Breaking News! Seventh First Climate Refugees Discovered!

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Well, my heart fell when I saw the recent BBC article which proudly proclaimed that the people of Kivalina were slated to become “America’s first climate change refugees”

bbc kivalinaFigure 1. The Alaskan native village of Kivalina. SOURCE: BBC

My heart fell for three reasons. First, because once again we are being presented with natural, expected changes in a shifting, unstable barrier island that are falsely claimed to be the result of “climate change”. Folks, barrier islands are just a pile of sand, and they erode, change, and alter their shape with every change in the ocean that built them. As the residents of the barrier islands of the US East Coast regularly discover (although apparently to their infinitely renewed shock and never-lessening total surprise and outrage), when a storm wanders through their neighborhood, the ocean is more than happy to totally reshape any barrier island at any time. The ocean thinks nothing of cutting a barrier island in two, it’s an everyday occurrence around the planet. And the ocean particularly messes with a location like Kivalina, which as you can see from the article is right at the main channel … where all of the water goes through with every tide, where runoff from a huge storm has to force its way out to the ocean, and where as a result the erosive forces are both the strongest and the most unpredictable.

Second, I was bummed that they’d built such a joke of a seawall, because as the photo clearly shows and the article mentions, the seawall there is having unexpected effects which are not all beneficial. As is common with such amateur attempts to tame the sea, it’s building up sand at one end and being eaten away and undermined at the other. No surprise there, except that this was the Army Corps of Engineers and it was built in 2008 … as I discuss below, they are way, way behind the times if that’s their idea of how to protect Kivalina.

The third reason I was saddened was that I immediately suspected the fine hand of some melanin-deficient historical BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) official in the original location of the village. The BIA has been the cause of huge grief for just about all of the people under its jurisdiction, so why not Kivalina? Plus, I doubted greatly that any group of nomadic northern hunters would choose to live right there, they’re generally much smarter than that.

When you look at the location of Kivalina on Google Earth, you have to say, what on earth were the BIA thinking? Never mind, they weren’t.

ge kivalina 1Figure 2. Overview of the entire island on which Kivalina is located, in the winter, with ice on the ocean. Note the sediment being discharged out the channel by Kivalina, and the areas of reduced ice outside both channels through the barrier islands.

In my previous post on this subject, aptly yclept the “Sixth First Climate Refugees“, it was pointed out that the Fifth First Climate Refugees in the Alaskan village of Shishmaref was located on a barrier island because they’d been moved to that spot by the US government. Years ago, there was a big push to stop the traditional residents from being nomads. Nomads drive governments nuts, you can’t control them. So the government very foolishly insisted the people settle in a terrible location, the barrier island where the town of Shishmaref is now located. Now, nomadic traditional people are far from stupid. You can assume that they were all too familiar with the fragility and changeability of barrier islands, because they only put temporary hunting camps on such islands, and wisely lived on the mainland behind the protection that such barrier islands until they were forced offshore. And the same forced resettlement was the story for the Sixth First Climate Refugees, those in Newtok, Alaska.

So when I saw the picture above, my first thought was, “BIA strikes again”. And sadly, my guess was right. The NANA, the Alaska Native Corporation of the northern peoples, tells the story of Kivalina on their web site:

HISTORY

For more than 1,500 years, the barrier reef where Kivalina is located has been a stopping-off place for seasonal travelers between the Arctic coastal areas and the Kotzebue Sound region. In 2009 human remains and artifacts were discovered near Kivalina representing the Ipiutak, a non-whaling Eskimo culture that was present in northwestern Alaska from the 2nd to 6th centuries A.D. The Ipiutak people inhabited the coastal region only in the spring and summer months, moving inland for the rest of the year.

According to elder knowledge, the original permanent settlement known as Kivalina was located on the coast of the mainland, a few miles north of Kivalliik Channel. The people of Kivalina, like the Ipiutak before them, utilized the barrier reef only as seasonal hunting grounds, making camp there in warm-weather months.The first recorded history of Kivalina occurred in 1847 when a Russian naval officer mistook a seasonal hunting camp at the north end of Kivalina Lagoon—a few miles from the location of modern-day Kivalina—as a permanent settlement, the name of which he logged as “Kivualinagmut.”

From 1896 to 1902, United States federal programs transported reindeer to the Kivalina area and funded the training of some residents as reindeer herders.

Kivalina was relocated to its current location in 1905 when the Bureau of Indian Affairs repeated the error of the Russian naval officer by mistaking a seasonal camp on the barrier reef for a year-round village. The BIA in short order built a school on the southern tip of the island and declared that any inhabitants of the barrier reef and surrounding region who did not enroll their children would be imprisoned. This order compelled the people of the original Kivalina as well as communities inland and north and south along the coast to migrate to the Kivalina created by the BIA.

Like I figured, the locals were far too smart to build permanent villages on a barrier island. They “utilized the barrier reef only as seasonal hunting grounds“. So the village is in such a dangerous, shifting location because white guys with guns threatened to throw anyone who didn’t move there in jail … charming.

Now, in response to the predictable erosion and change in the barrier island, the inhabitants of Kivalina sued ExxonMobil, claiming that CO2 was the cause of their problems … and wisely the Supreme Court threw it out.

The fact remains, however, that just as with Shishmaref and Newtok, the cause of the problems are human actions, although they have nothing to do with CO2. All three villages are in ridiculously unstable, shifting, dangerous locations for the same reason—they were rounded up by the BIA and forced to settle there.

So if I came from one of those villages, I’d want to bring suit as well … but I’d want to bring suit against the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Of course, I assume that in the usual Catch-22 fashion, you can’t do that, because the Feds are immune to most suits … grrr. I can see why the Kivalina folks are upset. I’m just afraid that they don’t have a lot of choices, and as a result they sued the wrong folks.

There is one possibility, however. Modern coastal engineering has progressed since the “just build a vertical wall” style of attempted protection represented in the picture above. The modern practice is to use cement-filled tubes of geotextile fabric that run perpendicular to the beach along the bottom of the ocean. These don’t attempt to stop the ocean, like the vertical seawall pictured above. Here’s the challenge.

Anyone wanting to change the shape of a barrier island first needs to realize that the lovely sand beach is not a solid object. It is a river of sand. Sand is constantly being picked up and moved by each and every wave, either up or down the beach. Now, if you put in a vertical seawall like the one shown in the picture, when the waves hit the seawall their energy is not dispersed. Instead, the energy is reflected down the beach. You can see the outcome in Figure 1.

First, note that in the more distant section of the island just beyond the far end of the seawall, the beach is much wider than after the start of the seawall. For the reason, look at the direction that the waves are striking. The problem is that instead of the wave energy being absorbed by the beach, it is being reflected to run parallel the seawall as a long-shore current. You can see how over time this long-shore current has scoured away the sand from the far end of the seawall, and it has deposited it at the near end.

And eventually, the seawall will be undercut entirely, because a vertical seawall also directs some of the wave energy straight downwards at the base of the wall. This scours the sand out directly under the seawall itself, and will eventually lead to its destruction and collapse. The people up in Shishmaref the Fourth First Climate Refugees, have exactly the same problem. There, a poorly designed seawall has shifted the wave energy to where it’s now eating away the town itself. Seawalls just move the wave energy parallel to the coast.

With the modern practice, however, no such vertical seawall is built. Here’s a picture of such an installation, just after construction:

geotextile tubesFigure 3. Three concrete-filled tubes of geotextile fabric, two directly on the sand, and a third one on top of those two.

Note that instead of going along the shoreline, the concrete-filled tubes go perpendicular to the beach, straight offshore into deeper water. Now, remember that a beach is essentially a river of sand. Here’s the important fact—the amount of sand that can be picked up by the water depends entirely on the speed of the water. Fast-moving water can carry more sand than slow-moving water.

