Black Swans? Dispatches from the front line of climate change.

Guest essay by Tony Brown

The sun was warm and the wind a friendly zephyr as we enjoyed coffee and a cake on Dawlish sea front. A place known to millions of British holidaymakers as a pretty, if rather faded, seaside resort

Black swans –a symbol of the town-and perhaps a metaphor of this time and place*- glided serenely by, whilst the first daffodils showed their faces to the sun.

Just across the road, Brunel’s railway from Paddington to the far west of Britain at Penzance hugs the coast of scenic South Devon. At Dawlish it picturesquely threads it way through a series of tunnels along the amber coast of red sandstone in one of the most spectacular train rides in Britain. 

Here the sea is a constant companion, sometimes washing the sea wall with a frivolous salty spray that glistens in the sun, and at other times is a treacherous and dangerous companion that threatens to overwhelm trains that edge circumspectly along the track. This is perhaps the only main line railway in the world where it useful to consult a tide table in conjunction with the railway time table.

But on Tuesday, three days before our morning coffee, Dawlish had become known worldwide when a giant storm hit the area. As luck would have it this storm- unlike many others-arrived during a Spring tide-when tides are extra high-and the winds came howling in from a direction-roughly from the south-which causes most damage to this part of the coast. From another direction, or at a lower state of tides, the storm would probably have passed unremarked except for a paragraph in the local newspaper. But this one… This one smashed a large hole in the sea wall which carries and protects the main railway line to the South West of England, causing a gaping chasm to open up under the railway, leaving a 30 metre length of track hanging in the air.

clip_image001

http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/update/2014-02-05/rail-line-damaged-after-seawall-collapses-at-dawlish/

Several of the houses directly behind the sea wall and the railway hang precariously close to the void, exposed to the elements and which caused evacuation of the residents. Fortunately no one was hurt-although many were traumatised- and tribute must be paid to the community spirit of this town and the efforts of the council, the emergency services and those involved in the railway in a textbook response showing a high degree of compassion and professionalism.

This line is of prime importance to the economy of the West country. There has however been talk of rerouting it for decades as its tourism value and scenic beauty is precisely because of its vulnerability as trains scurry along just yards from the ocean. Talk has been renewed as obviously the initial reactions to this disaster are that this was due to climate change and with rising sea levels it would be foolish to invest too much money in reinstating the old, when a new inland solution is surely needed.

The history of Brunel’s Great Western railway is well documented and is entirely relevant in examining whether the events of Tuesday-and indeed this winter as a merciless conveyor belt of Atlantic storms have marched in to Britain- are a harbinger of climate change. These few references below are taken as the most relevant for our story, but readers will find the entire history, linked below, to be fascinating.

http://www.greatcliff.co.uk/pages/railway_history.php

Firstly, Brunel never wanted to run the line along a sea wall as he foresaw problems with the sea. He wanted to run it inland, but due to environmental reasons-including protests from landowners- and no doubt cost concerns, he had to defer in agreeing to a new route next to the sea and through tunnels.

It is highly ironic that the first year of operation in 1846 also saw the first breach in the line. In that year Brunel personally inspected 8 breaches in the line, The original newspaper report from 1846 is here.

https://twitter.com/LeoHickman/status/431559126838030336/photo/1

In a space of 15 years from 1853 the line was breached continually, with many other breaches since. Just prior to the history linked above, I note that there were great storms locally in 1817 and 1824, the latter described as an ‘extreme hurricane’.

Perhaps the most significant event in the lines history was 1901 when part of the sea wall was rebuilt 5 metres further out into the sea. It was noted this had a dramatic effect on lowering the beach levels. Sand is an extremely good ‘soft defence’ and we mess with levels at our peril. The groynes along the beach that gather sand around them have been left to decay all along this part of the coast as more fashionable –but less effective- methods of coastal defence are implemented.

A local resident next to the breach tells me of large heavy objects sucked off the ground before hurtling sideways as the storms fury vented itself against the sea wall, the railway line, and the houses that huddle alongside it. A curious echo of the 1824 reference.

The 1901 reference is especially interesting as the remainder of the wall –badly constructed of stone backfilled with rubble-was scheduled to be re-built at that time, but never was. It was that old part that collapsed . This can be clearly seen in the picture below where the sea wall drops to just above sea level (where us locals scurry quickly past at anything other than low tide)

clip_image003

(Full story and many pictures are partway down this article here)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2552027/Britains-coastline-battered-storms-hurricane-force-winds-sweep-Atlantic.html

No doubt other breaches would have occurred in this papier mache thin wall if, over the years, the storms had coincided with spring tides and the winds came from the ‘wrong’ direction. One can only imagine the hammering it has taken over the many years of its existence. That a key section of the country’s only main line railway to the South West should be of such flimsy construction will be a surprise to many, and I suspect will be the main cause of delays in the line reopening, as clearly it does not begin to meet modern standards of construction.

So, has modern climate change caused the damage? The historic record shows numerous breaches and damage from severe storms in the past. This link shows the breach in the line in 1855; London Illustrated news

clip_image005

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/victorian_periodicals_review/v046/46.1.fyfe_fig02.html

This next more modern photo shows a train stranded in Dawlish station with mountainous waves crashing over it and is often touted as proof of climate change. clip_image006

Those able to visit Teignmouth Museum –just along the coast from Dawlish- will see a lithograph there from around 1850 showing an identical scene.

In 1846, Brunel went to inspect sea damage to the railway at Dawlish, as reported in The Standard. Brunel personally inspected 8 breaches in the line in 1846, the first year of the railways operation!

dawlish_rail_1846

It seems that storms are no different now to those over the last couple of centuries. The real story is that an already inadequate sea wall structure which carries the main line railway, has taken numerous hits from waves and storms since its inception and has become steadily weakened. Sand levels have been allowed to drop, thereby reducing soft protection to the base of the wall.

The line was clearly built to a budget in the 1840’s and the measures needed to compensate for its problematic location have only sporadically been implemented ever since. Decaying infrastructure-from sewers to roads to sea walls- is the plague of this country, with its make do and mend philosophy in sharp contrast to the high profile expensive grand follies beloved by our Politicians. The latest planned is a £50 billion project for a new rail line from London to Birmingham to shave 20 minutes off the journey. As Dawlish residents bitterly note, a tiny fraction of that budget would enable a proper sea wall built to modern standards to be built here, that would provide protection to the railway for a century.

That modern climate conditions seem no different to the past may be of no concern to those deciding the future of our railway. A new inland route may ultimately be more appealing than properly repairing and maintaining what we have already got, as the siren voices of climate change are loud and strident and emanate from influential people.

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*black swans. The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory

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190 thoughts on “Black Swans? Dispatches from the front line of climate change.

  1. The ultimate problem is that politicians don’t get as much praise for maintaining existing infrastructure as they do for building new. There is no glory in shoring up an existing line as it does not promise an injection of new money into a different constituency, instead, it simply maintains the status quo. The politician is always better rewarded by constantly repairing the weak infrastructure and building new.

  2. Tony:

    Thankyou. Excellent.

    The air link is intermittent, the railway is gone, and there is still only a single carriageway on the A30 over Bodmin Moor. Cornwall is technically another country from England and if the Plymouth road gets blocked we may as well be on a separate island down here.

    But as you say

    Decaying infrastructure-from sewers to roads to sea walls- is the plague of this country, with its make do and mend philosophy in sharp contrast to the high profile expensive grand follies beloved by our Politicians. The latest planned is a £50 billion project for a new rail line from London to Birmingham to shave 20 minutes off the journey. As Dawlish residents bitterly note, a tiny fraction of that budget would enable a proper sea wall built to modern standards to be built here, that would provide protection to the railway for a century.

    Add to that the insane stopping of the dredging of the Somerset Levels and one is forced to wonder if the South West is wanted any more.

    Richard

  3. crosspatch

    You are so right. Given the choice between Politicians showing off a 30 metre stretch of new sea wall in the pouring rain, or travelling in a glitzy high speed train whilst chatting to the other great and the good, there really is no contest!

    Which doesn’t get away from the fact that our infrastructure-much of it Victorian and a great deal more from the 1960′s is of key importance and needs renewing.

    tonyb

  4. Richard

    I was thinking of you at one end of the Great Western

    I was genuinely shocked by the thin ness of the sea wall at the breach point and was amazed it has stood up so long. With a team of 30 labourers and the willingness, the breach could be repaired in a week (although how long huge amounts of concrete would take to dry is another matter. )

    However I can see no way that just the breach could be dealt with as presumably a survey will reveal other currently hidden weaknesses and I suspect a major rebuild will be needed.
    I see Flybe are putting on extra flights from Newquay airport.

    I have some knowledge of the Somerset levels as for nine years I was on the Flood defence committee for the South West as an appointee for Defra. The policy of non dredging dates back to Barbara Young. Smith was merely a political appointee and although an academically gifted man is a spectacularly bad chairman of the EA which is plagued with political correctness although the people ‘on the ground’ are fantastic. The powers that be were told of the Somerset levels problems over 3 years ago but the wildlife was more important than people
    .
    tonyb.

  5. Very good post. There’s a reason why no other line anywhere has been built to be so picturesque.

    Also remember Dr Beeching’s cuts have reduced the options for the rest of the railway system in the South West.
    Although that was noticed in the press when the landslip cut off the line at Crewkerne.

  6. Excellent post…

    Personally, I don’t see that beautiful stretch of railway being used for much longer… Engineers will probably fashion a repair of some sort, and then the politicians will plan an inland route, rather than address the underlying weaknesses of the Brunel construction.

    As a huge and massive sidetrack, I read a blog earlier this morning by a person who has become interested in lichens. He refers to an article on a website built and maintained by the Royal Botanical Society in Edinburgh… “Lichens don’t lie”, the article apparently stated that the pollution caused by coal burning during the industrial revolution and up until the 1960′s, had all but wiped out some varieties; but that recently since the atmosphere was no longer thick with sulphur, they had been making a comeback.

    The blogger’s pointer no longer works, so I went to the site and made the above search… The article is no longer there, instead there is an article that states that the above scenario is caused by “climate change”.

    It is no longer about lichens, responding to different conditions, such that have occurred throughout the history of this planet. Stories that suggest that a variety of lichen can come and go dependant upon the local environment are much too vague, they don’t categorically state that “climate change” is the villain, as in everything… apparently.

    Incidentally there was a new (to me) phrase there to be added to the new lexicon, that I found amusing…

    …”climate gradient”.

  7. Good article. Howver, in an act of vandalism the southern railway mainline to link Plymouth was closed by British rail and the tracks ripped up. This was an odd thing to do because the Dawlish line had as you have shown always had problems. By the way one of the main reasons for Brunel choosing the line through Dawlish was because he wanted a very flat line to route his atmospheric railway (driven by a vacuum pipe laid in between the rails). This lasted less that 2 years because the local rats ate the leather vacuum seals and breakdowns were common. Remains of the atmospheric pumping stations can be found along the track near Starcross.

