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Logo: Tom Bates, Derbyshire Local Histrory writer  
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The Great Flood of 2000 - & the Truth about Global Warming!

Posted Saturday, June 23, 2007

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Global Warming & The Rise of Derbyshire!

`Welcome to the New Lake Distict!'

Visitors to the Peak District during November of the year 2000 may have been slightly confused, if not amused by a makeshift sign that some local wag had attached to a signpost in Darley Dale which read, “Welcome to the New Lake District!”

`Marooned at home, and building an Ark'

Apart from people who were marooned at home and building an ark, there was precious little movement anywhere, with almost half of Britain under water after the wettest Autumn in our history, - or at least, since records began 225 years ago.

All of Derbyshire’s major rivers burst their banks and were included in the unprecedented statistics issued by the Environment Agency with 60 severe flood alerts throughout the land.

It may not quite have been a flood of biblical proportions but the Great Flood of 2000 AD which brought virtually the entire country to a standstill and caused millions of pounds worth of damage also heralded the dawning of a new age - according to leading scientists who prophesy that it will be the first of many.

This, they say, is the direct result of global warming - caused by emissions from the further burning of fossil fuels. Environmentalists lay the blame mainly on the `infernal’ combustion engine, but the diminishing of the natural habitat on a global scale has also played a major role in the current climatic changes that are being experienced the world over.

So what are the facts? Are we in danger of living in a future `Waterworld’?

Will the Crooked Spire become a landmark for shipping – and perhaps in a hundred years time, - Chesterfield become the Capital of England?

Well, let’s examine the known scientific facts.

A number of years ago the United Nations appointed an Inter-governmental Panel consisting of 2000 of the worlds leading scientists to study climate change and it’s effects. They are unanimous in their verdict, recently presented to the World Summit on Climate Change in Brussels.

They recognise that Global warming is no longer mere speculation, it is a scientifically proved fact; and it is happening NOW.

Here are some facts:

a) There is open water at the North Pole for the first time in human history.

b) The Arctic ice sheet has been reduced by almost 50% in the last 40 years.

c) The Greenland ice sheet is melting at the rate of eleven cubic miles a year.

d) When just one sixth of the West Antarctic ice sheet melts, world sea- levels will rise by one metre.

e) This rise in sea-levels will flood many of the world’s major cities and swamp more than 30% of the world’s agricultural land.

f) Large parts of the south of England would be inundated, with London being submerged beneath the North Sea.

However, scientists predict that the rise in sea levels will actually be much more dramatic!

Imagine the scene: large amphibious reptilies basking on the mud banks around Matlock; shark-like creatures with teeth like a crocodile cruising around the coral reefs of Chelmorton - and a blue expanse of ocean as far as the eye can see stretching all the way to Scotland in the north, and to the island of Charnwood in the south.

Impossible? You may think so, - but it has happened before on at least four previous occasions, so what’s to say that it can’t happen again?

Somewhere in the primordial past, around 340 million years ago, this whole area was covered by a shallow sea whose sunlit floor was forested by stone lilies, and whose reefs were made up of myriads of small polyps.

An abundance of microscopic molluscs, lamp shells, worms and goniatites fed on the deep mud banks and together with the decaying stone lilies, added to the calcerous deposits laid down on the sea floor. Underwater volcanoes spewed lava and ash into the waters above and this, mixed with the decaying deposits eventually became the Carboniferous Limestone which today forms the Derbyshire upland.

The northern shores of the Carboniferous Limestone sea lay 200 miles away and stretched across the centre of Scotland, which was then part of the great North Atlantic continent, drained by large rivers flowing southward. Mud and grit were washed as far south as the Peak District and over millions of years this was transformed into the Edale shales.

Owing to undulations in the earth’s crust the land rose and fell alternately. Mud banks formed and quickly became forested by tall lepidodendron trees and numerous ferns. Over long periods of time this vegetation became a thick layer of peat, and later still was compressed into coal.

This sequence of events was repeated a number of times and over 60 million years a massive series of grit layers interspersed with shale and coal attained a depth of over 5000 feet.

Pressures in the earth’s crust between Britain and Northern France caused a massive upthrust at the surface, which resulted in the Peak District rocks crumpling into a series of narrow folds.

Later during the first Mesozoic era the whole of this area was buried under the waste washed down from distant mountains, and then during the dry and arid climate of the Triassic period, in it was buried beneath a vast plain swept by hot winds and dust storms.

As the land moved, the plains subsided to below sea level.

This event brought the second Mesozoic era, known as the Jurassic Period, when reptiles proliferated and new creatures became abundant upon the earth.

At the end of the Jurassic Period this area of Britain subsided and the sea flowed in, covering the whole land except for the highlands of Scotland and Wales.

The Mesozoic Era lasted about 120 million years, during which the Peak District lay beneath an ever increasing cover of limestone, sandstones, clay, chalk – and sea.

Then the British land mass began to rise again heralding the Cainozoic Era. The uprising was most marked along a line running northwards through the Peak District and Pennine region and this formed an elongated domed island. The crest of the dome acted as a natural water divide and many streams flowed down its slopes.

As the sea floor continued to rise, the boundaries of land were extended outwards in all directions. The streams broadened out across the lengthening plains as they rose slowly out of the water. Uniting with one another they merged into large rivers flowing to the sea – which by this time was far away.

Channels were excavated by moving water and these widened into valleys. The water washed away vast quantities of rock, first the chalk and then in turn the Jurassic and Traissic rocks, until the original carboniferous limestone dome was eventually exposed.

Thus the carving of the modern Peak District had begun and continued throughout the Cainozoic age, - but it still had 100 million years to go, which encompassed the Great Ice Age, before stone age man appeared in this part of the world!

So, what about global warming, raised sea-levels, flooded landscapes - and sharks around the Crooked Spire? Well, what about it?

Sorry mate, - but we’ve heard it all before!

 

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