So as a corollary of that, if you can slow down the water that is moving the river of sand along parallel to the shore, it will drop its load of sand, and your beach will fill in and stabilize further out into the ocean. And that’s what the tubes full of concrete do. They don’t try to stop the water. They just slow it down a bit, as though the water stubs its toe whenever it goes over one of these tubes. When it slows, it drops its sand, filling in the area in between parallel tubes. A year or so after the picture above was taken, the concrete-filled tubes you see were totally buried in the sand, and the beach extended out well beyond the point of land. Counter-intuitive in a way, because there’s no seawall parallel to the coast at all … but it works like a champ, because it works with nature, not against it like a vertical seawall tries to do. Here’s a before-and-after picture of a larger project:

saving a scenic drive

Figure 4. The waves were undercutting the bluffs, threatening the highway running along the top of the cliff. The system shown in Figure 3 was used all along the coastline. You can see parts of a couple of the concrete-filled tubes perpendicular to the land near the foot of the bluff at the lower right in the second picture.

So while the existing seawall is failing, that doesn’t mean that the folks in Kivalina are out of options. Here’s the link to a main company doing this type of installation, Holmberg Technologies. The pictures above are from their website. (I have no connection with them.) If I lived in Kivalina, I’d get all my ducks in a row tomorrow, and I’d have Holmberg’s on the phone tomorrow. I’d pitch it as Holmberg’s chance to a) get some great publicity, and b) to help to right a historical wrong. The Native Corporation might even be such that Holmberg could get a tax write-off for any contributions, I’d investigate that first. Then I’d call Holmbergs, and offer that the village would provide all the labor, and pay for the concrete, if Holmberg would do the coastal engineering and provide the special geotextile fabric tubes and oversee the project. I’d offer to put their name up all over the project, and mention them prominently in all of the publicity. Can’t hurt to ask … and if they say yes, then I’d hit up the nearest concrete company to provide the concrete as a donation for the same reason. Hey, why not? Could happen. You often don’t get what you ask for, I know that … but it’s rare to get something you don’t ask for, so it’s sure worth a few phone calls. Even if Holmberg says no, I’d get an estimate from them and a plan, asking them for their best possible rates for the reasons stated above, publicity and righting a wrong. Then I’d go out and raise the money, somewhere, somehow, to hire them to do it. See if Crowley Marine or another tug company might contribute towards barging the materials there. Looking at the beach in Figure 4, you can see that by Holmberg’s standards Kivalina would be a fairly small project … just in the middle of nowhere.

Now, the best option is still for the village to move, because no matter what they do to their island, it’s still just a bog-standard barrier island, which means a shifting pile of sand in an incredibly powerful ocean. There are no guarantees in that situation, even with the best coastal engineering advice on the planet.

For example, note in Figure 2 that at the ends of the island where Kivalina is located,  both of the channels are located directly across from the main river outlet on the mainland. This is a common situation with barrier islands. Gaps in the islands across from the main rivers allow floodwaters running of the land to go straight out to sea.

Now, look at all of the abandoned channels in the mainland … and consider that in the past those have been the main channel, and could be again. Not “if” but when that happens, it will likely cut through or greatly change Kivalina’s island. So staying is problematic in the long term.

But given the cost of moving the village all at once, If I Ran The Zoo I think what I’d do is first hustle up the donations and the $ to install the new concrete-filled tubes to build up the protective beach on the seaside of Kivalina. That will buy some time. Then I’d pick a good spot for the village on the mainland, maybe even the spot of the ancestral village if that’s a possibility. I’d do all of the necessary local ceremonies to bless the choice, get everyone involved so it’s a true community grassroots decision. I’d divide it up into lots based on what the locals say is fair, plenty of different ways to do that, and offer them to the villagers to move to. There’s got to be better land owned by the tribe or controlled by the BIA somewhere in the area. And that way, over the next decades the population could slowly shift to their new homes, without an immediate costs of millions of dollars.

But all in all, there’s no real good answer. Tragically, it’s more of the usual kind of pain and suffering that trails the actions of the BIA like a bad smell. They have been highly corrupt and totally inefficient since their inception. They’ve screwed their “wards” out of millions and millions of dollars. They’ve taken children from their parents and forced them to stop speaking their native languages. The list of their misdeeds is very long, broken treaties and false promises and government obfuscation and embezzlement at each new page in their sordid history. Every Indian or Eskimo I’ve ever known has said that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is nothing but a nest of crooks and thieves, and in my reading I’ve never found anything to contradict that in the slightest …

Anyhow, that’s the story of the Seventh First Climate Refugees. Turns out that they aren’t climate refugees at all, they are BIA refugees. Just another in a long parade of Alaskan and other tribes who have been shafted by the BIA, forcibly settled in a totally unsuitable location, and as a result left with few good options.

Best regards to all, and as a melanin-deficient person myself, other than my poor ideas about fixing the situation, all I have to offer to the good people of Kivalina are my apologies for the historical actions of people who looked like me, and my sincere wishes for success.

w.

PS—BBC, your climate reporting is pathetic. Doesn’t anyone there think to check up on some dewy-eyed reporter gushing on about the tragic fate of the latest batch of pseudo-refugees? Missing the facts in this story would have been understandable a decade ago, but in 2013, you guys are a running joke. Something on the order of …

How many BBC climate editors does it take to change a light bulb?

No one knows, it appears their lights went out years ago and haven’t been replaced since …

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106 thoughts on “Breaking News! Seventh First Climate Refugees Discovered!

  1. ‘PS—BBC, your climate reporting is pathetic. ‘
    Only if you amuse that its accuracy rather than advocacy their trying to achieve.
    Chances are it was just a straight repeat of story told to them by someone looking to help out ‘the cause’. The BBC environmental team has little will to go out investigating stories when they can sit back had have their friends in the green movement bring them to them already ‘packaged’.

  2. I’d be even more worried about a tsunami, a long way to exit if any warning happens. if there’s an earthquake near the Aleutians or elsewhere in the Pacific. Of course, I am assuming it’s somewhere near there.

  3. Those tubes immediately reminded me of breakwaters. Generally Victorian in origin in the UK I think, perhaps our ancestors knew more that we’d like to admit.

  4. The BBC is a sick Joke and only survives because they are funded by threat of criminal conviction to those who refuse to pay for its innacurate, wilfully misleading, biased and unchecked reporting. Worse it has been exposed as a protector and haven for paedophiles. I fully support shutting the BBC down.

  5. Typo: “Now, look at all of the abandoned c”

    [Yes, we have seen that. and the author needs to finish that sentence. Mod]

    [Indeed, it was sleepy out last night. Fixed, thanks. -w.]

  6. The Netherlands are below sea level. They protect their dikes with tree trunks spaced at 2 feet, vertical erected over a length of 100 to 400 feet. Distance between the perpendicular orientation varied from 200 to 300 feet. It works very well.

  7. It is becoming almost impossible to watch a BBC generated program without some reference to ‘climate change’.

    It is almost like there is some kind of camp commissar there, who will not allow the funding of any new programs without this reference. The BBC’s top heavy, hugely expensive, and largely amateurish ‘management’ has allowed/encouraged financial waste and a left wing bias to flourish there for the past couple of decades.

    In reference to indigenous peoples, nowadays their greatest foes are the melanin challenged, liberal lawyers who have somehow come to over-represent their interests. And when it all goes wrong, as it usually does, a scapegoat is needed. In this case, that scapegoat is climate change – not the natural one which has been around for hundreds of millions of years, but the fantasy one supposedly caused by man’s CO2 emissions.

  8. Hi Willis

    Early on the report mentioned the Ipiatuk. Their culture was far more advanced than is admitted by the BBC who are little more than AGW advocates these days. (It could have something to do with their pension funds being so heavily invested in ‘green’ technologies)

    Anyhow, the Ipiatuk buildings seem to have been permanent not just for the summer. Below is some information about them dating from the related discovery during the 1940′s.

