Monday, 14 February 2011

A wetter Poland?

Driving down to Dobra today, Eddie and I were struck by the flooding and the large amounts of water standing in fields along our way south. The Pilica, the Radomka, indeed all the rivers between Warsaw and the Świętokrzyskie hills had spilled over, flooding adjacent meadows and woods. Even on higher ground, the water table was exceedingly high; we saw many extensive puddles and flooded fields. I am concerned that climate change is beginning to make itself felt in central Poland in the form of raised ground water levels, localised flooding and associated crop failure.

Over the weekend, there was a fascinating series of events at the Dom Spotkań z Historią centred around the launch of a new book about Poland's eastern pre-war borderlands - the Kresy. I have a long fascination with Polesie - that vast expanse of wetlands that was a notable feature of the central Kresy (today the borderlands between Belarus and Ukraine). Among the films shown during the weekend was one showing the poverty of peasants living in the Polesie wetlands in the photography of Józef Szymańczyk.

Though the scale of the flooding is nowhere near the scale of the Polesie wetlands, looking at the drowned fields made me think that a few decades of snowy winters, wet springs and summers could turn Poland's central plains into a Polesie-like swamp, disastrous for agriculture.

Let's hope for a drier spring and summer than the one we had last year.

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