  8. plague of this country, with its make do and mend philosophy in sharp contrast to the high profile expensive grand follies beloved by our Politicians.
    _______________________________________

    I would beg to differ.

    Our main problem is that Tony Blair did absolutely nothing for the UK infrastructure while in office, be that repairs or new projects. Just what did Blair’s administration build? Anything?

    And the most criminal element is that he dithered over nuclear power for 14 years, simply because he wasted to be ‘nice’ and uncontroversial, and get reelected. The consequence being that we now have a looming energy gap, and the lights WILL go out at the end of this decade.

    Thanks Blair, you were the biggest political waste of space the UK has ever had the misfortune to be governed by.

    R

  9. All three main political parties in the UK seem to have decided that the rural vote does not count and it is more profitable to court the tree-huggers that live in cities.

  10. climatereason (February 9, 2014 at 12:58 am)
    The Telegraph also reports that the EA prioritises wildlife over people in the Somerset Levels.

    “What galls my constituents… is they found £31 million to build a bird sanctuary at the mouth of the Parrett river, yet they cannot and will not find £5 million to dredge this river.”

  11. climatereason says at February 9, 2014 at 12:58 am.

    Tonyb:

    Thankyou for your reply to me. You will understand that I am in a rush to fulfill some duties I have, but I write to draw your attention to a recent debate on another thread because I was not aware of your involvement in the Somerset Levels issue.

    I do not want to deflect from your excellent article above, but I think you will want to read the other thread.

    An extremist insisted that the Levels flooded because of “climate change” and that dredging would not have been a solution. I explained the reality (see here) and – knowing you – I think you will want to read the link I provide in that post.

    The eco-loon persisted in his assertions and I said it is “madness” and “lunacy” to insist that a bird sanctuary is more important than the homes and lives of hundreds of families. Several regular contributors to WUWT then complained that I had been abusive and had been ad hom..

    Clearly, the complainants have no idea about the issues behind the problems illustrated by your above article. And they lack sufficient outrage to do anything about it.

    Must now go. Again, thanks for your fine article above.

    Richard

  12. Tony berry

    The atmospheric railway connection is why I suggested people should read the link to the history.

    I wonder if it would work today given the new materials available? Jeremy Carlson is interested in Brunel and I thought of approaching him to see if a bit of the line could be recreated to see if it would work with modern materials.

    There is a piece of the leather piping in teignmouth museum together with other artefacts. The star cross pumping station building is in good condition and is the hq of the local sailing club.
    Tonyb

  13. Politicians almost always prefer grand gestures to basic maintenance.

    We all remember Nero and his grand madness – but who remembers the Emperor Claudius, who rebuilt the dockside, ensuring Rome’s supply of winter wheat from Egypt could be landed in the middle of a storm?

  14. Tony berry

    Jeremy clarkson is even more interested in Brunel than Jeremy Carlson! iPad auto correct is a strange thing…

    Tonyb

  15. Mr Watts

    I believe your require accuracy to be a part of your website’s enduring appeal.

    Your author here is slipping in blatant lies about High Speed II, which should see them removed from your list of contributors for wilful lying, the highest crime you can bring against your bete noires of the climate change brigade.

    The cost of HS2 is £50bn from London to Manchester AND Leeds, via Birmingham: a Y-shaped line of around 300 miles (100 miles common from London to Birmingham and 100 miles on each of the Y branches).

    Furthermore, that £50bn contains a very large contingency budget, such that the actual basic budget is under £30bn.

    Lies such as this are a common part of the wholly disreputable campaign to destroy this project.

    I have no issue the project not going ahead if its opponents tell the truth, eliminate their own self-interests and totally remove all London-centric bias from their arguments, given the unique advantage to London of High Speed Rail I, the latest shenanigans from the London brigade to stop HS2 becoming connected directly to that High Speed line to Europe (see today’s Sunday Times for that) and their myopia when claiming that the annual budget for Crossrail (a line going from West of London to the East of London via tunnels under the centre) is affordable and essential, whilst an identical annual budget for HS2 is unaffordable in the future.

    The aim of London is to impoverish the rest of Great Britain whilst ruling over them. It is typical British politics and part of the reason we are bankrupt and despised. Pathetic animalistic dominance complexes, a glorification of the slavery and subjugation of the former British Empire and a deliberate starvation of the housing supply to elevate land- and house prices to the detriment of the majority are their core principles.

    Now I suggest, very strongly, that you do not allow British scribblers to write on your site any longer if they wish to spread lies to those who probably won’t know better.

    It’s down at the level of the warmers you love to hate and if you have any integrity whatever, you will deal with this decisively, vigorously and permanently.

  16. The black swans mentioned. Are they your actual UK black swans, statistical freaks, or are they a gift from us down under?

    Otherwise we are putting up with similar sort of catastrophe porn here in Australia over DEADLY BUSHFIRES which happen for about 6 months of the year over late spring-summer-early autumn. A big part of the problem is that many if not most of our flora species are either fire tolerant or fire dependent to start with and us dumb whitefellas ignored what the indigenous peoples did continent wide for tens of millenia, effective preventative burning. We also build mac mansions out in rural areas then whinge when the rural fire brigades, farmers and government departments want to back burn off in benign conditions. We then howl like two year olds when the mac mansions burn down and the msm goes into hyperdrive with the bushfire porn. It gets the sort of coverage that wars usually get.

    Like the head of your Met Bureau ( Dame Slingo?) recently slungoed out an opinion about climate change being ‘linked” to your recent extreme rain event we get the same crap about bushfires from our resident loonar sciencologists and of course the Greens MP’s.

    Actually the increased risk is about the increased exposure of larger asset base increasingly under protected and an increased intolerance for any thing to go wrong. In essence we overbuild and or underinsure.

    Of course, this will all be given a name soon when diagnosed as a psychological disorder and we will be marketed a pill to take during the ad breaks in the 24/7 flood/fire/iceover reality porn.

  17. Steve (Paris) says:

    February 9, 2014 at 1:06 am
    Join up with your cousins in Brittany – France only wants their taxes.
    Steve, not sure what you mean but if it’s the fight of the ‘bonnet rouge’ against the eco-tax then I hope they win. I don’t think they will because socialist need money to spend and Hollande more than most. Thet eco-tax arrives across france on the 1/1/15. 0.085€ on a litre of diesel and 0.05€ on essence.

    This is why politicians want the CO² warming to continue. No matter that they will kill many of their elderly and their young through lack of food and energy. Just give them the money.

  18. That’s an interesting report Tony!

    I think you point about the point where the damage at Dawlish occurred is valid – though otoh, I guess the weakest point will go first and I have first hand reports that the damage is extensive, both the platform and more of the sea wall being damaged.

    However, for further context readers need to know that rail travel to the SW is now blocked in several places. By floods on the levels, and by a landslip at Crewkerne. Pretty unprecedented I’d say.

    Living near the Teign Valley I can also say there is NO chance the railway there will be rebuilt and likewise to the longer west Dartmoor alternative. It’s, imo, the coast route or no railway.

    The weather of recent weeks has been astonishing. The River Teign has now broken banks three times this winter – more than is does normally in three decades plus. Wind and swell have damaged not just Dawlish but many long standing structures, man made and natural, around the SW coast.

    I really think this winter’s weather deserves more of an explanation that it simply being no different to the past.

  19. In 2011 the sea wall was identified as needing urgent improvement. This would have gone ahead had the Environment Agency not insisted that a long study on the possible effect on seabirds of works to strengthen this short length must be done before it could be allowed. The delays that caused have led to this catastrophic failure.

    That is the same environment agency that stopped dredging the rivers in the Somerset levels, and that has caused the current flooding to be as devastating as it has been. They defended themselves by saying they didn’t have the £4million available in last years budget – yet spent £20-£30 million (published figures vary) on removing sea defences nearby in the West Country to allow a large area of farm land to flood and provide another haven for birds. Easy to see where their ‘priorities’ lie , and it ain’t with people or agriculture.

    20 years ago the EA stopped maintenance of most rivers. The river running round one boundary of my land had willows planted by the National Rivers Authority (the EA’s predecessor) to prevent bank erosion. They maintained the river and ensured that it was clear and free running. Not so the EA who have done nothing to it in 20 years leaving the willows to grow across and block it causing flooding to 9 or 10 acres of my land and neighbours land every time there is heavy rain. For the last few years we have complained and they ignore it.

    The EA has, to my mind, been captured by the extreme end of the green movements and now seems to have a primary focus on schemes which will return land to 12th century landscapes.

    The NRA had it’s own faults. One of those manifests itself along the river Thames in the Old Windsor and Chertsey areas. In 1991 the NRA produced plans for a flood relief channel to protect Maidenhead and Windsor by carrying water parallel to the Thames from Maidenhead and returning it further downstream. At one of the consultation meetings I asked “if you take a large amount of the flow into a second channel and then recombine that further downstream doesn’t that mean that you are delivering a far greater volume of water than normal at the point they will meet? And doesn’t that suggest it may cause floods in areas that haven’t flooded before?”

    The answer from the NRA was that they had modelled it and it couldn’t possibly happen. Hindsight in the real world, rather than the world of modelling, proves they were wrong and the areas below where the channel rejoins the Thames now have horrendous flooding.

    As an aside the situation in the West Country has worsened since yesterday with a slippage now closing all rail routes into Devon and Cornwall. Amidst all of the calls for British politicians to divert some of the billions in overseas aid to help flood defence work to protect communities and lives one thing shone out like a beacon. An aid group from a Sikh community in Slough (Khalsa Aid) was the only UK aid charity to go to Somerset to help people. Working in the Philippines, Haiti and the Punjab they diverted resources and people to help the communities in the Somerset Levels. All credit and sincere thanks to them.

  20. rtj1211 says:
    February 9, 2014 at 1:31 am
    “Mr Watts
    I believe your require accuracy to be a part of your website’s enduring appeal.
    Your author here is slipping in blatant lies about High Speed II, which should see them removed from your list of contributors for wilful lying, the highest crime you can bring against your bete noires of the climate change brigade.”

    It’s too bad that you don’t cite him because all I see is he said
    “Given the choice between Politicians showing off a 30 metre stretch of new sea wall in the pouring rain, or travelling in a glitzy high speed train whilst chatting to the other great and the good, there really is no contest! ”

    And that’s too much for you to stomach? Are you a crazy person?

  21. Yes! It HAD to happen. The BBC and Prime Minister blames the floods on – guess what?..

    February 9, 2014

    You just know they were gagging to say it, and now it’s been said :

    Met Office: Evidence ‘suggests climate change link to storms’

    Climate change is likely to be a factor in the extreme weather that has hit much of the UK in recent months, the Met Office’s chief scientist has said.