    “The corner of Alaska nearest Siberia was probably man’s first threshold to the Western Hemisphere. So for years archeologists have dug there for a clue to America’s prehistoric past. Until last year, all the finds were obviously Eskimo. Then Anthropologists Froelich G. Rainey of the University of Alaska and two collaborators struck the remains of a town, of inciedible size and mysterious culture. Last week in Natural History Professor Rainey, still somewhat amazed, described this lost Arctic city.

    It lies at Ipiutak on Point Hope, a bleak sandspit in the Arctic Ocean, where no trees and little grass survive endless gales at 30° below zero. But where houses lay more than 2,000 years ago, underlying refuse makes grass and moss grow greener. The scientists could easily discern traces of long avenues and hundreds of dwelling sites. A mile long, a quarter-mile wide, this ruined city was perhaps as big as any in Alaska today (biggest: Juneau, pop. 5,700).

    On the Arctic coast today an Eskimo village of even 250 folk can catch scarcely enough seals, whales, caribou to live on. What these ancient Alaskans ate is all the more puzzling because they seem to have lacked such Arctic weapons as the Eskimo harpoon.
    Yet they had enough leisure to make many purely artistic objects, some of no recognizable use. Their carvings are vaguely akin to Eskimo work but so sophisticated and elaborate as to indicate a relation with some centre of advanced culture — perhaps Japan or southern Siberia —certainly older than the Aztec or Mayan.

    This link leads to the Academy of science report of the same year regarding the Ipiutak culture described above

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1078291

    —– —— —
    I have been in touch with the University of Alaska as I eventually hope to write a piece on the Ipiatuk culture. Unfortunately during the war a shipload of their artefacts sank in a storm and still lie at the bottom of the sea, so our knowledge of them does not seem to have advanced much.
    tonyb

  9. The elaboration on coastal engineering practices in appreciated.

    The BBC is not accountable for its actions (no one in the CAGW echo chamber is) so they do as they please without a worry, no matter how absurd or bizarre the claim. If they get it right, great, if not, shrug. It’s like spam. Even one mark every million blanks makes the venture worth it.

  10. Another stunningly well informed article by Willis. It is not just the BBC, why are the newspapers not rushing to publish his writing and why when I read the newspapers do I come away feeling I have just read another press release instead of news and analysis?

    Thank you, I really appreciate your posts Willis

  11. Willis, the BBC situation is much worse than you think.

    Stephen Sachur isn’t some “dewy-eyed reporter” but is one of the BBCs most senior investigative jounalists. There is hardly anyone above him in the journalist food-chain at the Beeb that could influence his imaginitive creations.

    He is exactly the type of person who you would expect would uncover the problems created by the BIA, but clearly the green-washing is too deeply ingrained for him to even consider an alterative explanation.

  12. Strewth! Figure 2 would be enough for anyone to work out that building a settlement there is, well, a disaster just waiting to happen and building sea walls is just an exercise in futility. If you use Google maps and zoom out so that you can see 30-40km of the coast, it’s utterly crazy to build a settlement there, or anywhere along the the whole length. Apparently population ~375!!! Someone above mentioned a tsunami risk after a quake, I believe that might be possible. The North American plate interfaces with the Eurasian plate north of Russia under the East Siberian Sea.

  13. “So the village is in such a dangerous, shifting location because white guys with guns threatened to throw anyone who didn’t move there in jail … charming.”

    Please Willis, permit me to rephrase that to make a point:

    “So the world is in such a dangerous, shifting situation because officials with guns threaten to throw anyone who doesn’t comply in jail … charming.

    That is the crux of the problem we all face right now. Government by force and coercion instead of governance by consent. When people internalize the innate immorality of rule by force – might is right – they see that the thugs who exercise dominion over us are no better than common thieves. They understand that a thief is a thief is a thief, regardless of whether he breaks into your property as an individual or threatens to come to your door wearing a badge and a brandishing a gun to force you to pay in the name of a collectivist entity.

    So yet again we see the moral hazard intrinsic to collectivist power. As well as its total inability to allocate scare resources wisely. The result? Not only visible (seen) destruction and damage, but invisible (unseen) costs on a far greater greater scale than any of us are capable of envisaging. Sobering.

    God help us…

  14. I was recently in St Michaels MD and saw a little climate change display at a local museum. A photographer went around recording the loss of various little islands. They were claiming something like losing 3 islands a week due to climate change. Sounds fishy though because you never hear this in the MSM. If one wealthy Wash DC citizen lost their precious little beach house on some Chesapeake bay island you know you’d hear about it.

  15. PS—BBC, your climate reporting is pathetic. Doesn’t anyone there think to check up on some dewy-eyed reporter gushing on about the tragic fate of the latest batch of pseudo-refugees? Missing the facts in this story would have been understandable a decade ago, but in 2013, you guys are a running joke. Something on the order of …
    How many BBC climate editors does it take to change a light bulb?
    No one knows, it appears their lights went out years ago and haven’t been replaced since …

    You’ve sure got their number, Willis!!!! They’ve been demonstrated as having over paid their executives, too many of them to boot, have been overpaying their star presenters compared with the privately financed ITV, they are heavily investing their pension funds in greenalist industries, are biased to the point of ridicule, in short, they wear the Emperors New Clothes daily!!!! Whenever they do a greenies piece, it is compulsory to start with the words, “We all know we have to reduce our carbon footprint………”, (Perfect Goebbels rhetoric) have negative views of nuclear power, oil, gas, & coal, but overly positive views on solar/wind power, neglecting to point out the ghastly rape & pillage of the landscape, by the latter, (backed up by ridiculous amounts of fossil fuelled diesel generation) of what was once, Great Britain!

  16. Two things.

    There is a big difference between being “under water” and being eroded away and that difference is obvious. I expect Willis is right on his erosion theory.

    Secondly I’m wondering whether this barrier island is in a “second phase” of ocean currents. The first phase was one where the island grew (or even “allowed to grow) and this second phase its now being eroded away. So is this “second phase” indicative of something bigger with the ocean currents or is it a localised effect ? Or some other reason existed for the island to come into effect I suppose?

  17. @ steveta_uk says:
    “Stephen Sachur isn’t some “dewy-eyed reporter” but is one of the BBCs most senior investigative jounalists.”

    Sackur is a typical leftie luvvie at the heart of AlJaBeeba, afflicted by a deep and perfectly fitting cranial rectal inversion in all green matters…

  18. As usual interesting and well written Willis.

    FYI, barriers perpendicular to the coast to trap sand were in use 70 years ago on the Southern California coast North of Santa Monica in the “Long Wharf” area (see http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/history/la-as-subject/how-santa-monica-almost-became-a-commercial-harbor.html ) where the sand beach is quite narrow. When the beach eroded during Winter storms, the ocean threatened the highway to the Malibu region farther North.

    As I recall, the barriers — built of wood and metal(?) — seemed to work. At least sand piled up on the upcurrent (North) sides and eroded a bit on the downcurrent (South) sides creating a modest hazard for surf fishermen, surfers, and overindulgent partiers. At least it wasn’t necessary to rebuild the Coast Highway every year.

    But the barriers didn’t address the underlying problem which was thought to be — when last I heard in the 1980s — that the SoCal beaches were part of a natural system wherein sand conveyed to the sea by streams migrated down the coast and eventually vanished into deep submarine canyons extending seaward from the next major stream to the South. Flood control largely shut down the sand sources which suggested that the beaches were in long term trouble with or without the barriers.

    I’d be curious to know the current thinking on those barriers, whether they are a good idea, and what their limitations are.

  19. “Now, in response to the predictable erosion and change in the barrier island, the inhabitants of Kivalina sued ExxonMobil, claiming that CO2 was the cause of their problems …”

    These people have come along way. They’ve forgotten what their ancestors knew and replaced this knowledge with the melanin-deficient kind.

