Day 9 Ratcliffe Trial- Flooding and harnesses

Tagged as: climate_action environmentalism ratcliffe_on_trial

This afternoon saw the final expert witness take the stand. Dr Geoff Meaden is a Geographer from Kent, who currently consults for the UN. His evidence was wide-ranging, but began with an explanation of the difference between local weather events and the global climate.

As an example that must have been present in the minds of the jury, he explained that the recent heavy snowfall is to do with evaporated sea water meeting with icy arctic winds and immediately turning to snow. Asked whether this in any way contradicted the fact that the planet is warming up he said no, absolutely not.

His main body of evidence focused on flooding and its relation to climate change, particularly in the UK. He described in detail the increasing occurrence of unusually heavy rain in the UK and the rising risk of flooding in the East Midlands. As a recent example, he spoke of the flooding in Pakistan, where water levels in one place rose 7 metres within 5 minutes!

Flooding is not just about where the rain falls, but where it goes after it makes landfall. For example rain in the Pennines falls on hard rock which is unable to absorb it into the ground, so it instead flows into river systems which subsequently burst their banks affected towns and villages downstream.

Events took a bizarre twist today as the prosecutor, Felicity Gerry, gave a lengthy explanation of an experiment involving a pole that was buried underground in The Fens. It has slowly been revealed over time, as the soft soil has become compressed and eroded. Dr Meaden clarified that this had been an experiment to measure the effects of farming practices and nothing to do with global warming, but Felicity Gerry seemed to suggest that this would have been a more useful way for the defendants to have taken action on climate change!

Proceedings then returned to one of the defendants who spoke about one aspect of the plan: shutting down the conveyors and preventing them from taking coal into the boilers. In a detailed description of the safety precautions taken, a rope access harness was shown to the court. It was so laden with equipment that the officer who had the job of holding it up was clearly struggling while the defendant explained all of the clips, ropes and straps to the jury!

The defence case will continue with more witnesses tomorrow, and it is expected that the jury will retire to consider their verdict towards the end of the week.