    Dame Julia Slingo said the variable UK climate meant there was “no definitive answer” to what caused the storms.

    “But all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change,” she added.

    “There is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly rain events.”

    More than 130 severe flood warnings – indicating a threat to life – have been issued since December. In contrast, there were only nine in the whole of 2012.

    More than 5,000 properties have been flooded over this period, although the Environment Agency says investment in flood defences over the past decade has protected a further 1.3 million properties.

    ‘Exceptional’

    Speaking ahead of the launch of a Met Office report – produced by the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology – into recent climatic events, Dame Julia said the UK had seen the “most exceptional period of rainfall in 248 years.”

    Unsettled weather at this time of year was not unexpected – but the prolonged spell of rain, as well as the intensity and height of coastal waves, was “very unusual.”

    “We have records going back to 1766 and we have nothing like this,” she said. “We have seen some exceptional weather. We can’t say it is unprecedented but it is exceptional.”

    The report links the recent extreme weather in Europe and North America to “perturbations” in the North Atlantic and Pacific jet streams, partly emanating from changing weather patterns in South East Asia and “associated with higher than normal ocean temperatures in that region.”

    “The attribution of these changes to anthropogenic [caused by humans] global warming requires climate models of sufficient resolution to capture storms and their associated rainfall,” it says.

    ‘Makes sense’

    “Such models are now becoming available and should be deployed as soon as possible to provide a solid evidence base for future investments in flood and coastal defences.”

    David Cameron has said the UK must be prepared for more extreme weather.

    At Prime Minister’s Questions last month, Mr Cameron said he “suspected” that the recent storms to batter the UK and the extreme weather in North America were connected to global temperature changes* – an argument challenged by some Conservative MPs and peers.

    He subsequently clarified the remarks, saying that although “you can’t point to one weather event and say that is climate change”, many scientists were talking of a link between the two.

    “The point I was really trying to make is, whatever you think – even if you think that (climate change) is mumbo-jumbo – because these things are happening more often, it makes sense to do all you can to… prevent these floods affecting so many people and that is exactly what we are doing.”

    * It’s the same old “Global Warming = Global Cooling” stupidity.

  22. For a long time in railway circles, as distinct from the political bubble, there has been discussion about reinstating the single track Teign Valley Railway, which was closed to passengers in June 1958 & fully closed, after FLOODING between Christow & Exeter in 1961. It’s all here!

    http://www.teignrail.co.uk/index.php

    Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has now called for reports about the feasibility of a double track through the Teign Valley from Exeter St Thomas to Newton Abbott, with the line along the coastal route then being singled to serve Teignmouth, Dawlish, Dawlish Warren, Starcross & Exeter St Thomas.

    Another idea is to improve the freight line that branches west towards Okehampton, from the Exeter St David to Barnstable line & continue south to Plymouth, virtually isolating Torquay & Paignton & the line from Newton Abbott to Plymouth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okehampton_railway_station#Future_options

    View the map. http://www.geowiki.com/New_Adlestrop_Railway_Atlas.pdf

    However, what’s the betting that when the damage has been repaired, the urgent report will be quietly shelved & forgotten? After all, the railway, with the exception of china clay related operations,carries no freight in Cornwall & fewer than 10% of the visitors to Devon & Cornwall.

    Cordially,

    Perry

  23. Comments about HS2, the High Speed rail connection are puzzling and of no particular relevance. The key fact about HS2 and why UK politicians are determined to spend tens of billions on it is because they have to build it. It is not a UK decision it something required of the UK by our lords and masters in the EU as part of the European high speed rail network.

    Truth is that the UK has no choice, it may get deferred, but sooner or later it has to be built whether it makes any economic sense or not. The joys of having given up democracy to be ruled by the unelected in Brussels !!!

  24. Moving the railway line is one option, but only part of the answer, There are houses immediately behind the railway, and given that this type of weather is likely to become more frequent we need to look at the wider issues and not treat this as if it is a one off, one hundred year event. There are those who will focus on one issue as the answer, such as dredging to resolve the widespread foods in the Southwest. These are important answers, and are an important part of the solution, but on their own, they are not enough. It is a complex and controversial issue – and critics say it cannot be the total answer when more intense rainfall is anticipated if the climate changes as predicted. They add that it is a particularly thorny problem because the Environment Agency is facing big cuts in the staff that might deal with flood policy – there are difficult decisions to be made over how much is spent and how much priority should be given to farmland compared with homes.
    The Environment Agency says it spent £45m in the last financial year on improving river flow, including dredging and weed clearance. It says increased dredging would not have prevented the current flooding in the Somerset Levels – due to the sheer amount of water.
    “Dredging is often not the best long term or economic solution compared with other flood risk measures such as building walls or providing storage upstream – and would not reduce flood risk on all the rivers on the Somerset Levels because of their tidal nature,” a spokeswoman said.

    It’s the same with the railways and houses. Just building up the sea defences is probably not going to achieve a lot in the longer term with our climate in the UK changing for the worse. I understand there is an inland route closed under Beeching which may be worth considering. Maybe the billions being earmarked for HS2 could be diverted to the people of the South West to help them adapt to this increasingly damaging climate change.

  25. So has modern climate change caused the damage? No.
    They shoulda’ listened to Brunel, he had experience and
    skin in the game. ..

    Tony, lovely thread ‘n thx for your devoted study of the CET data and
    historical records, context, context, context … cross referencing like
    good police work.

    Beth the serf.

  26. Peter

    As regards the platform, we got a good view of that. It consists of a thin long strip that actually extends horizontally right over the beach and the sea. It often gets damaged. As it has now been stripped back it seems to consist of nothing more than horizontal rafters, like you might see in your loft, over which has been overlaid what looks like marine ply and the whole then covered with a layer of felt/tar.

    Again, it doesn’t appear to meet modern standards and like the rest of this station needs more than a lick of paint (the rail co attended to the bridge last year) .

    Are conditions more extreme than the relatively benign last three decades? Yes. Are they out of the ordinary in the broader historic context? No. Should we build in resilience in case this cycle of bad weather continues? Yes.
    tonyb

  27. Tony Berry “one of the main reasons for Brunel choosing the line through Dawlish was because he wanted a very flat line to route his atmospheric railway”. Rubbish. The South Devon Atmospheric Railway was famous for its severe gradients.

  28. Tony B
    Are conditions more extreme than the relatively benign last three decades? Yes. Are they out of the ordinary in the broader historic context? No. Should we build in resilience in case this cycle of bad weather continues? Yes.

    For decades I’ve thought it’s likely our climate will be changed as per IPCC science. Not certain, *likely*.
    Likewise I can’t agree with your certainty the present weather is “not” outside broad historic context. I think it’s *likely* it is – you’re making a mistake to ‘never’ the weather, imo.

    Fwiw, I think there are few certainties, few yes/nos with the weather and climate.

  29. Adam Gallon says:
    February 9, 2014 at 2:32 am
    Gareth, where’s the evidence that our climate’s changing? As Tony shows, this line has been breached by storms over 150 years ago, his work on CET record shows the ups & downs of our weather & climate.

    Hi Adam, indeed you are correct, this line was breached in the past on a few occasions. What we are looking at is the increasing frequency of these events and intensity. My rallying cry is to stop quarrelling about the reasons for this change in climate, and learn to adapt to it. Personally I believe we are making things worse, but I accept others have differing opinions. Are things getting worse? if you live in the UK you will probably have a pretty subjective idea that all it seems to do is rain for months on end,in the mainland US it is extremely cold while Alaska bathes in unseasonal warmth, but we need to be more more objective and recognise the here and now of our our situation if we are going to adapt to meet these challenges. This is a good place to start to see if these weather events are getting more intense.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_extreme_weather_events

  30. stephenj says:
    February 9, 2014 at 1:07 am
    RE: Lichen

    After 2 years without washing my car it has gradually gone green. Yesterday, to my delight, I noticed I now have my the first lichen colonies. Next week I will be going away for a few days and parking the car at Heathrow, it will be interesting to see if the lichen survive the Heathrow air.

    Anyway no one can complain that my lifestyle is not green.

  31. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 2:13 am

    “… given that this type of weather is likely to become more frequent we need to look at the wider issues and not treat this as if it is a one off, one hundred year event. ”
    _____________________________
    Do you have any actual data to support that claim? No, you don’t. You are repeating a lie. The actual data shows the exact opposite effect, that extreme weather events are diminishing is size and frequency. if warming actually happens. As you statists are fond of saying, when weather events make a joke of your foolish claims: “it’s only weather.”
    Didn’t you read rjt1211‘s appeal for honesty, above?

  32. Hello rtj1211

    Is that your real name? No, thought not. Why not stand away from the dark shadows of anonymity so I can see who is accusing me of being a liar?

    You sound as if you have a vested interest in the new line if you choose to take my passing comment as being so worthy of your vitriol. Are you a paid lobbyist?

    My main point as you must surely realise is that we need to spend money on maintaining the existing failing infrastructure before we embark on highly expensive new rail projects.

    You say;

    ‘The cost of HS2 is £50bn from London to Manchester AND Leeds, via Birmingham: a Y-shaped line of around 300 miles (100 miles common from London to Birmingham and 100 miles on each of the Y branches). ”

    Not so in the real world. Here is the home page of HS2

    http://www.hs2.org.uk/

    There is a phase one to Birmingham and a phase 2 to Manchester and Leeds.

    http://www.hs2.org.uk/about-hs2/facts-figures/route-trains-cost

    The 2 phases are years apart with the second phase not likely to happen until the 2030′s , 6 years after phase 1.

    here is a BBC Q and A

    http://www.hs2.org.uk/about-hs2/facts-figures/route-trains-cost

    This report has a headline

    ‘Cost to double to 80 billion.’

    http://news.sky.com/story/1130058/hs2-rail-project-cost-to-double-to-80bn

    It reads;

    “The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) says the plan “defies economic logic” and is calling for the project to be cancelled. The Department for Transport’s official estimate currently stands at £43bn – a rise from its original figure of £33bn.

    The think tank argues that the £80bn price tag could deliver £320bn of value if spent on road and other rail and transport projects. Work on the first leg between London and Birmingham is due to begin in 2017.

    The report’s author Dr Richard Welling said: “It’s time the Government abandoned its plans to proceed with HS2.
    “The evidence is now overwhelming that this will be unbelievably costly to the taxpayer while delivering incredibly poor value for money.”

    So, instead of arguing with me take your case to the IEA.

    £50 billion for the first slice of the pie to be delivered around 2025 and 80 billion for the completion of the project 6 years later seems a perfectly reasonable estimate bearing in mind our proud history of overspending and that it is some 20 years in the future.