  20. Willis great article But as usual what is really truly amazing this technique has been used by the Dutch and the Brits themselves for hundreds of years, just go for a walk a long the coast of Holland and the Eastern coast of Brittain and every 100 -150 yards there is a rock pier (imported from French and Swiss Quarries for Holland). Another technique that seems to work along similar lines are not straight up and down seawalls but walls shaped like a stair case, I build one of those ten years ago and it worked to perfection, local laws prevented me from going into the water beyond low water lines.

  21. I looked on the BBC page for the words ‘barrier island’ and ‘barrier’ but came up with zero. They did mention that

    It clings to a narrow spit of sand on the edge of the Bering Sea…

    In some ways you have to excuse Stephen Sackur, the author, as he is not an environmental journalist and probably doesn’t understand what is going on here. He has said:

    A good interview starts with exhaustive research and ends with intense exchanges that can be a revelation
    Stephen Sackur [BBC]

    Maybe he should have carried out “exhaustive research” before literally flying into new territory.

    BBC presenter Stephen Sackur quits the predictions business
    “Given my track record, the nation can breathe a sigh of relief,” he joshes during his family holiday. “Actually, given my unerring lack of accuracy, I predict the following: global economic disaster, London Olympics fiasco and plague and pestilence visiting Britain… Now we can all relax: it’ll never happen.“

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/8985074/BBC-presenter-Stephen-Sackur-quits-the-predictions-business.html

  22. groynes, probably derived from “groans” (the sounds heard all a long the beaches when they were being built.

  23. The Tube concept is not new. Indeed, you will find Jetties all up and down the coasts here. They are merely piles of rocks perpendicular to the beach. And for anyone that has been to “a beach” over an extended period of time, the slowing of the water and depositing of sand is very evident.

    But the US Government built the wall in 2008? What lobotomized BIA imbecile forced that move? I am in my 50s so I have seen jetties for over 50 years now.

  24. D$ says:
    August 9, 2013 at 1:01 am

    The BBC Pension fund is invested heavily in the green / renewable area…….

    It has also invested heavily in oil companies and tobacco such as BP, Shell, Occidental, Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco etc. Anyone who thinks the BBC cares a jot about global warming is living in fairy wonderland.
    BBC Pension – Top equity Investments at 31 March 2012

  25. ..Like I figured, the locals were far too smart to build permanent villages on a barrier island. They “utilized the barrier reef only as seasonal hunting grounds“. So the village is in such a dangerous, shifting location because white guys with guns threatened to throw anyone who didn’t move there in jail … charming….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You forgot to add the US government did this because White Settlers wanted the good land the natives were using. The US government has a long history of moving natives to useless good-for-nothing land and then when the natives can’t make a living there the whites would call them lazy…

  26. “If I lived in Kivalina, I’d get all my ducks in a row tomorrow, and I’d have Holmberg’s on the phone tomorrow. I’d pitch it as Holmberg’s….”

    Oh but it is much easier to become the helpless victim, hire some lawyers and let them force someone else to fix the problem. Unfortunately this is how society has evolved as people are constantly brainwashed into believing only government can help while all along, as Willis has pointed out, it is government that is usually the cause of the problem in the first place. Speaking of the Army Corps of Engineers, that agency has done so much damage to so many areas it is a wonder that they are still allowed to be called “engineers”.

  27. Eric Worrall says:
    August 9, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Are the army engineers really that stupid? Or did someone decide to build an ineffectual seawall? Scary thought.

    Perpendicular breakwaters have been in use in Australia since before I was born.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The were also in use in the USA. I can remember walking (or trying to scramble) on them as a child.

  28. Tom in Florida says: @ August 9, 2013 at 4:55 am
    … Speaking of the Army Corps of Engineers, that agency has done so much damage…
    >>>>>>>>>>
    Which is why they are not so fondly known as the Army Corpse of Engineers.

  29. I know one thing for certain. There looks like a beautiful left hand tube wave in that first photo. But if you want to surf it I suggest a very thick wetsuit.

  30. ***
    Willis says “Nomads drive governments nuts, you can’t control them.”
    ***

    Right. How are they expected to pay property taxes if they’re always moving around….

  31. Groynes were built on the British coast by the Roman Army almost 2000 years ago ,BBC learns very little from history.

  32. Get a Dutch polder engineer in there and Bob’s your uncle. I share what seems to be general outrage at the BBC. This story is ludicrous. Now the BOOB is in the US and has even managed to get its fingers in the Public Broadcasting System pie, which is subsidized by the American taxpayer.

  33. The Army Corp of Engineers has a predilection for creating environmental problems, but then they are only following their masters wishes for the most part such as their work in the Everglades.

    A number of people have mentioned jetties or breakwaters. Those are not the same as Holmbergs. The jetties block the flow of sand rather than slowing things down. While the upstream part of the beach builds up, the downstream part winds up being starved for sand.

    • @BarryW – I was one of the neophytes that mentioned jetties. Thanks for the explanation of the difference. You are indeed correct. The sand builds up on the wave side of the jetty, and is lost on the other side.

  34. “PS—BBC, your climate reporting is pathetic.”

    And it only costs me £145 a year for the privilege…

  35. “I know one thing for certain. There looks like a beautiful left hand tube wave in that first photo. But if you want to surf it I suggest a very thick wetsuit.”

    That wave is only a couple feet high so maybe your feet will get tubed! That triangular point means there is another common wave direction, which means at times there may be two entirely different breaks going on at the same time, at essentially right angle to each other. This can be fun as at the intersection a surfer can switch from one wave to another going at right angle!

  36. Is that a fishtrap (round depression in the sand) located on the protruding section of the island at the lower left (SW ?).

  37. Jan Smit says:
    August 9, 2013 at 3:13 am
    Please Willis, permit me to rephrase that to make a point:
    “So the world is in such a dangerous, shifting situation because officials with guns threaten to throw anyone who doesn’t comply in jail … charming
    ============
    I agree with Jan. Official corruption is color blind. It is much easier to steal armed with a gun and a badge than with a gun alone. It is even easier when you do so in the name of “helping”.

    Great post Willis. Perpendicular breakwaters, typically made from rocks, are found in many areas of the world and they work by building up sand along the shore. They mimic the way nature creates sandy beaches at the heads of bays.

    The other approach, building sea-walls along the beach has been shown time and against to be a failure. It leads to erosion of the beach, and ultimately dooms the sea-wall to failure by undermining.

    Before the invention of explosives, the standard method to bring down castle walls was to tunnel under them. The weight of the walls would then cause them to collapse into the tunnels. Nature uses this same approach to bring down sea-walls.

  38. In his usual cut-to-the-heart-of-the-problem, Willis’s characterization of the barrier bar at Kivalina captures the essence of the problem in a single sentence: “barrier islands are just a pile of sand, and they erode, change, and alter their shape with every change in the ocean that built them.” This is in rather sharp contrast to the story by Stephen Sackur of BBC who says “within a decade Kivalina is likely to be under water” as a result of CO2-induced climate change. According to Wikipedia, “As of 2013, it is predicted that the island will be inundated by 2025.”

    What’s wrong with the BBC and Wikipedia contentions? Well, to start with, you’d think that both of these sources of misinformation would have bothered to take the time to check Alaskan tide gauge records to see what sea level in Alaska is doing. NOAA lists 15 tide-gauge records and all show a strong negative trend since the mid-1960s. None show any sea level rise in Alaska in the past 50 years! In general, Alaska is not drowning, it’s emerging from the sea! The drop in Alaskan sea level varies from about 1 to 10 mm/yr from place to place, so in 10 years we could expect to see as much as 100 mm (~5 inches) of sea level drop in Kivalina..

    Secondly, they predict inundation within a decade. Most of Kivalina is about 10-13 feet above sea level. To drown Kivalina in a decade would require a sea level rise of about one foot per year! Compare that to the actual tide gauge records that suggest as much as 5 inches of sea level lowering. The absurdity of the BBC contention, especially in view of Alaska’s negative sea level change over the past 50 years, is self evident.

