The Prince of Wales's visit to the Somerset Levels has once more drawn attention to the dire circumstances faced by thousands of people because of floods. And as more extreme rain drenches the UK, calls for more flood defences and river dredging have predictably become louder. There is, however, another focus that has been hardly mentioned.
My 30 years of environmental campaigning has spanned the office of a dozen environment secretaries. Two of them stand out as exceptional. One of them holds office now.
Owen Paterson, our present secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, occupies a very special position.
With the first installment of the fifth assessment report (AR5) from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now published, it must be hoped that the job of exiting the carbon age can finally get serious.
Following months of speculation, this week the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will set out the latest collective view from the world’s leading climatologists, atmospheric physicists and other experts about the extent of human impact on the Earth’s climate system. Most importantly it will set out possibilities about what might happen in future. That word “might” is key.