    You owe me an apology. Why not tell us who you are and then we can have a sensible debate. I am not against high speed rail per se just against grand projects when much of the rest of the country needs money spending on it.
    tonyb

  33. The reason the warmists think the storm is unusual is because, contrary to this excellent history lesson, they think the beginning of the world occurred in 1978.

  34. Brunel had great problems, mainly the tight fisted GWR owners.
    From ignored infrastructure on the railways to flood protection on rivers we have been badly served by the politicians. And yes £50B could be better spent on general repairs and upgrading of existing infrastructure which we do pay taxes to protect.
    The climate change idea seems to insist that any change will be warming rather than cooling. Julia Sligo, senior scientist for the UKMO, has just claimed that recent poor weather is due to climate change. Models ”predict” stormier weather as the planet warms. History shows the opposite, the LIA included some of the worst storms ever recorded including the Great Storm of 1703.

  35. wildlife more important than people, sounds familiar.
    In australia 5 year ago we had black Saturday, some years before that, Ash Wednesday, lots of do-gooders did not allow trees and underbrush to be cut down, or burnt off in small back burns, because it might hurt the wildlife, instead we had a fire so hot that it destroyed everything including 180+ people and all the wildlife in the area’s affected.
    The fire was so hot it melted aluminum rims on cars, cremation of people and animals caught in fire, cars & remains of houses marked as containing no bodies had to be looked at days later for ashes. Today we have more of the same, Melbourne area has serious fire problem this afternoon and tonight, with another 40C day tomorrow to face.
    Do gooders in England may find drowned animals and wildlife, as I said sounds familiar.

  36. Reading this post reminds me of hearing so many people say that the “monster storm” Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and destroyed much of it.

    The cane missed a direct hit on New Orleans. The gusts of Katrina were in cat 3 range but the sustained winds were not, and besides, the winds did not do the damage. A combination of events led to breaches in the poorly maintained drainage canal levees and navigational canal levees. There were those who had warned of this sort of thing for years before it happened. This was a political disaster of unbelievable magnitude. But now, it is an example of “how global warming is causing more hurricane damage”. MONSTER STORMS! Hide the women and children!!

    Likewise the “Super Storm” Hurricane Sandy is said to have been “the largest ever”. The most costly! The northeast destroyed! It was at most a category 1 hurricane when it made landfall in the northeast. Of course, “global warming caused cold” made it even worse they say. But it was yet again a disaster made much worse by years of poor planning. It was as if the people of the northeast can’t read history and did not know that such things can happen. Let us build in low lying areas — cause the nothing bad ever happens here! Let us have no emergency plan to help in the event of such an occurrence and just muddle about getting in the people’s way.

    Many say that both events were black swans that caught us unawares and we could never have seen things like this coming. It was CO2! The demon molecule did it! Burn the witches!

    I hope everyone who reads here realizes that we are engaged in a political war as much or even more than a scientific debate.

    Note: It is possible that some of the above might be sarcasm.

  37. rtj1211

    I read your biased dit and I find accusations of lying of the detractors of HS2 hypoctitical in the extreme. The HS2 project was built on lies from day 1. Its business plan is unworkable, from train numbers to passenger growth. Passenger numbers on French TGV are highly subsidised, unlike HS2 and Spanish High Speed trains on some routes run nearly empty due to cost. Recent HS2 outpourings are full of unfounded claims, lies, about how much money it would spread north, based on an economic model. This claim can only be verified AFTER the event.
    There were no lies in the post you disliked and criticized.

  38. markstoval:

    I write to support the statement in your post at February 9, 2014 at 3:28 am that says

    I hope everyone who reads here realizes that we are engaged in a political war as much or even more than a scientific debate.

    Yes, we are involved in a “political war” but many do not recognise that.

    I draw your attention to my above post at February 9, 2014 at 1:24 am which is here and its link to the previous thread.

    As example of the problem of failure to understand the issue you state, I copy to here a post I made in that thread.

    Richard

    —————

    richardscourtney says:
    February 7, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    rgbatduke:

    At February 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm you ask

    I very much doubt that Gareth is trying to fool us or that his beliefs are not sincere. I merely challenge those beliefs. Are they defensible?

    His “beliefs” are his own. His assertions about the tragedy in the Somerset Levels are NOT defensible.

    Furthermore, his claim that he said other than he did when his words were specifically quoted is either delusion or deliberate lie. In either case, correction is not amenable to reason.

    But the fact is that the campaign posed by his ilk – and which he still tries to defend – has caused a disaster for hundreds of families, and failure to expose that truth to onlookers assists continue of many similar campaigns which are being conducted.

    This is not merely some academic discussion. It is a fight against an insane philosophy which places a bird sanctuary above the lives and homes of hundreds of people.

    Richard

  39. In other news …

    Rail routes into Devon and Cornwall remain cut off by the problems caused by the flooding and the storm damage, as well as a landslip in Somerset.

    Rachel Sutton, acting leader of Exeter City Council, has called for more government funding to improve rail lines.

    She said rail lines were blocked near Exeter 12 months ago because of flooding, and government funding was needed to protect lines which were “vulnerable in a number of places”.

    “The local authorities can’t do this on their own, particularly when we’re having to cut back because of cuts to our grant from central government,” she said.

    Network Rail said a landslip at Crewkerne and flooding near Bridgwater and Athelney meant there were “no routes to the West Country open to trains”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26106290#

  40. Speed:

    Thankyou for your post at February 9, 2014 at 3:51 am but it is not “other news”.

    It is the result of the reduction to infrastructure maintenance and cuts to water management which are justified by “care for the environment” and which we in the South West have been complaining about for years.

    Richard

  41. @Lyn Roberts:
    The problem is not “do gooders”. [The biggest fires in Victoria occurred in 1855 long before the environmental movement even existed.]. The problem is that burning off will not prevent fires.

    Bush fires are normal events that cannot realistically be prevented. The only effective way to protect property and people people is to avoid living in fire-prone localities.

    http://www.afr.com/p/national/controlled_burns_to_manage_bushfires_oLZ0F1z4jcHydUziwUZVWN

  42. Richard

    You will be amused by this;

    “Britain’s Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says the government “made a mistake” and should have dredged the flood-hit Somerset Levels. He told the Andrew Marr Show it may have relied to much on the Environment Agency’s advice and it now recognises that the area should have been dredged. He added: “I apologise unreservedly and I’m really sorry that we took the advice, we thought we were dealing with experts.” –BBC News, 9 February 2014″

    Substitute Met office for Environment Agency and we will be getting somewhere. ‘We thought we were dealing with experts.’ Priceless.
    tonyb

  43. Bad government policy results in vulnerable infrastructure. Thanks to environmental extremists and AGW policy demands, we are experiencing our infrastructure becoming weaker. The policies are not failing because the underlying environmental and climate concerns are accurate. The infrastructure issues- storm surges in the US and elsewhere, power grid costs and reliability, flooding due to poor flood control, dangerous wild fires in Australia, etc. – are increasing due to our responses to what turns out to be historically typical events. It is the ideas that drove the policies that are creating weak policies.
    Those who care about good government should pay close attention. Environmental and climate change based policies are leading to bad government policy.

  44. Also from the BBC, doesn’t this sound like a Green journalist squeezing some unfortunate scientist for that killer quote?…

    Dame Julia Slingo said the variable UK climate meant there was “no definitive answer” to what caused the storms.

    “But all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change,” she added.

    “There is no evidence to counter the basic premise that a warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly rain events.”

  45. Reblogged this on esngblog and commented:
    It seems there are three things not to talk about in polite company – politics, religion and climate change. I can’t be that polite, as only politics is off limits…. However, this article gives a good history of the Dawlish coastal main line, with historic pictures and some interesting weather statistics. The WUWT site is always worth a look – it is sceptical about climate change, but in a balanced way (until you read the comments, that is!)
    Sorry, I’ll get back to N gauge railways soon….

  46. simon abingdon says: February 9, 2014 at 2:35 am
    Tony Berry “one of the main reasons for Brunel choosing the line through Dawlish was because he wanted a very flat line to route his atmospheric railway”.
    ——————
    Rubbish. The South Devon Atmospheric Railway was famous for its severe gradients.
    _____________________________

    True.

    One of the main reasons Brunel chose the atmospheric (vacuum) rail system is it because it could cope with steep gradients. The other is that stationary engines (producing the vacuum) were much more powerful than mobile (locomotive) engines.

    But one of the great drawbacks, apart from vacuum leakage, was the inability to make a track junction. Which is not much good for today’s complex rail systems.

    R

  47. Alan Robertson says:
    February 9, 2014 at 2:55 am
    Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 2:13 am

    “… given that this type of weather is likely to become more frequent we need to look at the wider issues and not treat this as if it is a one off, one hundred year event. ”
    _____________________________
    Do you have any actual data to support that claim? No, you don’t. You are repeating a lie. The actual data shows the exact opposite effect, that extreme weather events are diminishing is size and frequency. if warming actually happens. As you statists are fond of saying, when weather events make a joke of your foolish claims: “it’s only weather.”
    Didn’t you read rjt1211‘s appeal for honesty, above?

    Hullo Alan, there is a substantial amount of data out there which states that this weather is in keeping with a changed climate Here is a reasonable place to start if you are interested in following up the studies. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/10197566/Flooding-in-winter-to-get-worse-scientists-warn.html
    You are correct in that you can never correlate one weather event with climate change, that does not make sense. It is the overall data that matters and the totality of the events. Someone who beat Babe Ruth’s record on home runs was found to be using steroids. It was not one home run that got him nicked, it was the totality of his performance which rang alarm bells. I posted a link above in a previous response showing how records are being set which also may be worth your while reading. Even if you completely disbelieve the conclusions of many climate experts, I think it is hard to deny that we are experiencing weird weather which is testing our infrastructure. Not dredging the rivers on the Somerset levels is on reflection a bad mistake which made a critical situation worse. However there are other factors and lots of issues where we are not doing all we can to prevent further disasters. After all, who was worrying about dredging before the floods? It takes something like this to nudge us into action regardless of the reasons for deteriorating weather conditions.

  48. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 4:57 am
    ” It takes something like this to nudge us into action regardless of the reasons for deteriorating weather conditions.”

    From the telegraph article:
    “Scientists have found that an atmospheric event behind the heavy flooding in Cornwall last year and in Cumbria in 2009 is to grow more intense and more frequent over the next century. ”

    They have found that it will happen more often. Say, Gareth, do you actually believe any of that? I mean, that is all? You don’t have data? You say:

    “It takes something like this to nudge us into action ”

    Stuff like that nudges you into action? Oh my, oh my. Do I have a bridge to sell.

  49. I’m starting to get annoyed with the “climate change causes extreme weather” meme. Since climate is the aggregate and average of weather over a 30-year period, surely it’s more accurate to say that the increased/decreased frequency of what was once normal weather shows that the climate is changing. IOW, weather drives climate change, not the other way around.