    Thirdly, Kivalina is situated on a barrier bar at the distal mouth of Kivalina delta. Kivalina is located on a barrier bar built by sediment pushed laterally along the shoreline by wave action. Or as Willis so aptly puts it, a ‘river of sand’ moving along the coast. This is a typical, dynamic geologic situation–the barrier bar is not going away, it will continue to grow as more and more sediment is contributed to the coast by the Kivalina delta.

    Fourthly, the cost of relocating Kivalina is estimated to be $400 million (guess who would get to pay for that). Money could be put to far better use in helping people.

    A minor correction about the dynamics of man-made groins (barriers at right angles to the beach). Deposition occurs behind the up-wave portion of the barrier because it blocks down-coast transport of sand, not because it slows down the water. To see how this works, refer to p.558-461 in “Surface processes and landforms” by Prentice Hall.

    What we can learn from this is that poorly thought out contentions by non-scientists totally destroys their credibility.

  39. Brilliant again, Willis. Nice work uncovering the roll of the BIA and an excellent example of unintended consequences.

  40. Great article, Willis. I get so disgusted that human beings can be so stupid as to think barrier islands and silted coastal deltas are somehow permanent structures, just becauses humans have deeded them and turned them into “real” property. Damn the “Real” political meddlers who believe that their puny brains give them dominion over nature’s power and complexity. And damn their media cohorts for assisting in the subversion of the root of the word ‘reality.’ I suppose that we CAGW skeptics should at least be grateful that that dead polar bear didn’t wander into Kivalina to die. ;-)

  41. Ken Hall, “I fully support shutting down the BBC”.

    No, no Ken you can’t do that, how dare you even suggest it. If you shut them down there’s a chance they will be seen as martyrs by some misguided left wingers, probably Guardian readers. Much better simply to withdraw the taxes that are forcibly extracted from an unwilling population, and watch them try to survive as a commercial entity. Shouldn’t be too long before their left wing activism sees them die a painful death, much like the Guardian in fact.

  42. “The people of Kivalina, like the Ipiutak before them, utilized the barrier reef only as seasonal hunting grounds, making camp there in warm-weather months.”

    Oh, Willis, don’t you know that summer is dangerous because warmer climate results in more violent weather?
    /sarc

    As for the claim that people weren’t stupid centuries ago, reality is that some were Darwin Candidates – if they didn’t pay attention, plan ahead, and adapt they’d drown or starve so wouldn’t reproduce. Some forced relocations were a perhaps misguided attempt to prevent such.

    A problem today in Canada is many people of aboriginal ancestry stay in their inadequate settlements, whether historically self-chosen or forced location, instead of moving. An example is the bunch in NE Canada whose chief did a fake hunger strike in Ottawa. Ironically, that settlement may get income from a mine to be built in the region of their settlement, thus good income from jobs.

  43. “Mickey Reno says: August 9, 2013 at 7:42 am
    “I get so disgusted that human beings can be so stupid as to think barrier islands and silted coastal deltas are somehow permanent structures…”

    Someone might look at the town of Ocean Shores WA, which looks like a big sandbar to me.

  44. Don Easterbrook, minor correction: the BBC contend that the rapid erosion is due to lack of sea ice, not due to raising sea levels.

    The sea has sustained them for countless generations but in the last two decades the dramatic retreat of the Arctic ice has left them desperately vulnerable to coastal erosion. No longer does thick ice protect their shoreline from the destructive power of autumn and winter storms. Kivalina’s spit of sand has been dramatically narrowed.

  45. About 30 km SE of Kivalina is the Red Dog Mine complex which supplies 10% of the world’s supply of zinc. The only part of this vast complex that is on the beach is the pier for receiving supplies and people, and for delivering ore.

  46. If the Juan de Fuca fault lets go (and it’s due), I regret that there will probably be no Kivalinans left to relocate – a massive tsunami with virtually no warning.
    I have often felt compelled to chuck my radio through the window when some radio wonk of the BBC radio 4 morning programme is waxing stupid. Then, I reflect that the idiot is at the transmitting end, not my bedroom.

  47. I feel sorry for the villagers, they had no choice. Unlike the idiots in North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York who built homes and moved onto the aforementioned States’ barrier islands voluntarily.

  48. “As the residents of the barrier islands of the US East Coast regularly discover (although apparently to their infinitely renewed shock and never-lessening total surprise and outrage), when a storm wanders through their neighborhood, the ocean is more than happy to totally reshape any barrier island at any time.”

    “Truer words were never written,” an old saying. Yep, never-lessening total surprise. Brilliant, brilliant article.

  49. TimTheToolMan says:
    August 9, 2013 at 3:53 am

    … Secondly I’m wondering whether this barrier island is in a “second phase” of ocean currents. The first phase was one where the island grew (or even “allowed to grow) and this second phase its now being eroded away. So is this “second phase” indicative of something bigger with the ocean currents or is it a localised effect ? Or some other reason existed for the island to come into effect I suppose?

    Thanks, Tim. A barrier island is in a constant state of flux. It is constantly both losing and gaining sand. Barrier island complexes are never the same from day to day.

    And if you ran a total on the surface area, if you could measure it precisely, you’d see that at any given instant any given barrier island either growing or shrinking. Typically what’s happening is that it’s gaining a little here, then losing a little there, then gaining it back. In addition there is often a summer-winter oscillation, where when the waves and winds change with the seasons, the shape of the island changes as well.

    They are natural structurea which grow in response to a slowly shelving bottom profile, combined with the flow of sediment-containing rivers from the land. They are a common feature around the planet. They are very resilient and durable over time, existing over millennia. But they accomplish this, not by being rigid and unchanging, but by being flexible and changing and adapting to the conditions.

    Not sure if that exactly answered your questions …

    Regards,

    w.

  50. Luther Wu says:
    August 9, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Boss Indians Around

    Love it, cracked me up. Hadn’t heard thet.

    Thanks,

    w.

  51. eyesonu says:
    August 9, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Is that a fishtrap (round depression in the sand) located on the protruding section of the island at the lower left (SW ?).

    No, it appears to be a natural phenomenon. You can see that sediment structure along with a string of others that are only half-circles running along the inshore part of the island in Figure 2.

    I have not seen these formations in the East Coast barrier islands, but I’m no expert, I live on the West Coast and the ocean drops off too steeply here to form barrier islands..

    It appears from Google Earth that there is a strong flow of water from North to South inside the barrier island, which may be related. Or it may have to do with the ice in the winter, although that seems less likely.

    w.

  52. Sez the BBC article, “Almost no one in America has heard of the Alaskan village of Kivalina…..”

    Odd thing to say, or an indication that the BBC article writer doesn’t do much research. The Kivalina v. Exxon case was among the three major global warming nuisance lawsuits for quite some time, a poster child for the enviro-activists to crow about amongst themselves. We need not type anything more into an internet search window than the word “kivalina” and the 3rd highest result is for “kivalina lawsuit”, which shows a monstrous amount of articles on the topic.

    Somewhere in that pile, perhaps, should be my 2010 Brietbart article, “Global Warming Nuisance Lawsuits Are Based on a Fatal Flaw” http://ow.ly/gjm8O

  53. An excellent post Willis.
    Fascinating to read about the concrete tube technology – we need more of this kind of innovative engineering design across the globe!

  54. So the village is in such a dangerous, shifting location because white guys with guns threatened to throw anyone who didn’t move there in jail … charming.
    *******************************
    blame whitey…whatever.
    great article except that one line.
    didn’t BIA have reps from Five Civilized Tribes in early 1900s?
    shocked to learn now they are white….

    is it just me or does it seem like the Corps of Engineers is really messing up over last 15 yrs or so?
    New Orleans, the flood water issues in 2009/2010 (I forget dates right now) causing River floodings.
    or is it maybe just that we have better access to the info so it SEEMS they are messing up more?

  55. tonyb says:
    August 9, 2013 at 2:11 am

    Juneau is Alaska’s capital, but not its largest city. Anchorage is, pop. ~300K.

