Climatic episodes such as the one that has hit the southeast of Spain these days are not uncommon, but the virulence of the rains and the human and material damage caused have reached an unusual dimension.
Until yesterday, six deaths had been counted due to the effects of the devastating storm and the social and economic consequences are still difficult to quantify. Isolated depression at high levels or cold drop has left large areas completely flooded in the provinces of Valencia.
Alicante, Murcia and Almeria, which have registered 450 liters per square meter in just 48 hours. The intensity of the phenomenon has left isolated populations without electricity, dozens of roads cut and several inoperative rail networks.
Apart from the impossibility of controlling the recurring meteorological crises in certain areas, it is worth examining to what extent human action contributes to increasing the extent of the disaster. To build houses in the river channels and to build urbanizations in waterways or places with high risk of being flooded does not cease to be reckless.
Ecological organizations have long been warning that there are around 50,000 buildings in Spain, whether housing, sports centers or senior centers, in easily flooded areas. In view of the destructive effects of the floods, the Administration is responsible for acting forcefully to prevent it from being built in areas susceptible to being engulfed by water when the rains increase.
It would also be convenient for the hydrographic confederations to review their protocols to adequately maintain the riverbeds and thus mitigate the effects of overflows, as has happened in Segura as it passes through several locations.
It does not seem reasonable that there are populations located in lower areas than the river channel. Reviewing the urban plans and having the opinion of geographers and engineers are necessary measures to try to prevent human action from increasing the voracity of meteorological phenomena such as the cold drop.
Attributing to climate change situations that recur in early autumn in the southeast is as hasty as it is misleading. But there is a high probability that greenhouse gases will contribute to making storms of this magnitude increasingly frequent and of greater intensity.
Global warming leads to sharp heat waves and prolonged droughts followed by virulent floods, situations that in addition to seriously affecting agriculture pose a challenge for the food production chain and for the environment itself.
Although the meteorological services were announcing the arrival of torrential rains in advance, the devastation has been enormous. Hence the commendable evacuation and rescue work and the containment of the torrents carried out by Civil Protection, security forces and the Army, forced to deploy an unprecedented device.