    The current meme is like saying a change in the color of my living room walls caused two gallons of paint to appear in my house.

  50. A very good article, thank you for that, Brunel was one of our great men!
    Without wishing to beat my own drum, I said on this forum a few weeks ago, that if the weather continues to be mild and wet and dominated by the Atlantic, then someone will blame it on climate change. Right on cue up pops Julia Slingo, she was very quiet during our last three very cold winters and despite officially there being no warming for 18 years, she seems very insistent that indeed there has. It is very worrying when the head of the Met Office cannot differentiate between weather and climate!
    With regard to the debate over HS2, according to Christopher Booker, the reason for HS2 is due to an EU directive, which basically wants fast integrated rail links throughout Europe. Our “government” has no choice in the matter, anymore than they did over gay marriage which was also at the behest of the EU.

  51. A protective layer of sprayed concrete (gunite) could have been applied to the rubble stone wall at a cost of about £90 per square metre, this damage could have been prevented for about £2000.

  52. Gareth Phillips:

    I take severe exception to your post at February 9, 2014 at 4:57 am.

    You assert

    After all, who was worrying about dredging before the floods? It takes something like this to nudge us into action regardless of the reasons for deteriorating weather conditions.

    EVERY BODY WHO WAS LIVING ON THE LEVELS WAS BEGGING FOR THE DREDGING TO BE RESUMED SO THEY WOULD NOT BE FLOODED!

    I told you that on the other thread. And I explained to you why stopping the dredging was CERTAIN to cause the flooding.

    You now still have the cheek to claim it was”deteriorating weather conditions”!
    No, it was the campaign run by you lunatics who put your imaginary idea of “the environment” above the pleading of the people on the receiving end of your insane ideology.

    But, yes, “It takes something like this to nudge us into action” to oppose the insane ideology of you and your ilk. Some of us have been opposing it for years. Now, as Tony Brown reports above (at February 9, 2014 at 4:23 am), “this” has “nudged” even the government away from your madness and a little of the way back towards sanity.

    Richard

    PS If anybody wants to complain at my restrained language – as they did last time I used the same language to this eco-loon – then they can take a running jump.

  53. Gareth Philips: It’s not a case of “We should be taking action” It is more a case of We (the EA) should have taken/continued taking action.

  54. Gareth, the article you cite from the Telegraph quotes Dr David Lavers as saying:
    “As the atmosphere warms up they will carry more moisture, meaning they will deliver greater rainfall, so flood events will be larger.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/10197566/Flooding-in-winter-to-get-worse-scientists-warn.html

    I suggest this statement is fundamentally misleading and false, because:
    a) There has been no net global warming for about 17 years.
    b) There are early signs of imminent global cooling.

    Furthermore, there is no evidence that current storms are more intense than the historic norm, and global warming has not made them worse.

    Cooler weather, when it arrives due to natural causes, will probably bring more frequent and intense storms.

    I dislike the term “climate change” because it is imprecise, and allows activists to muddle the debate. A recent example was in the USA, where two extreme cold snaps were cited by certain authorities as evidence of global warming.

    The “consensus” of the IPCC and the global warming alarmists is that atmospheric CO2 strongly drives global warming and there will be much more global warming in the future.

    BUT there has been essentially NO global warming in the past approx. 17 years, despite significant increases in CO2.

    In fact, every major dire prediction by the IPCC and the global warming alarmists has failed to materialize.

    In science, the quality of one’s predictive track record is the best objective measure of one’s competence.

    The IPCC and the global warming alarmists have NO successful predictive track record – and hence no demonstrable competence.

  55. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 5:44 am
    “Hi DirkH report you may like to read. It could be immediately dismissed as not being in keeping with skeptic philosophy, but it seems to make sense. If you do accept it, should we be taking any action?”

    Gareth, amongst others, they report the most wind gusts for a January in the last 17 years. I say 17 years because it has not gotten warmer in the last 17 years. So we can agree that temperature, and specifically AGW, is not the driver of this. If the singular event they report is a harbinger of future trends then the only reason can be the grand solar minimum because that is what changed over the last 17 years.

    As we have no technology to influence the state of the sun I suggest you fix your seawalls and dredge your rivers. I think that would be the most reasonable way of action.

  56. climatereason says:
    February 9, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Substitute Met office for Environment Agency and we will be getting somewhere. ‘We thought we were dealing with experts.’ Priceless.
    tonyb

    Hey Anthony (hi there, Anthony filter), that’s Quote of the Week material!

  57. Where what the article — here on wuwt, perhaps? — pointing out “climatology 101″, namely, that temperature differentials drive weather: the more extreme the difference between region A and region B, the stronger the winds blow (down the entropy slope, so to speak). The warmists themselves predict a flattening of the energy slope, with “slight” warming of the tropics to “extreme” warming of the poles, so basic physics says that warming should lead to milder storms.

    Now I notice that many of the historical references in this article date from the Dalton Minimum. If a warmer world should have milder storms, then a colder one should have wilder ones, yes? And here’s solar cycle 24, so very quiet, and the pictures from then & now so similar.

    Will I tell you why warmists cling so desperately to their belief? If humans have the power to cause bad climate change, then humans have the power to create “good” climate, to make it how we want it. If humans don’t have this power, then we are helpless in the face of titanic (in the ancient, mythic sense of that word) forces, at the mercy of Fate.

    We are, of course, individually and collectively. None of us can know if we will live out a full lifespan or get hit by a train (or a storm). The only sane way to live is to come to terms with that uncertainty.

    Plead the science as we will, in dealing with the warmists we are dealing with the existentially terrified. Frightened people don’t reason well.

  58. Alan Robertson said:
    Do you have any actual data to support that claim?

    Then Gareth Phillips says: February 9, 2014 at 4:57 am
    …… there is a substantial amount of data out there which states that this weather is in keeping with a changed climate Here is a reasonable place to start if you are interested in following up the studies. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/10197566/Flooding-in-winter-to-get-worse-scientists-warn.html

    With all due respect, Gareth, that is simply an MSM interpretation of scientific opinion, not data.

    It is one of the great frustrations with climate science that scientists are carefully phrasing their statements along the lines of “…. this type of weather is an indication of the type of weather we expect to see more of in the future in line with our predictions (sotto voice: but we fully acknowledge that statistically, this is currently just another storm/flood/drought) ….

    ..and still the MSM goes to town on it as if it is a statement of terrifying fact.

    Your link is typical of the low art; a convoluted, layered structure of assumptions, models and theorized conclusions. And entirely data free.

  59. Hi Dirk, did you read the other long term data? The GSM is interesting, but we are in a period of exceptional weather which needs to be addressed. We can as you say, we ensure sea walls are robust, that rivers where appropriate are dredged, but these are only part of the answer. If the Met office report is valid, and I have no reason to suspect it is not, it’s a new ball game.
    Measures we took in the past to defend the coasts and low lying areas are no longer valid, agriculture will need to adapt, transport links will have be considered. There is much to be done. Some people may whine that river dredging is the answer to everything without realising that is a part of the solution, but only one factor. There is much else to be considered. However, before all that can be done it has to be recognised that things have changed, and we may not return our genial climate for a long time. I accept you consider the current weather to be due to solar activity, I don’t agree, but I believe that is a much more positive statement than to stick one’s head in the sand and say there is no problem, nothing has changed, all is normal. Once a problem is recognised, we are on the road to adaptation.

  60. Hi MarkX, Have look at the Met office data I posted for more detailed and objective studies and data. The Telegraph was meant to give an in initial briefing and links, not conclusive studies. Generally speaking the right wing press is a poor source of reliable detailed data, but they can be a start for sceptics to explore an issue.

  61. Gareth Phillips:

    re your delusional post at February 9, 2014 at 6:38 am.

    You say

    I accept you consider the current weather to be due to solar activity, I don’t agree, but I believe that is a much more positive statement than to stick one’s head in the sand and say there is no problem, nothing has changed, all is normal. Once a problem is recognised, we are on the road to adaptation.

    Nothing has changed!
    Weather continues to vary within the limits it has always had during the holocene.
    Read the article by Tony Brown above this thread.

    There certainly is a problem. Some of us have recognised it and “are on the road to adaptation” because we proclaim that the best way to adapt is to ridicule you, those who ‘think’ like you, and the delusional assertions you make.

    Such “adaptation” has been inadequate with the result that we have had the disasters which are the subject of this thread.

    Richard

  62. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 5:44 am

    . . . should we be taking any action?

    If you mean mitigation of CO2 emissions, any effective action will have to be global, meaning “we” will have to include china and India. If it doesn’t any mitigating action the rest of us take will be a costly futility.

  63. rtj1211 says lots of things!!!!

    : Why no real name, I loathe this practice of using meaningless initials.

    I had to read your assertions twice, after which I wondered how on earth you came to write such nonsense. If you dislike misinformation so intensely as you claim then it hardly makes sense to present the same. It is easy to find out that the city of London contributes more than its fair share to the national economy, without this money the Exchequer would be totally unable to pay its bills never mind build the proposed rail links. As for your references to our many faults, well what is there to say, if you live here leave, if you do not, never come.

  64. Big coastal storms damage infrastructure on coastlines. Yet infrastructure is always built, and rebuilt there. Rail lines have always had issues with grade. Low flat or gently rising land works well. You get lots of valuable usage at relatively low construction cost, but from time to time nature will intervene. So save a bit for the obvious need for infrequent emergency repair, and do your maintenance.

    As we are talking about government, however, thus endeth the fairy tale.

    I’d wager that every line built on a coast or in a flood plain has a disaster story — but clearly, in the real world, the cost-benefits of putting lines in harms way works out.

    Which is why, in the real world, we don’t end up with much ‘high-speed’ rail. The cost-benefits don’t really work. Please forgive the exerable pun….that train has left the station and there is little profit in reliving the 19th century.

    Ad-hoc “trains” of sometimes-self-driving cars moving in efficient unison where reasonable, and with individual freedom where useful will evolve normally and their inherant logic will drive most short haul people transport from the market…is one reasonable direction for the future…there are others.

    Living in people pods, surround by a restored nature and a restored and benign climate, moving inter-pod by high speed rail, managed for our benefit by an omnipotent and beneficient governnment….somewhat less likely.

    300 legislators can bloviate for years , and 30 workmen will patch the track so the trains can run. It was always thus.

  65. That would be good Roger if we could get China and India on board, but I suspect that would be a challenge to say the least. The action I was discussing is at UK level. We may not be the primary cause of the deteriorating climate, but we a certainly a victim of it, so the place to start any action is at home. In a perfect world I would like to see a reduction in emissions across the world where it can be achieved with harming wellbeing, but I don’t think that is going to happen in my lifetime.
    So we are left with what I believe are the impacts. Hopefully everyone will have had a look at the Met Office report which confirms that no one weather event can be correlated to climate change and much of the reasoning is based on ‘likelyhoods’ in a given situation. Sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm in the last 100 years. With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, a further 11-16cm of sea level rise is likely by 2030. This equates to 23-27cm of total sea level rise since 1900 So things are panning out as predicted, we are seeing the effects, but we cannot address the problems on any long term basis unless, as in other aspects of life, we acknowledge that we have a problem. May take a while to respond as the Rugby has just started!