  56. philjourdan says:
    August 9, 2013 at 9:16 am
    @Gail Combs

    Army Corpse of Engineers.

    Or as Obama says, the Corpsemen?

    Now I have a picture in my head of zombies sitting at drafting tables and computers desiging levees and seawalls.

  57. “Here’s the important fact—the amount of sand that can be picked up by the water depends entirely on the speed of the water.”

    Just being really picky here but that’s not entirely true. The other highly variable factor is the depth of the water which is one other way the vertical sea wall actually increases the likelihood of turbulent flow that causes the erosion.

  58. Great proposal that will NEVER be adopted because it came from denier camp!! BTW, how do you cope with Melanin deficiency whilst doing all that yachting around the world? I hope you are not contaminating the oceans with non-green approved sunblock :)

  59. Ever notice that the stand-off of barrier islands from the shoreline is rather constant? As a matter of natural deposition, the river delta is constantly growing, hence any barrier island, to maintain that standoff, is destined to move out to sea until the sea floor is so deep it can’t support such islands. It is quite likely that much of the current delta silt is former barrier island silt that has been incorporated into the delta through delta expansion. And that can a consequence of river meander in the delta. That is pretty much how the bedrock portion of New Orleans, a former island, came to be part of the delta dryland.

  60. I sent the article to a friend who has lived in Alaska for many years and has extensive knowledege of the state from his previous employment. I expected him to back the article 100%, since it seemed to me to be well written and another of Willis’s excellent writings. Imagine my surprise when I received the following comments:
    *****
    After reading not only the article. But, most of the comments, I suggest that you find an checker game on a cracker barrel in an old general store to entertain your self.

    What a bunch of hog wash!

    Yes, there is a village of Kivalina and it suffers some erosion problems. And, yes the BIA has had some support there in helping the people deal with it. But, they (The BIA) have never in their history herded folks with guns into any area of Alaska. The native folks that live there are there voluntarily and stay there by their own choice, demanding money from the U.S.Government for every excuse they can conjure up. (Typical of the breed.)

    The BBC gives the BIA credit for the raindeer herds there. Actually, I think it was back in Teddy Roosevelt’s administration that reindeer herds were relocated to several places in Alaska. Perhaps before the BIA was started. My personal experiance with the Bering Sea Reindeer Products Corp is limited to Nunivak Island and Nelson Island. But, I do know that they were also placed in other parts of Alaska on a similar experiment.

    The state of Alaska has actually relocated one village as a result of unsolvable flood control problems. It is now the villiage of Grayling on the Yukon River that used to be on the banks of the Innoko River under another name. (CRS setting in, I can’t recall that name right now.)

    ARRrrrgghhh!
    *****

    IanM

  61. Sounds like these folks are refugees from the BIA.

    We had refugees right here in Colorado when the Dillon Dam was built.

    It flooded the old town of Dillon.

    Denver needed the water, so too bad for the town. I understand the water board paid out compensation, but sure it wasn’t enough to make up for the loss of homes and businesses.

  62. Best Willis Eschenbach piece evah. Thanks much for the info.

    Jan Smit says:
    August 9, 2013 at 3:13 am

    “So the world is in such a dangerous, shifting situation because officials with guns threaten to throw anyone who doesn’t comply in jail … charming.”

    You are so right.

  63. The BBC is a socialist media outlet and heavily invested in the Global Warming scam. Everything they make refers to ‘because of climate change’ on any negative weather related issue.

    Many people in the UK now are using the internet via iplayer etc and not needing a TV license, because no live broadcasts are involved. It’s pretty easy now with HDMI devices to avoid it. Just ignore the letters, blank any inspectors – lots of info on the internet about this.

    There is no need to pay an organisation working against us so earnestly.

  64. Willis Eschenbach says:
    August 9, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Luther Wu says:
    August 9, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Boss Indians Around

    Love it, cracked me up. Hadn’t heard thet.

    Thanks,

    w.
    ______-________________-________________-
    Willis, if I can tickle your funny bone a bit as payback for all you’ve done for us…

    This is Oklahoma and we do have an Indian or two out here.
    My fave bumper sticker of all time goes:

    Welcome to Pawnee Country
    Watch Your Horse

  65. dmacleo says:
    August 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

    So the village is in such a dangerous, shifting location because white guys with guns threatened to throw anyone who didn’t move there in jail … charming.

    *******************************
    blame whitey…whatever.
    great article except that one line.
    didn’t BIA have reps from Five Civilized Tribes in early 1900s?
    shocked to learn now they are white….

    Oh, yeah, integration was a big feature of the Federal Government in the early 1900s, lots of non-white representation … not.

    As to whether the BIA had some representatives from tribes, possibly, although a citation is required … if you think that made a difference, please read their history.

    w.

  66. jayhd says:
    August 9, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I feel sorry for the villagers, they had no choice. Unlike the idiots in North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York who built homes and moved onto the aforementioned States’ barrier islands voluntarily.
    ____________________
    There’s a can of worms. There really aren’t any places on planet Earth which are completely safe from the ravages of mother nature. Of course, some places might be more safe than others.

  67. Ian L. McQueen says:
    August 9, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I sent the article to a friend who has lived in Alaska for many years and has extensive knowledege of the state from his previous employment. I expected him to back the article 100%, since it seemed to me to be well written and another of Willis’s excellent writings. Imagine my surprise when I received the following comments:
    *****

    After reading not only the article. But, most of the comments, I suggest that you find an checker game on a cracker barrel in an old general store to entertain your self.

    What a bunch of hog wash!

    Yes, there is a village of Kivalina and it suffers some erosion problems. And, yes the BIA has had some support there in helping the people deal with it. But, they (The BIA) have never in their history herded folks with guns into any area of Alaska. The native folks that live there are there voluntarily and stay there by their own choice, demanding money from the U.S.Government for every excuse they can conjure up. (Typical of the breed.)

    Thanks, Ian. I took my facts about Kivalina from the cited article. Here’s another quotation:

    In Kivalina, for example, villagers traditionally lived nomadically, moving seasonally to different hunting grounds. They only settled permanently after the U.S. federal government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs built a school in Kivalina in 1905 after seeing people camped on the reef and mistaking the temporary hunting camp for a village. (According to the City of Kivalina’s website, the BIA told people they would be jailed if they didn’t send their children to school.) So the people were forced to stay in Kivalina and make it a permanent home after the school was built.

    That would not surprise me about the BIA at all, and it was true that schooling was indeed compulsory.

    He has provided nothing but his mouth. Get back to him and ask him for some citations. I doubt his claim greatly. So far, we have three different groups (Shishmaref, Newtok, and Kivalina) living in unsuitable areas, and in all three cases I have references saying they were put there by the government. It’s easy, no need to send in soldiers. You just build a BIA school in some really crappy location, you require that everyone’s kids go to the BIA school with suitable punishments for non-compliance, and voila! We have a new village … just in a terrible location.

    So if he wishes to dispute that, he’ll need more than he’s provided so far, which is just fairly racist comments and blanket denials … one of the first jobs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs was to preside over the forced removal and resettlement of the Five Civilized Tribes under the Indian Removal Act. The idea that the BIA never resettled anyone is a joke. Is your friend seriously claiming that people settled in the godforsaked Kivalina location by choice? He needs help.

    You have to understand, Ian, that in Alaska there’s loads of prejudice against the locals, for all the traditional time-hallowed reasons: they’re supposed to be lazy, shiftless, untrustworthy, unwilling to work, always begging for government handouts … in short, the usual litany of racist charges brought against minorities since prehistory, and gladly repeated by your friend.

    Because while racism against black people is pretty minor in Alaska, racism against the locals is so common that often it is not even noticed.

    w.

