has been spent on increased infrastructure and storage has no influence on water supply.

      • Bitter@twisted permalink
        January 21, 2018 9:50 am

        Nothing that comes out of that criminal cartel, the EU, surprises me any more.
        Why can’t our moronic Government see it for the undemocratic, fascist empire it is and just get the Hell out?

    • AZ1971 permalink
      January 20, 2018 7:51 pm

      The loss of water through deficient infrastructure is a very valid question to make. Efficiency is, after all, the only real tool we have for improving the use of our natural resources. Which then begs the question, Why isn’t more being done to address losses of water in our delivery systems? Surely there has to be some kind of new technology which could be sent through the many, many kilometers of underground piping to either spray on a sealant or roll out an inflatable liner. I wonder if the UK or even the US has anyone working on that for a potential solution?

      • bob nielsen permalink
        January 22, 2018 3:19 pm

        The technology is there, it is common to insert liner pipes inside old pipes.Whats lacking is incentive to invest.
        This primitive country still has no national grid for water! You cant ship welsh or pennine water to london where the exploding popn needs doubled supply. The Victorians designed a grid ( easily accomplished by linking the rivers and canals with only a few pumping points required). However Victorians had masses of local water for their small popn so didnt build the grid.
        When Govt nationalised water it spent nothing on infrastructure, but invented the ‘hosepipe ban’ instead when popn growth meant demand outstripped local supply. So dont build linkages,just restrict supply when needed. Then they privatised but with no incentives to build infrastructure. If water gets short the govt supports its monopoly buddies with ‘hosepipe ban’. This suits Thames water who doesnt want you to be able to receive Severn, or welsh or United Utilities water and actually have a competitive market. Our ConLibLab Socialist Govts all support these anti-market practices.Now if a ban was to be seen for what it is, a breach of contract to supply and thus water charges are mandated to halve while a ban is in force, bans would disappear, since companies would invest in guaranteeing supply by linking to neighbouring monopolies. So no shortage of water, just our monopolist Governments wont build supply structures.

    • Russ Wood permalink
      January 21, 2018 2:04 pm

      On mushrooming population matched with Government inaction – we have an example in Cape Town, South Africa. In about six weeks, the city will have no water. The most recent news item is:

  10. January 20, 2018 3:42 pm

    The term “new norm” must come from Alice in Wonderland. The term means whatever they want it to mean at the time they use the term. One year drought is the “new norm”, the next year floods are the “new norm”. At the moment extremely variable weather appears to be the “new norm”. Sometimes “kids won’t know what snow is” is the “new norm”. Sometimes blizzards and ice are the “new norm”. It’s all very confusing for those of us who aren’t Government Ministers with all their insight.

  11. Athelstan permalink
    January 20, 2018 6:11 pm

    “I know” said Boris,

    “forget the bridge – let’s build an aqueduct or two!”

    Treeza patted his head, “there there bojo, now we all know to keep the people vexed and worried we employ the alarmunists to make stuff up and throw the runes in to the mixer and tell the propaganda factories sky/itv/beeb so that they can prophesy; doom and gloom and drought, fire, pestilence, wet, warm, dry, snow, frost, storms, Armageddon, crop failure and more – we require to ration water and make it infinitely expensive, don’t you understand little BOY”!?

    The fact of the matter is that – new water storage capacity installed since 1981 (Kielder) – there hasn’t been any,

    The other side to the equation – since the late 1990s thanks to the lunatics of the Bliar scourge and ‘open borders – just come on in’ the UK population has greatly increased to ± 70 millions……erm to, anyone’s guess.

    And note, most of the wet falls on the west more accurately – the far north west and not where most people live – the south east.

    Conclusion, population; it’s a lot more than it was in the early 80s. In the interim we have dry years and wet years and nothing to exclaim “crisis!” about – there’s water aplenty we just don’t store much, enough of it – that’s all and apart from shouting chicken little doom and drought – the political claque don’t give a fig – anxiety is what they seek to create.

  12. rjwooll permalink
    January 20, 2018 6:39 pm

    Well pointed out. If I remember correctly, in 1976 when our reservoirs did actually fall dangerously low, a minister for rain was appointed! There is no end to the quest for omnipotence of our governing class. King Canute come to mind.

    • diogenese2 permalink
      January 20, 2018 7:09 pm

      Probably the most spectacularly successful ministerial appointment ever;

      I remember that summer for two aborted trips to Longleat from the Bournemouth area, the first prevented by bush fires across most of Wiltshire and the second by flash floods around Cranbourne Chase. I have not experienced any summer “severe weather” in the UK since then or any winter since 1962/63.

  13. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 21, 2018 12:40 pm

    What is obvious from the graphs (and if you have actually lived in the UK and been conscious) is that rainfall varies most of if the time – it rarely is “average”.

    It is normal for rainfall to be above or below average in other words, but normal not being average is far too difficult a concept for mist climate scientists and virtually all politicians.

  14. Andrew permalink
    January 22, 2018 10:30 am

    And don’t forget the desalination plant they built at Beckton East London because of forthcoming water shortages. I believe it hasn’t been used in anger yet but has to be run at a low flow to maintain function- more unnecessary cost passed to the consumers/tax payers. Interestingly ‘red Ken’ refused permission and it was only approved when Boris became Mayor.

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