Occasionally, the BBC produces a news story for April Fool’s day; the last one, in 2008, was a report, complete with video of penguins escaping the Antarctic winter by flying to South America. In 2013, did they make a global fool of our Prime Minister? The story was deadly serious, the flash flood in Port Louis that claimed the lives of our precious citizens on 30th March. Curiously the BBC first reported the story on 31st March and then repeated it the next day. The BBC’s children’s website described the calamity in only 5 sentences, the last one being:
The Mauritian Prime Minister blamed climate change for the floods.
WHAT!?! While it is impossible for us to do a survey of primary school students around the world, we believe, perhaps with the exception of Mauritius, most would consider this statement utterly ridiculous. The line was repeated in the main news bulletin on BBC World, presumably to let the whole planet would know that we have an idiot in charge of our country. Even when there was unprecedented melting of the Greenland’s ice sheets in July 2012, the BBC’s report contained a caveat from a top climate scientist:
…as always we cannot attribute any individual extreme event to climate change…
So why did RamGooLam blame climate change for the flash floods in Port Louis? Either because he doesn’t know what he is talking about or because he wanted to divert blame from his own corrupt and incompetent administration for failing to take the necessary precautions to protect the population. But surely the rainfall was exceptional? Well yes and no. While 152 mm of rain fell in only one hour, what about the 745 mm that fell in 24 hours when cyclone Dina passed in 2002 or the 3929 mm that inundated Reunion over 36 hours due to cyclone Gamede in 2007? Simply put, Mauritius’ location makes the island vulnerable to flash flooding. God help us when the next cyclone comes…
The generous amongst you might wish to give the bumbling baboon the benefit of the doubt and assume that Prime Minister was using the opportunity to sensitise the population to the great threat that climate change poses to our nation. But if that were the case, then a few questions come to mind:
1. Is he at the forefront of a global campaign to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or actively supporting new coal-fired power stations back home?
2. Is he seeking to address the other causes of climate change, ie deforestation and urbanisation, by ensuring that abandoned sugar cane fields are replanted with trees or is he encouraging his friends to build housing estates and shopping malls on them?
3. Is he supporting the long term plan to move the administrative centre from Port Louis, which is vulnerable to not only flash floods, but storm surges and sea level rise, to a safer location in Highlands or is he more concerned about the reduction in his friends’ wealth if their buildings are no longer rented to the government? (See this article if you are not sure.)
The Prime Minister is invited to give his response as a comment…
Report by the World Meteorological Organisation on a decade of climate extremes.