  68. Another excellent post from Willis E,
    This issue reminds me of another barrier island story, Around 2006 the UK newspaper The Independent (which is what the BBC folk read when they cam’t get the Guardian) carried a story about missing islands in the Sunderbans, a barrier island complex which forms part of the coastal region of India and Bangladesh. Aerial surveys had shown that the 100 islands originally recorded there had been reduced to 98. The Independent’s knee-jerk reaction? You got it. Rising sea levels, climate change refugees, dee-dah dee-dah. On investigation, however, it seems that there was more to the story than met the eye. First, the story had been lifted verbatim from an Indian newspaper dated 1984, so predated the current climate change panic. Next, the Sunderbans are barrier islands, subject to the usual pressures from the sea (Bay of Bengal monsoons etc) and land (rivers flowing into the Ganges delta bringing down huge amounts of silt etc from the interior). Moreover, the Sunderbans are extremely fertile land, and the weight of vegetation growing on them tends to settle the land further in situ. Creation and destruction of islands in this area is a natural phenomenon which has been happening for thousands of years.

    Btw, I agree that the BBC are hopeless, but their main tv news rival in the UK, Independent Television News (ITN), are no better. ITN have a so-called Science Correspondent called Lawrence McGinty who parrots the party line on climate change in exactly the same terms as the BBC.

  69. Willis says

    Second, I was bummed that they’d built such a joke of a seawall

    tobias says:
    August 9, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Another technique that seems to work along similar lines are not straight up and down seawalls but walls shaped like a stair case

    Well, you could watch this youtube video and see exactly what the seawall looks like (at 4:24).

    It also appears that they have put some sort of a mesh on the beach to help with erosion (at 4:18). Unfortunately, if the real problem is because the ice is melting too soon (which is what the video claims), nothing will help.

  70. andrew says:
    August 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    the Sunderbans are barrier islands

    No they aren’t – they are islands (sandbars) in a river delta.

    the story had been lifted verbatim from an Indian newspaper

    No it wasn’t – it left out the part about the islands disappearing because the people cut down the mangroves – the stabilizing vegetation.

  71. In their infinite wisdom the governments in the area are damming the rivers that provide the silt that maintains the Sunderbans Islands. When those dams trap all the silt the islands will likely adapt in ways unfortunate for the Bengal tiger population that lives there. The mangrove trees, without a fresh supply of silt will stand like boney skeletons surrounded by nothing but water, and dead. Good thing the tigers are powerful swimmers.

  72. A very concerned friend had seen the story repeated on this site: http://truth-out.org/news/item/2187-kivalina-a-climate-change-story#.UfzC7upzgWY.email . Before I had seen Willis’ excellent article above, I thought I’d write a critique of how the story was told on truth-out.
    This article cites official U.S. Government reports of 2000 and 2003 that climate change was affecting life in Alaskan native villages “due in part to rising temperatures that cause protective shore ice to form later in the year, leaving the villages vulnerable to storms”. An Inuit petition of 2005 alleged violation of “the human rights of Arctic people by refusing to limit greenhouse gas emissions”. As a lawyer involved in the case was to say later “No one asked the people of Kivalina, y’know, ‘Would you like to have your environment ruined?’ “ Underlying these first four paragraphs is the assumption (and no doubt conviction) that human caused emissions are primarily responsible for the reported effects of climate change that I’m sure are quite real for these Alaskan villages. The article raises no question about natural variability in climate, about the natural warming that has been occurring at an approximate rate of 1.70C, nor of the clear pause in global warming since 1998 (officially acknowledged subsequently by the UK Meteorological Office in December 2012). Nor is there any reference to our slowly rising sea levels, a rise certainly not accelerating, all despite the clearly increasing CO2 levels.
    The assumption that the case for CAGW is quite proven is illustrated with later references to the promulgation of “junk science”, of “misinformation”, “efforts to deceive the public about global warming”. These frequent and highly charged emotional statements will be familiar to many. But they are assertions, they have everything to do with alleged intention, and nothing to do with evidence. Yes, most of us are sympathetic with these Alaskan peoples, but our natural sympathy must not cloud objective science. Solutions based on wrong reasons, may well become wrong solutions.
    The emotional nature of the article carries through the rest of the account, which has a large banner at the bottom “email this story to a friend” – and so the CAGW call for action spreads photon-like through the ether of the internet. Never mind that the implied call for action, while reporting factual accounts of climate change effects, contains no more than the orthodox assumption about its causes. But that’s okay, for it’s all about persuading by emotion, and not clouding the message with fact or analysis.
    A careful reading between the lines, however, suggests there is a parallel universe which is more about money than climate. In 2008, Kivalina filed a legal claim against 24 energy companies (oil, electricity and coal), for up to US$400million, presumably to cover relocation costs. Secondary claims were included: the defendants were “conspiring to create a false scientific debate about climate change to deceive the public”. For your interest, the current Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kivalina_v._ExxonMobil_Corporation explains that despite two appeals against previous adverse judgments, the US Supreme Court decided not to hear the casse, effectively ending the claim. There may be a real need, and a good case for the public purse to provide major relocation assistance, but if so, it should be for the right reasons.
    There is a nice touch to this story, for the CAGW camp gained a recruit from “Big Tobacco” in lawyer Steve Susman, “notable both because he is a high-profile litigator who charges up to a thousand dollars an hour for his services, and because he was involved in the tobacco suits – on the side of tobacco”. Granted , he has worked pro-bono for some Texan cities, but I can see the commercial opportunities for both notable and less notable lawyers But doesn’t it warm your heart, to find that even lawyers can be persuaded to come over from the Dark Side to fight for truth and justice? And we all know that delightfully invalid syllogism: all oranges are fruit; all apples are fruit; therefore all apples are oranges – or if you prefer, all pro-tobacconists are denialists; all sceptics are denialists; therefore all sceptics are pro-tobacconist denialists. Sweet subliminalism here, but it’s all in a good cause!

    The friend, who initially had wondered why you would build permanent structures on a sand island, has now read Willis’ article, and found it most enlightening! Thanks Willis. I find in my discussions with good people who have honestly accepted the CAGW orthodoxy, it’s like splitting a really tough timber block for firewood. You need to make that first tiny split, to start them wondering “is it really so?” Enlightenment will follow in due course.

  73. Willis Eschenbach says:
    August 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    …one of the first jobs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs was to preside over the forced removal and resettlement of the Five Civilized Tribes under the Indian Removal Act…
    —————-

    Actually, it’s worse than that. The bureaucratic ancestor of the BIA was formed for the express purpose of Indian removal, by then Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, Democrat of SC, under Democrat President James Monroe.

    In 1824, Calhoun, created the “Office of Indian Affairs” (the name varied) as an agency within the War Department, without authorization by Congress. Calhoun actually preferred “Bureau of Indian Affairs” to “Indian Office” & other names.

    It took the election of old Indian-fighter & conqueror of Florida Democrat President Andrew Jackson in 1828 & passage of the Indian Removal Act before Calhoun’s plan could be realized, however.

    In 1849 “Indian Affairs” was transferred to the Department of the Interior. Its “Office of Indian Affairs” was renamed “Bureau of Indian Affairs” in 1947.

  74. Willis,

    You have taught me a great deal about islands, barrier reefs and the ocean. You also have presented a great deal of insight into the silliness of bureaucracies and the entrenched and unrecognized biases of people.

    Thank you.

  75. The hottest temperature recorded at Kivalina was 94° on July 22, 2005, while the coldest reached -53° on February 1, 2012. Kivalina typically experiences snow on 71 days of the year. On average, Kivalina’s snow is one inch deep, with a maximum recorded depth of four inches on October 19, 1999. All these extremes of weather & climate were unprecedented & worse than we thought.

  76. Hi Willis-

    I read your reply several hours ago but was blocked from reading and making comments until I had moved a number of files to other folders.

    I am the meat in the sandwich here and will only say that you have unknowingly maligned my friend. Everything that he has written before has indicated that he is very sympathetic to the people who are native to Alaska.

    IanM

  77. Ian L. McQueen says:
    August 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Willis-

    I read your reply several hours ago but was blocked from reading and making comments until I had moved a number of files to other folders.

