Written by Andy Rowlands
On New Year’s Day, The Guardian, that bastion of accurate reporting, started the year by carrying an article entitled ‘Sands of time are slipping away for England’s crumbling coasts amid climate crisis‘
The article begins innocuously enough by saying:
From a distance, the beach at Winterton-on-sea in Norfolk looks like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, with hundreds of grey bodies lying motionless across the sand. On closer inspection, it becomes clear they are not fallen soldiers but a huge colony of seals taken to the land for pupping season.
It’s an amazing annual sight that draws tourists and nature-lovers from across the country, but another process is taking place that is pushing people back – the growing threat of coastal erosion. Just along from where the armies of grey seals lay with their white pups, there used to stand the Dunes Cafe, a much-loved beach facility with a large and loyal clientele.
It then abruptly changes tack, to climate alarmism:
A year ago it was demolished to prevent its imminent collapse as a result of land lost to sea and storms. The ground where it stood is, like the cafe itself, no longer there. It’s a story of disappearance taking place all along the eastern coast of England, but particularly in East Anglia, that bulbous protrusion jutting into the North Sea.
That climate change and rising sea levels take their toll on the landscape is an old story, but one with an urgent new twist. “The sea level’s been rising since the last ice age, 20,000 years ago or so,” says Jim Hall, professor of climate and environmental risk at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. “And it’s going faster. We’re probably not seeing its effect very much yet on the coast, though we will in the future.”
At least Professor Hall got one thing right; after an ice age sea levels rise. Anyone with half a brain knows this.
A 2020 report by the Committee on Climate Change, on which Hall sits as an expert on coastal erosion and flooding, found 1.2m homes at significant risk of flooding and a further 100,000 subject to coastal erosion by 2080 – which, although it sounds safely distant, will be within the lifetime of most of those born so far this century.
Two years ago, the US-based climate change research group Climate Central went further. It produced a map showing areas of the UK at risk of being underwater by 2050. They included sections of north Norfolk, all of the Lincolnshire coast and much of Cambridgeshire, along with parts of East Yorkshire, Merseyside and the Bristol area. According to the group, this would happen even if “moderate” attempts were made to combat climate change.
So whatever we do, many areas of the UK will become uninhabitable by 2050 due to being permanently flooded.
The area around The Wash is low-lying land, and has always been prone to flooding.
The Climate Central image:
Such predictions are based on highly complex, and disputed, modelling, yet there are significant warning signs that such an outcome is growing rapidly more plausible. Last month, scientists monitoring the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, an ice shelf the size of Great Britain, warned it is in danger of collapse.
How many times have we heard this?
“It’s being melted from below by warm ocean waters, causing it to lose its grip on the underwater mountain,” said Peter Davis from British Antarctic Survey and the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration.
He said research suggested that the ice shelf will begin to break apart within two decades. Should there be a complete collapse, it would lead to a highly consequential rise in sea levels of 60cm. That may be a worst-case scenario, but it will almost certainly have a notable impact on the British coastline.
In a sense Norfolk is a real-time lesson in how weather and sea can drastically alter a landscape. After the Dunes Cafe was dismantled, a chef called Alex Clare set up a mobile silver Airstream cafe to cater to locals and visitors at the car park next to where the cafe once stood. He’s had to move the Airstream four times in eight months, as sections of the dunes on which the car park sits have collapsed into the sea under pressure from storms and high tides.
Hooray, it said weather not climate.
“In the last two weeks,” Clare told me, “a strip about as long as this caravan has disappeared. You hear about erosion, but you don’t know what it means, what it involves, until you witness it. And it’s a shock to see the physical transformation.”
The car park owner has tried to slow the erosion by laying down large concrete blocks on the beach, but it’s the definition of a losing battle.
Winterton’s coast possesses a bleak beauty, enhanced by the fact that the village sits back from the sea, behind a broad wall of dunes. By contrast, at Hemsby, a mile or so south, the town, with its amusement arcades and fairgrounds, stretches all the way to the shoreline. Four years ago, there was a line of seven chalets close to the edge of the sandy cliffs that drop down to the beach.
They all had to be knocked down as the land beneath them began to fall into the sea. The local council is looking at sea defences, but the only workable answer involves large-scale investment and a major process of sandscaping. That is what took place at Bacton, 15 miles north along the coast from Winterton.
A four-mile-long dune was built to protect Bacton Terminal, which supplies around a third of the UK’s gas and had been moving steadily closer to the cliff edge, literally and metaphorically. Designed by the Dutch engineering company Royal HaskoningDHV, it involved the placement of 1.8 million cubic metres of sand along the beaches near the terminal.
The design relies on the sand being shifted into place by wind, waves and tides. The Dutch are world leaders in land reclamation and protection, having over the years reclaimed more than a sixth of Holland’s landmass from the sea.