  66. Bwahahahaha, Gareth! I love it. We, the UK should take unilateral ‘action against AGW’ – and that will stop the Channel from rising? And not the China Sea? That’s what I conclude from your rant. Brilliant. you should apply for the soon to be vacant head of the EA.

  67. Gareth, I read the Met article, and it’s full of unsupported assertions and assumptions. For just one example of outlandishness, there’s this:

    “Sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm in the last 100 years.
    With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, a further 11-16cm
    of sea level rise is likely by 2030.”

    Note the use of “already risen by about 12cm in the last 100 years.” That comes out to 1.2mm/year, which is the same rate as has ever been measured, but the usage of “already risen” makes it sound ominous. “With the warming we are already committed to” is an assertion; there has been no warming for at least the past 17 years, nor any evidence that there is some amount more we are due. Finally, to get a further 11-16cm in the next 16 years means the rate will have to jump to 6.9-10.0mm/year to get there. Has anyone measured a 475% increase in sea level rise anywhere in the world, much less in England? I think we know the answer to that one.

  68. About the flooding in Somerset politicians arw now throwing the Environment Agency under a bus:


    The Environment Agency has faced criticism that it has not done enough to help those affected.

    Repeated calls for dredging were made to government departments by farmers and others in the region at least six months ago but funding was declined.

    The area has not been dredged – a process which removes silt from river channels so that water can flow through – since the late 1990s, according to Prime Minister David Cameron who visited the area on Friday.Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Pickles, who has now been put in charge of the government’s flood defence, said: “We made a mistake, there’s no doubt about that.”We perhaps relied too much on the Environment Agency’s advice.”I think we recognise now that we should have dredged and I think it’s important now that we get on with the process of getting people back into their houses, and really do some serious pumping.”

    He added: “I apologise unreservedly and I’m really sorry that we took the advice, we thought we were dealing with experts.”

    The last sentence especially noteworthy. Shape of things to come?

  69. Dame Julia Slingo said the variable UK climate meant there was “no definitive answer” to what caused the storms.
    ===================
    Surely we had storms in the past. What caused them? Are we suggesting that the mechanism that caused storms in the past is not longer with us? That some new mechanism is causing storms? What caused the old mechanism to stop causing storms? What was the old mechanism?

  70. Gareth Phillips:

    At February 9, 2014 at 7:11 am you say

    Sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm in the last 100 years. With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, a further 11-16cm of sea level rise is likely by 2030. This equates to 23-27cm of total sea level rise since 1900

    The sea level change along the English Channel is isostatic rebound.

    During the last ice age Scotland was covered in kms thickness of ice. The weight of ice pushed Scotland down into the mantle and Southern England tilted up. The ice went about ten thousand years ago so Scotland began to come back up and Southern England started to go back down. That recovery from the weight of ice continues and is why sea level is rising relative to the South Coast of England. And sea level is falling relative to Scotland.

    Stopping the isostatic rebound requires cooling to put the ice back on Scotland.

    And there is NO “committed warming”. The committed warming has vanished along with Trenberth’s missing heat. Perhaps you can tell us if they have eloped together?

    Simply, Gareth, you have spouted yet more lies in promotion of your evil ideology.

    Richard

  71. Similar weather combinations are not unprecedented by any means in the UK, the east coast had similar savagery inflicted on it in the 50′s.
    As has been said by other”s the real story here is of neglect and ‘green doctrine’, of sea walls not maintained or updated. Of many trees cut down that would have held water, of building on flood plains.
    For just a couple of past ‘extreme’ weather events I recall from my own childhood in Bristol and surrounds:

    http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Undefined-Headline/story-11274338-detail/story.html

    http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/day-rains-came/story-11251988-detail/story.html

    Back then of course the somerset levels were being managed properly..

    Aidan

  72. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 7:11 am
    we cannot address the problems on any long term basis unless, as in other aspects of life, we acknowledge that we have a problem.
    ==================
    Everyone I read on this site agrees there is a problem. Little or no money is being spend on maintaining public infastructure. Instead it is being squandered on headline grabbing.

    for example, say you build a new house. The house has a roof that protects it from rain. Depending on how well it is built, the roof should last 20 years. Then you need a new roof.

    Now you may believe it will rain more in the future due to climate change, or it may rain less, but in reality that is all a nonsense. It doesn’t matter if it will rain more or less. What matters is that it will rain and you better have enough money in 20 years to replace the roof or your house will be destroyed by rain.

    So in the end there is no purpose to delay or debate over what is causing the rain, because no matter what you do it will still rain and you will still need a new roof. So when politician stand around pontificating about cliamte change as an excuse, that is all it is. An excuse for doing nothing until the roof falls in, then their excuse is that climate change caused the roof to fail.

    No one needs to acknowledge that rain is a problem. We know rain is a problem and more frequent rain or less frequent rain isn’t going to change that. The existing infrastrucutre exists for a reason. It is a nonsense to sit around and say the builders didn’t know what they were doing, that we know better, that we don’t need to make repairs.

    The people that came before us, that built the world around us, they did it for a reason. Many of those reasons are now hidden from us, protected as we are from the natural environment by this very infastructure. So we have largely forgotten many of the reasons why things were built as they were. But to assume that since those dangers no longer exists, simply because they are hidden by what has been built, therein lies the problem

  73. Gareth said;

    ‘The GSM is interesting, but we are in a period of exceptional weather which needs to be addressed.’

    Yes, exceptional according to the last few decades. Exceptional in a historic context-even the relatively short history of this line(1846) no its not.

    Regarding sea levels, they have been rising since around 1700 after reaching their previous peak around 1300. Sea levels oscillate around a 1 metre or so basic level. We are currently still somewhat below Roman levels. What confuses the issue is the land rising or falling. For us to reach that UP TO 160mm rise in the next 15 years sea levels would need to increase from an annual rate of around 1mm a year (according to tide gauges) to around 10mm a year. Do you really think that is likely? Satellites have a very short and unreliable history concerning sea levels, one of the problems being that they don’t measure the height at the coast hence the use of tide gauges.

    I wrote about sea level rise here;

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/07/12/historic-variations-in-sea-levels-part-1-from-the-holocene-to-romans/

    That was an edited version of a much longer article here;

    http://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/document.pdf

    As regards climate variability, the period pre 1850, which I research thoroughly as one of my special interests, has far worse incidences of extreme weather than post 1850. I wrote about that here.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/01/a-short-anthology-of-changing-climate/

    We need to build in resilience to our structures and looking at the extremes of the past is probably a good indicator of what MAY happen in the future.
    tonyb

  74. Good to see posters found the quote from the `Met office report interesting enough to respond. Here is another quote supporting the change in climatological events manifesting as damaging rainfall and storms in the UK and cold weather in North America. Interestingly most posters from North America acknowledge the cold and snow cover is very unusual, but attribute this to alternate explanations. Hopefully Pottymouth will not have another fit when he sees the quote and scream and scream until someone cares. The whole report is well worth a read, I’d be really interested in a critique from the other side as it were if there are any volunteers. By the way France 9 Italy 3, half time.
    A comprehensive study of trends in storminess, for the period 1871-2010 from an ensemble of reanalyses by Wang et al. (2013)12 provides some important insights. They show a robust signal of increasing numbers of strong winter cyclones and with increasing intensity for the high latitude North Atlantic (Figure 21), covering the region to the north of the UK and including Iceland. This is associated with a reduction in storminess further south and supports a wide body of evidence for a poleward shift of the Atlantic storm track.

  75. Excellent, Tony.

    As crosspatch says: @ February 9, 2014 at 12:27 am

    The ultimate problem is that politicians don’t get as much praise for maintaining existing infrastructure as they do for building new. There is no glory in shoring up…
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The USA had the same problem with the New Orleans Leeves and the mess on the East Coast from Sandy. Politicians are NOT doing the job they are supposed to. Instead they are wasting taxpayer money on crony pet projects instead of updating the country’s infrastructure.

    The Spectacular Failure of the Outfall Canals in New Orleans during Katrina

    Myth Busters by Levees.org

    One of their PDFs at the above link shows this from a FOIA in the USA

    Summary Statistics: Taken from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program Files
    Number of counties with levees: 883
    Percentage of nation’s counties with levees: 28.06%
    Population living in counties with levees: 156,615,630
    Percentage of nation’s population living in counties with levees: 54.83%

    Now that is a real eye opener!

    It might be interesting to do the same sort of FOIA in the UK and other countries.

    (The internet must be turning into a real headache for the politicians I bet as the sheeple grab the reins back.) {:>)

  76. Excellent article as always Tony !!! I am grateful for the amount of research you do. The historic records are completely inconvenient for the purveyors of misinformation. Keep up the great work.

    I feel sorry for Gareth. He (like many other alarmists who have come and gone) is clearly unable to recognize propaganda and falls victim to it every time. He does not question the weasel words used in the articles he presents as evidence and is unaware of his place in history and the importance of historic records. The articles he presents are made for him. The lad is not to bright. Hence, my sympathy for him. It must be terrible not knowing when one is being manipulated.
    Gareth, for your own sake, be more skeptical.

  77. @ Climatereason. Thanks for that, I agree, these things have previously occurred. The difference is that the world then was a very different place , much lower populations and less crowding. The recording of those times is also not as accurate as currently available, so I agree, these things also happened in the deep time scale, but would you be reassured when Vesuvius rumbles that it was not too much to worry about as it had happened before?.Or if the Ice caps advanced, would we also say, don’t worry, it’s happened before? Ultimately most things have happened previously in the history of our planet, but we need to look at the here and now and acknowledge we have a problem which is still evolving. Previous defences are just not going to be enough.

  78. hunter says on February 9, 2014 at 4:46 am
    Environmental and climate change based policies are leading to bad government policy.
    _________

    All too true Hunter.

    And these imbecilic enviro-loon policies are causing human suffering, wasting scarce global resources and costing lives.

    My sincere sympathies to the good people of the Somerset Levels.

    Southern Alberta was flooded this summer, and we are still recovering from the devastation. The disruption in peoples’ lives was extreme, with many losing their homes and all their cherished family photos, mementos and belongings. Fortunately there were few fatalities.

    On a positive note, tens of thousands of volunteers worked for months to clean up the mess. I worked with a group that included four Members of the Canadian Parliament and the wife of our Prime Minister, cleaning the silt out of flooded homes – there were no TV cameras – just long days of hard dirty work.

