International Rivers Network’s second annual “Dams, Rivers & People” report explains the failure of dams and levees to stop rising flood damages and describes better ways to tackle flood management. It also surveys the world of rivers and dams in 2006 and hotspots for 2007.
Floods are the most destructive, most frequent and most costly of natural disasters. Flood damages have soared in recent decades, despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on flood control structures. This is partly because global warming is worsening storms, and partly because of growing populations and economic activity on floodplains. It is also because flood control technologies and approaches often prove counterproductive.
Improving our ability to cope with floods under current and future climates requires adopting a more sophisticated set of techniques — the “soft path” of flood risk management, which aims to understand, adapt to and work with the forces of nature. Before the Deluge gives an in-depth look at the flaws with hard, structural flood-control techniques and describes what we need to do to make our communities safer from floods.