It should be noted this work in Holland was not to protect the land from sea-level rises, but because much of the country lies below sea-level, and was prone to tidal flooding.
“In the long run,” says Professor Hall, “any coast protection is temporary. We’ve been doing engineering to protect the coast for a very long time. Almost half of the UK coast has some kind of protection – sea walls, revetments, promenades, that kind of thing. The Victorians were inveterate promenade builders.”
Such protections don’t stop the sea rising. They merely fix, for a while, the point of the shore profile. At Happisburgh, near Bacton, wooden revetments did that job, until they collapsed 20 years ago, leading to a sudden and damaging exposure to the sea.
“Once you lose [the protection], there’s a lot of pent-up erosion capacity,” says Hall.
Although there is growing media coverage of coastal erosion, it’s as Alex Clare said: knowledge of the thing isn’t the same as experiencing it. “There’s a bit more recognition that the sea level is rising fast,” says Hall. “But I don’t think coastal communities have really understood what the future holds.” He believes there should be an “honest conversation” between government, local government and the affected communities.
There is indeed a lot of media coverage of coastal erosion, the mainstream media has to maintain the fearmongering.
While the money required to protect cities like London and Hull will have to be found, that’s not likely with isolated villages. When I visited Norfolk last month, the locals seemed fatalistic or in denial, pointing out that the situation was worse somewhere else, either up or down the coast. As I drove back, it began to rain, and that night the weather deteriorated.
The next day there was a large landslide at Mundesley, near Bacton, with a huge chunk of the cliff face collapsing on to the beach. Above it, houses stood on the precipice, their future looking about as secure as Norwich’s position in the Premier League.
Coastal erosion along the East Coast of the UK is nothing new.
As Pete Revell, station manager at Bacton HM Coastguard, said, Mundesley was viewed as stable by comparison with nearby Happisburgh, and the landslide came as “a bit of a surprise”. It certainly shocked local resident Antony Lloyd, who said he was “very nervous and agitated about any further incidents.” He was finding it hard to sleep and thought he would have to move.
Of course, the occasional landfall or loss of beachside chalets is hardly cause for national panic.
Absolutely correct, it is not any cause for national panic, so why make it seem much worse than it is?
But like canaries in a coal mine, the inhabitants of the villages strung along Norfolk’s shifting coastline are a warning of a worrying future. There are processes under way whose outcomes are unavoidable, and those that can potentially be arrested. But it will require unblinking foresight and long-term action, neither of which are our national strong suits.
If you take the path north from Winterton’s beach car park you come to the roped-off seal sanctuary. Beyond, seals and their pups lie still and vulnerable in the dunes, hundreds of yards from the shore, as if waiting for the sea to rescue them. And come it will, not now or next year, but much sooner than we care to think.
Oh yes, say the climate alarmist ‘scientists’, who either actually believe it, or are threatened with having their funding stopped if they don’t.
Like all Guardian articles, it ends by claiming to be totally independant and trustworthy, which is Joke Of The Day.
The article focuses on the East Coast, and the West Coast gets not a single mention.
Why? Because the West Coast is rising as the UK slowly tips over due to normal geologic forces. If coastal erosion were such a serious problem cause by a changing climate, it would be happening on every coast around the UK.
Beaches such as Saundersfoot and Woolacombe shoal gently, so the tides have a large range. At Woolacombe at low tide, the sea is almost half a mile out.
Harlech Castle in Wales was built right on the coast at the end of the 13th Century, on top of the 200-foot high Harlech Dome of solid rock, and the remains of the ‘Watergate’ are still visible, from where the castle could be supplied by sea in the event of a seige.
Over the centuries since then, the sea has gradually retreated as the land rose, leaving the castle now a mile from the shore, as you can see in the screenshot from Google Maps below:
You can see the original coastline as the darker green line that angles towards the top right of the image.
This kind of blatant and deliberate fearmongering like this annoys me intensely, and the indoctrinated will lap it up.
This June 2020 comment from Australian climate skeptic Jennifer Marohasy, who was director of the Australian Environment Foundation until 2008, is rather apt here:
“The Guardian newspaper is the nastiest of publications, employing the world’s whitest and most vindictive propagandists: male and female.
For so many years it has targeted, and ran vendettas against, any academic who happens to be sceptical of catastrophic human-caused global warming.
Graham Redfearn just makes stuff-up. Yet the most educated of our opinion leaders believe him, often on the basis it was published by The Guardian!”
See more here: theguardian.com
Header image: Dylan Garcia Photography / Alamy
About the author: Andy Rowlands is a university graduate in space science and British Principia Scientific International researcher, writer and editor who co-edited the new climate science book, ‘The Sky Dragon Slayers: Victory Lap‘
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