    Recently there was a rail disaster in Lac Megantic Quebec where 47 people were incinerated when an oil unit-train derailed in the town. I suggest that those who opposed the Keystone XL pipeline share some responsibility for their deaths. We have always known that pipelines are safer and better than the alternatives. The opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has been political and destructive, and has nothing to do with the environment.

    I was involved in the early days of the environmental movement, but today’s environmental movement has been taken over by politically motivated extremists. It now takes longer to approve a major project than to build it, which is ridiculous. We need to set a reasonable limit on the time it takes to for environmental approvals. I suggest 6 to 12 months would be appropriate.

    We should also hold the environmental extremists legally responsible for the damage they have caused society. I have made specific proposals to my USA friends that may bear fruit – watch this space.

    My greatest concern for the UK and Western Europe is described below, from a previous post:

    So here is my real concern:

    IF the Sun does indeed drive temperature, as I suspect, Baroness Verma, then you and your colleagues on both sides of the House may have brewed the perfect storm.

    You are claiming that global cooling will NOT happen, AND you have crippled your energy systems with excessive reliance on ineffective grid-connected “green energy” schemes.

    I suggest that global cooling probably WILL happen within the next decade or sooner, and Britain will get colder.

    I also suggest that the IPCC and the Met Office have NO track record of successful prediction (or “projection”) of global temperature and thus have no scientific credibility.

    I suggest that Winter deaths will increase in the UK as cooling progresses.

    I suggest that Excess Winter Mortality, the British rate of which is about double the rate in the Scandinavian countries, should provide an estimate of this unfolding tragedy.

    As always in these matters, I hope to be wrong. These are not numbers, they are real people, who “loved and were loved”.

    Best regards to all, Allan MacRae

  79. Silver ralph says:
    February 9, 2014 at 1:13 am
    Thanks Blair, you were the biggest political waste of space the UK has ever had the misfortune to be governed by.
    Don’t mention the war! Half a million Iraqi’s killed (most of them children) by the illegal invasion by Blair and Bush.

  80. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:04 am

    @ Climatereason. Thanks for that, I agree, these things have previously occurred. The difference is that the world then was a very different place , much lower populations and less crowding. The recording of those times is also not as accurate as currently available, so I agree, these things also happened in the deep time scale, but would you be reassured when Vesuvius rumbles that it was not too much to worry about as it had happened before?.Or if the Ice caps advanced, would we also say, don’t worry, it’s happened before? Ultimately most things have happened previously in the history of our planet, but we need to look at the here and now and acknowledge we have a problem which is still evolving. Previous defences are just not going to be enough.”

    This is a great example of the convoluted and backwards thinking. How many climate changes has mankind been through, and yet we remain. Gareth, your loathing for mankind is showing.

  81. @David, note that when using the words ‘not to bright’ the correct spelling is ‘not too bright’ Grammar is so important when commentating on a persons IQ don’t you think? I’ve also been posting here for a few years, in fact longer than most people here today. It would be easy for me to post on websites that accept the science, but that is a bit like preaching to the choir, it’s a good challenge to debate in a forum where one is the only person proposing a point to a group of sometimes abusive opponents. You have to be pretty confident in your own beliefs to do it. Try it on one of the opposing sites, challenge yourself, be brave, if you really believe what you say is correct it can be a very sobering experience. Posting here for a skeptic is easy.

  82. Gareth, even the brightest here have made grammar errors. Please show me one of your posts from say, three years ago. I do not recall seeing your name here before three months ago.

  83. Gareth reveals his short stint on WUWT? Had he been here for as long as he claims, he would know that the vast majority of us have been censored at alarmist sites. Unrealclimate has NEVER allowed even ONE of my posts. All were reasonable and polite, but thoroughly inconvenient. Same at SkS. Same at Desmogblog. Gareth, you may want to stop digging.

  84. Good Lord! These days it seems that if one gets more sand up their arse after a day at the beach it’s because of climate change!

  85. @ClimateReason
    I’d only read a line quoted out of context, and not read the post by rjt1211, which I regrettable referenced in an earlier post. For that, Sir, I apologize. I do not wish to give any credence to that person’s words vis a vis your excellent article, the subject of this thread.

  86. Gareth could you please tell me the ideal Co2 level? There must be some historical Co2/climate relationship to indicate an ideal level.

    What mitigating factors would come into play if we go under the level. Is there a level we should not go under? Plants have an interest.

  87. Gareth Phillips

    For you 1850 is “deep time”?

    Oddly I didn’t notice anything above isostatic rebound in your replies, other than puerile abuse followed by silence on the idiotic sea level story.

    But of course the AGW Khmer Vert, of which you are apparently now spokesman, dont believe in ice ages do you? Only in a static unchanging Edenic “preindustrial” climate. You can argue, just like 6-day creationists, that nothing is really clear so long in the past.

    You comment on current high population density hints at you underlying motivation of misanthropic Ludditism.

    Enjoy the 6 nations BTW – are you Welsh?

  88. This was linked at Bishop Hill: http://cehsciencenews.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/record-breakers-climate-change.html

    The story there is the same as most scientifically-based conclusions: not extreme. The theoretical idea that extreme rainfall events will increase is borne out by some studies, but mostly using localized gauges rather than widespread events. It is not definitive. There is no trend in significant river floods, in any case events are too sparse to come to sound conclusions.

    Costs and other effects of extreme weather are flat or slightly declining worldwide, see: http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/2013.38.pdf

    The is an notion that “atmospheric rivers” will somehow increase due to “low Arctic sea ice” or Arctic warming, or some related factor that allegedly slows the polar jet and makes it more wavy. But that is a particularly half-baked idea as amply pointed out in other threads here. The man problem with that idea is that climate models all predict the opposite will happen in the long run.

    If the one inch per decade sea level rise is a problem over there, please let us know, so we can take up a collection and contribute a few dollars per year to help mitigate.

  89. Gareth Phillips:

    You provide yet another of your delusional posts at February 9, 2014 at 8:14 am.

    Most of us here are opposed to AGW because we support and promote science. It is the pseudoscience of AGW which we refute; e.g. see here

    Your suggestion that we try to post on warmunist propaganda blogs is laughable. Many of us have tried but have been banned for citing empirical data. RC bans anybody who provides scientific information; David Ball says he is banned, Willis Eschenbach is banned, I am banned, etc., etc. etc. Like you, these warmunists refuse to confront reality, ignore it when it is presented to them, and attempt to prevent others from information about it.

    There is NO evidence for discernible AGW; none, zilch, nada. Three decades of effort conducted world-wide at a cost of more than $5 billion per year has failed to find any. Ben Santer tried to pretend he had found some in the 1990s but it was soon observed that he had chosen a selection of data from the middle of a time series and the full data refuted his assertion.

    If you find any evidence for discernible AGW then you will be the first and you will certainly be awarded more than one Nobel Prize for your discovery.

    You are living in a fantasy which exists in your mind. And you are promoting wicked actions on the basis of your fantasy.

    Richard

  90. On another blog I posted a short extract from a Welsh newspaper article on the climate published in 1903 which mentioned in passing a disagreement as to whether an exceptionally wet summer had been caused by sunspots or by “electricity.” If electricity had been the cause then that wet summer would have been an example of man-made climate change!

    The Weather and the Rain. 1903 Smashes Some Records.
    Cambrian 30 October 1903 p3

    You can find consolation for most evil tidings if vou look hard enough, and assuredly there is gloomy comfort in the reflection that never in the lifetime of this generation has it rained before as it has done this summer. Such endless deluge, such ceaseless streams and floods. Some put it down to sunspots — freckles on the face of old Sol, the exact cause of which nobody can define as yet…

    Others hazard a guess that it is the electricity stored up which has wrought the invisible revolution, the consequences of which have turned every street into a running brook, that like Tennyson’s rivulet, goes on for ever. The record of 1879 has long … been broken; the other record – an unofficially registered one, of 1859, I think will break in a couple of days.

  91. gareth said

    ‘The recording of those times is also not as accurate as currently available, so I agree, these things also happened in the deep time scale, but would you be….’

    Nonsense. Historic References need to be checked and ideally put against a scientific paper, but you must agree that weather was of crucial importance to our ancestors as it fundamentally affected every aspect of their lives and they recorded it diligently (with some exaggerations by grandstanders like Pepys). Fortunately Britain has some of the finest and most detailed records in the world and I am working my way through them at such places as the Met Office and the Scott Polar Institute at Cambridge.

    You did not comment on sea level rise. Do you think sea level rise is suddenly going to accelerate immediately ten fold in order to reach the levels you suggest in the time scale you outline? Do you not agree with the evidence showing oscillations in levels or that isostatic rebound etc has a fundamental impact on levels?

    tonyb

  92. Folks,
    Forgive me if this is old news – maybe I missed this earlier in this post or earlier ones, but our Gareth Phillips appears to be a professional with a stake in the promulgation of the “Big Scary Story”. Gareth, this is you, right?

    http://www.sindicatum.com/author/gareth-phillips/

    I was wondering why you are so present, polite, and well, professional (if vague) in your replies. I didn’t take you for a loony (though I’ve run across a few rational seeming ones). I figured you for a paid troll, and I think I’m right on that. But, you are in “The industry”, a lot of what you say makes more sense now.

  93. Surely the point is that back in the day when the infrastructure was built it was adequate for the expected frequency of failure. Today the cost of individual failure is higher and someone needs to take a view on the expense of significant failure vs the expense of engineering against it.

    The only real change has been the investment by man that is at risk. Brunel and the old engineers weren’t wrong in their designs and events are no worse, unfortunately the cost of failure are higher because we forget the extremes over time.

  94. David Ball says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:17 am
    Gareth, even the brightest here have made grammar errors. Please show me one of your posts from say, three years ago. I do not recall seeing your name here before three months ago.

    Hi David, I’d be happy to show you posts from years ago, but I’m not sure how to retrieve them. Any ideas? I was a bit more sceptical in those days until Monckton convinced me that the science was probably correct. By the way , we all make grammatical errors, but it’s amusing to make one when commenting on another posters intelligence I think.

  95. climatereason says:
    February 9, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Your research into extreme WX events prior to 1850 (ie, during the LIA) corroborates the fact that a colder world is stormier than a warmer one.

  96. It gets like a swirling mass of crap being flushed when there is only one post to comment on. Time to go back to programming.

  97. @ Randle Randle Dewees says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:42 am
    Folks,
    Forgive me if this is old news – maybe I missed this earlier in this post or earlier ones, but our Gareth Phillips appears to be a professional with a stake in the promulgation of the “Big Scary Story”. Gareth, this is you, right?

    http://www.sindicatum.com/author/gareth-phillips/

    I was wondering why you are so present, polite, and well, professional (if vague) in your replies. I didn’t take you for a loony (though I’ve run across a few rational seeming ones). I figured you for a paid troll, and I think I’m right on that. But, you are in “The industry”, a lot of what you say makes more sense now.