    I am the meat in the sandwich here and will only say that you have unknowingly maligned my friend. Everything that he has written before has indicated that he is very sympathetic to the people who are native to Alaska.

    My thanks, Ian. Did you actually read what he said?

    The native folks that live there are there voluntarily and stay there by their own choice, demanding money from the U.S.Government for every excuse they can conjure up. (Typical of the breed.)

    “Typical of the breed?” “The breed”? I was unaware that locals in Alaska were a separate breed of folks …

    And tarring every single individual that lives in Kivalina with the same brush? He assures us that every individual there is just looking for excuses to get government money, one and all. Really?

    Yeah, he’s very sympathetic to the locals … not.

    Now, if I were to say “He’s just another racist Alaskan, typical of the breed“, people would be jumping all over me, and rightly so, for the “typical” comment. You’d point out that it’s far too general an accusation, obviously doesn’t apply to everyone, and is insulting in the bargain.

    SO … how about you jump all over him for saying that … or not, your call, he’s your friend.

    But his words so far indicate that he might not be one of mine, and that he doesn’t have much sympathy for the locals.

    Near as I can tell from my travels around the world, the 80/20 rule works wherever I’ve been. Out of any group of people, somewhere around 80% of them are decent folks, and 20% of them are differently enabled … I have no reason to think Kivalina is any different. Sure, you’ll find moochers and freeloaders there, people looking for a handout … but point to any city in the world where that’s not true. You can’t say all of the residents of Kivalina are “typical of the breed”, there’s no “breed”, and people are rarely “typical” in the way he’s claiming, that’s racist bullshit.

    w.

  78. Read any book about the history of the American Indian and the BIA and you will find horrible things the Indians suffered because of corruption and greed of the BIA people in general. It was a sorry affair that most Americans are totally unaware of and with our current education system-never will be.

  79. It is too bad that conventional news organizations have neither any system nor any desire to hire someone like Eschenbach for reporting on this topic rather than generic-background journalists: The contrast with the BBC article is like an implicit case study of how much of a difference is made if the author really knows what he is talking about, beyond superficiality and bias.

  80. Re: “Typical of the breed”:

    Anyone who really knew indigenous Alaskans would not lump together all the various “breeds” of Inupiaq & Yupik Eskimos, their more distant kin the sadly depleted Aleut, & the many Indian tribes of different affinities & regions, eg. southern & southeastern Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian & various Northern Athabaskans.

  81. Didn’t someone say thousands of years ago somewhere, ‘the wise man built his house on rock, the fool built his house on sand…’

  82. Nice article Willis.

    To other posters, I have worked with Army Corp of Engineers personnel on several streambank preservation, pipe outlet, concrete sediment basin, etc. riparian projects and would like to inform folks that the ACE are hamstrung by EPA mandates that reduce the options available. There is probably a man-eating spike toothed slug somewhere around that island and the EPA won’t let the ACEs’ fix the problem. The EPA is the environmental equivalent of the BIA on steroids.
    My experience with the EPA suggests they would save the slug and let the villagers eat cake.

  83. Tim Clark says:
    August 10, 2013 at 3:55 am

    I’ve dealt with EPA (and local DEP) dealing with storm water at airport, you may be right about that.

  84. The effect of groin building is well known and infamous for the negative impact of ill conceived human assertions upon the will of the natural system. It only works well when the engineers carefully study what is actually happening and design the intervention in a manner that uses the natural sand transport regimes across numerous seasons and weather events to usefully divert the natural inclination and ASSIST or cause the desired result. The Army Core began by by being assertive and through hard lessons only recently learned a more studied approach.

  85. Robert Clemenzi (Re video)
    Thanks for that. I was reading all the discussion, but the one thing which I couldn’t understand is how such a large and high island could possibly form.

    See the video, showed just such a process in action!! In a large storm, the huge sand-packed waves threw themselves right up the beach and then the water flowed (more slowly) down the back side of the island. This whole process will deposit huge amounts of sand on the island.

    Presumably, the main reason for the placement of this island is the river channel … being deeper water, the waves are attenuated less and so are large enough to build up massive islands either side.

    The problem is that rivers also deposit silk into their channel … and in flood, on either side. Over time the channel tends to rise and rise until there is a catastrophic event causing the channel walls to be breached and a new channel is formed.

    AFTER SOME CHECKING ON GOOGLE EARTH.

    First, what a god forsaken swamp!!! No wonder they moved out to the island in summer … the whole place would be a plague of mosquitoes!! Presumably the ancestral winter area was inland but was uninhabitable when the Mosquitoes flew. But the coast was little better as it was uninhabitable because it was swamped by winter storms.

    At first I wondered if the river channel coming in from the north was changing … little evidence for this.
    Then I noticed the way the sand along the bar forms smaller a bars at a tangeant … which even appear to be “surf waves” to the extent that one has almost formed a totally enclosed lake.

    Then I checked for sand loss on the island … and if anything … there is a huge new area of sand just at the end of the island (next to outlet from the river from north). Eventually I did find an area that showed some erosion further west up the coast.

    CONCLUSION

    The sand in this area flows along the coast in bars protruding from the bank rather like sand dunes. Areas of active erosion are interspersed by areas of active build up (natural groynes). These bars move like sand dunes due to the prevailing currents down the coast. So, it is totally inevitable that areas close to the sea will see erosion until the next “sand dune” like bar reaches them and then they will see active deposition of sand. So any one area will see … Erosion, Erosion, Erosion … BUILD UP … Erosion, Erosion, Erosion … BUILD UP ..Erosion, Erosion, Erosion … BUILD UP .. etc.

    Because the island is reliant on this “flow of sand” … any kind of work to stabilise the sand could be entirely counter productive. E.g. stopping sand moving down the southern side of the island could stop the deposition of sand into the channel for the river coming from the north and deepen its channel leading to turbulence and change of flow which might undermine the Eastern tip of the island. Indeed stopping sand eroding from the south of the island could prove fatal as it could create a deep channel/pool which if strong winds came from the SE could focus the waves onto the island and in a large storm the whole island could be almost washed away.

    Every year we go to the beach … I take a spade … I build huge sea walls in defiance of the sea … and then sit an watch the sea batter them down. Next morning the beach is almost entirely flat (at an angle obviously). The only thing that stopped the sea are … Big rocks.

    SOLUTION
    Adapt where possible but have an action plan to vacate the island in a hurry.

    If you really had to stop (most erosion) on the island then one could try airlifting in 10,000m3 of stone (100m x 10m x10m) of rock from about 17miles away.

    AFTER THOUGHT

    The key to this issue is to understand the flow of sand from West to East. Looking at the situation, there is clearly a build up of sand on the North of this bar and less sand than would be expected on the south. ALL THIS IS HAPPENING AROUND THE AIRPORT.

    I am beginning to think that perhaps building the airport has interrupted the flow of sand … perhaps raising the level in some way , so that waves no longer flow over the bar in a storm. This may be leading to a build up of sand at the north and a lack of sand on the southern side.

    So, perhaps after a lot of thinking … the solution is to try to retain the sand around the village for longer using groynes. …. But that may deepen the channel … leading to a need to have a massive sea defence against SE storms.

  86. Mike Haseler says:
    August 12, 2013 at 2:42 am

    … Because the island is reliant on this “flow of sand” … any kind of work to stabilise the sand could be entirely counter productive. E.g. stopping sand moving down the southern side of the island could stop the deposition of sand into the channel for the river coming from the north and deepen its channel leading to turbulence and change of flow which might undermine the Eastern tip of the island.

    Thanks for your detailed comments, Mike.

    1. There is no way of “stopping sand moving down the southern side”.

    2. The use of submarine groynes does not stop the sand from moving.

    Note the small size of the concrete tubes used by Holmberg. All you want to do is slow the water down a little. When that happens, the sand will build up and bury the groynes. This leave the river of sand still running, only a bit further offshore than it was running before. It does not stop the sand river, nor does it attempt to.

    w.

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