Although science has moved on a bit since the time of Aristotle, the Ancient Greeks were certainly on to something when they identified the four “elements” – earth, fire, air and water – as fundamental building blocks of our world. We would be pretty stuck without any one of these. And water is at least as important as each of the other three.
Growth of every kind and indeed our mere survival depend on the presence of water, and you only have to be short of water for a very brief period to become vividly aware of the part in plays in our everyday lives. So it is no surprise that the bible and Shakespeare both use water as a symbol of renewal and of life itself.
But weather is also a classic case of the truth that you can have too much of a good thing – and we have certainly had too much of it in West Dorset over recent months.
This is why I found myself last week – as in several of the previous weeks – meeting constituents who have been suffering from too much water in the wrong place near to them.
Trudging around in the company of engineers and residents, you very quickly begin to sense the astonishing power of nature and the vast costs that we humans face in trying to contain its forces.
As a result of the experiences of these weeks, I have at least understood why the jargon refers to “flood alleviation” rather than “flood prevention”. Alleviate we can and must. Prevent, I fear, we cannot.