    Thanks Randle, not one of my papers or comments. You are correct, I do have a few papers to my name, but that is someone different. I’m not a paid lobbyist in this area, but I do lobby on a political basis in other areas. I try an remain polite because I believe that civil discussion brings out the best in people and is the most productive approach. It also drives the trolls crazy which is a bonus.

  98. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Googling your name & WUWT, I found one comment by you from Aug 2011. All the others are from 2013 or this year.

  99. I have a friend who is a civil engineer. She says that she wishes cities would put away a small percentage of tax receipts each year in a maintenance fund to replace various bits of infrastructure as they wear out and fail so that they don’t need to scramble for funds when it becomes a crisis. They seem to do it for roads, but that is about all. Most do not plan in advance for other major infrastructure replacement as it fails due to age. She is also worried that if they actually tried to do that, the fund would get raided for other things before it actually had a chance to perform its function.

  100. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:59 am

    “…It also drives the trolls crazy…”
    _____________________
    In that case, I urge you to seek help from mental health professionals.

  101. Randle

    You could be right. I have no problems with Gareth other than I wish he would actually read the things we bother to post and comment on them, rather than continually opening up new subjects.

    I am looking forward to his comments on the rapid acceleration of sea level rise he seems to be expecting.

    If it IS him he seems to be involved in clean energy. Well Gareth, we could do with a parallel sea wall next to the existing one in which are mounted turbines to capture the energy from the waves and tides. Our MP is interested. Green energy AND a protective sea wall would mean we keep our railway. Can you oblige? :)

    tonyb

  102. From the Met Office website:
    “As yet, there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change to the recent storminess, rainfall amounts and the consequent flooding. This is in part due to the highly variable nature of UK weather and climate.
    Nevertheless, recent studies have suggested an increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms that take a more southerly track, typical of this winter’s extreme weather. There is also an increasing body of evidence that shows that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, and that the rate of increase is consistent with what is expected from the fundamental physics of a warming world.
    More research is urgently needed to deliver robust detection of changes in storminess and daily/hourly rain rates and this is an area of active research in the Met Office. The attribution of these changes to anthropogenic global warming requires climate models of sufficient resolution to capture storms and their associated rainfall. Such models are now becoming available and should be deployed as soon as possible to provide a solid evidence base for future investments in flood and coastal defences.”
    Thank you Tony, for a most enjoyable historical reality-based perspective using contemporary reports – yet the Met Office wants ever more complicated computer ‘models’ to “attribute changes to anthropogenic global warming”!

  103. daddylonglegs says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:34 am
    Gareth Phillips

    For you 1850 is “deep time”?
    Oddly I didn’t notice anything above isostatic rebound in your replies, other than puerile abuse followed by silence on the idiotic sea level story.
    But of course the AGW Khmer Vert, of which you are apparently now spokesman, dont believe in ice ages do you? Only in a static unchanging Edenic “preindustrial” climate. You can argue, just like 6-day creationists, that nothing is really clear so long in the past.
    You comment on current high population density hints at you underlying motivation of misanthropic Ludditism.

    Enjoy the 6 nations BTW – are you Welsh?

    HI Dadylonglegs. I can’t comment on your reference to AGW Khmer vert as I’m not familiar with the group and would need to do a Lit. search to update.
    Yep, I’m Welsh, so the six nations is a bitty of a trial at the moment. The Irish game was a bit of a disaster for us, still we live in hope. But back to the conversation.

    By deep time I mean back to ice ages etc, In other words, pretty well anything has happened before on the planet of ours. I’ve also tried to convey the idea that just because something has happened before does not mean that it is not a problem now, and extreme weather events may have well happened before, even in living memory, but they are becoming more frequent in a different situation resulting in a much more damaging impact.
    With regard to Glacial rebound, I completely believe in to, we see it all around us. Castles in Wales show some great examples, but that does not mean that sea levels are not also rising. My point about population density is that it facilitates greater negative impact in any climatic event. I referred to Vesuvius earlier. It has erupted previously, famously burying Herculaneum and Pompeii and causing major loss of life. However, if the same pyroclastic flow occurred today, the deaths would be of an unknown magnitude worse due to population expansion. It’s the same event, it’s happened before, but the impact is potentially very different. By the way, apologies for not answering every post individually, I’ve tried to look at the general themes and include them in this response. By the way, anyone read the Met office paper yet? It answers a lot of the questions being posed here.

  104. I am praying for snow, because when that happens all the AGW supporters become very quiet!

    There is nothing unusual about the weather we are having, it is a typical British winter when the jet stream is running north and pulling in wet weather from the Atlantic.This weather is certainly not unprecedented, what is making things dramatically worse is that rivers have been allowed to silt up and flood plain land has been built on, so there is nowhere for the rain to go, that is why there is flooding.
    The climate in the UK is great, but the weather is terrible!

  105. Randle Dewees:

    Sincere thanks for your information in your post at February 9, 2014 at 8:42 am.

    Clearly, I was mistaken in thinking Gareth Phillips was a sincere but deluded eco-loon. In fact he is a professional troll promoting ‘green’ investments and is using WUWT with its large readership to advertise those business interests. This explains why he repeatedly ignores what has been said to him and pretends he has not said falsehoods when called on them.

    So, he is not the sad little man seeking self-worth by promoting a ’cause’ whom I had thought him to be. And he is not blind to the sufferings imposed on others by the things he promotes: he does not about such things.

    Gareth Phillips is now exposed as being a dishonest businessman seeking to promote his business interests with no regard to the suffering imposed on others by the actions of himself and his business associates. And he is using WUWT to promote those business interests.

    I think it important that all the comments from Gareth Phillips are considered in light of what he is and why he says what he does.

    Thankyou, Randal. You have been most helpful.

    Richard

  106. crosspatch on February 9, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I have a friend who is a civil engineer. She says that she wishes cities would put away a small percentage of tax receipts each year in a maintenance fund to replace various bits of infrastructure as they wear out and fail so that they don’t need to scramble for funds when it becomes a crisis.

    I’m sure many like myself find it alarming that infrastructure items can be neglected and ignored with no-one accountable. A country’s whole infrastructure should be like an airliner – every single component on a monitered schedule of inspection and replacement.

    If it means more cost and employment, so be it.

  107. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:54 am

    David Ball says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:17 am
    Gareth, even the brightest here have made grammar errors. Please show me one of your posts from say, three years ago. I do not recall seeing your name here before three months ago.

    Hi David, I’d be happy to show you posts from years ago, but I’m not sure how to retrieve them. Any ideas?

    David, he’s been around. Gareth, it’s not too hard to find early posts, The best I was able to do was Google |”Gareth Phillips” 2010 -2013 site:wattsupwiththat.com| and then skim the hits for the earliest month of your 2010 comments. What I found is at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/22/bill-oreilly-hosts-bill-nye-the-science-guy-and-accu-weathers-joe-bastardi-in-fox-news-debate/#comment-325915 but you were snipped.

    There was another comment by “Gareth”, I don’t know if that were you. I also saved http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/19/ash-cloud-models-overrated-a-word-on-post-normal-science-by-dr-jerome-ravetz/#comment-372027 (not snipped) which also has a comment by just “Gareth”.

    I could hunt down my first comment in 2008. I think it was quickly followed by a request to fix a stupid typo I made.

  108. The problem is deep. First the politicians you speak of are more likely than not to be baby boomers. When you speak of history to a boomer and the date that you reference is prior to their childhood, they have no idea what you are talking about. Anything prior to the formation of the earth and universe, ie prior to 1948 is irrelevant. You are wasting your time.

  109. Gareth Phillips

    Thanks for your reply. In terms of defense against weather extremes there is less at issue between climate camps than the heated rhetoric would suggest. Does one believe in anthropogenic global warming? Or is recent warming natural in a chaotic oscillating climate? In either case the conclusion is the same – more defense needed.

    France are looking ominous again this year.

  110. Live by the sea, live on the sea’s terms.

    If you do not want the truth of the stroms known, turn the cameras off when the strom comes.

    The fishing is easy most of the time but when the stroms come and throw the fish in your face so hard the scales cut your eyes you come to tears.

    Little does time know of your tears.

  111. DaveF says: @ February 9, 2014 at 1:14 am

    All three main political parties in the UK seem to have decided that the rural vote does not count and it is more profitable to court the tree-huggers that live in cities.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Same here in the USA and a lot of other countries.

    Beside the rural people know what reality is while the city types are wrapped in cotton batting from birth and protected from reality. That makes the city types much easier to sway using emotion and propaganda. Reality is a foreign concept to them.

  112. climatereason says:
    February 9, 2014 at 9:04 am
    Randle

    You could be right. I have no problems with Gareth other than I wish he would actually read the things we bother to post and comment on them, rather than continually opening up new subjects.
    I am looking forward to his comments on the rapid acceleration of sea level rise he seems to be expecting.
    If it IS him he seems to be involved in clean energy. Well Gareth, we could do with a parallel sea wall next to the existing one in which are mounted turbines to capture the energy from the waves and tides. Our MP is interested. Green energy AND a protective sea wall would mean we keep our railway. Can you oblige? :)

    Hi Tony, I’ll do my best, not my specific area, but which country are you in? Is this the Swansea proposal, Lyme Regis? ? I’ll also try and avoid opening up new subjects, I think it was the Met office report that referred to rising sea levels and the ever reliable motormouth who dived in on the subject with all guns blazing. Happy to discuss rising sea levels, though I’m reluctant to divert from the primary theme here of weather events becoming more frequent. I did include a point in my post responding to DadyLongLegs, but I imagine you want references etc? With numerous people responding and many challenging my posts it’s sometimes difficult to keep to one theme, so please bear with me.

  113. From the Met Office:
    ‘There is also an increasing body of evidence that shows that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, and that the rate of increase is consistent with what is expected from the fundamental physics of a warming world.’

    This being the same Met office that predicted ever-increasing water-shortages in England and had ads on London buses carrying drought warnings, amusingly photographed sloshing through flooding roads and pouring rain during 2012?

  114. Gareth Phillips:

    At February 9, 2014 at 9:58 am you say

    I think it was the Met office report that referred to rising sea levels

    NO! That is another of your lies!
    YOU raised the issue and used a quotation from the Met Office to do it.

    As your Nemesis, I used my “motormouth” to point out that sea level rise in the English South Coast is mostly isostatic rebound. You conveniently ‘forgot’ about the subject and ignored requests from others for you to address it.

    I am surprised that an employed shill like you does not have a briefing note on how to reply to a factual scientific refutation of a false point you introduce. Changing the subject does not seem an adequate way for you to earn your pay.

    Richard

  115. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 6:38 am

    … Once a problem is recognised, we are on the road to adaptation.

    I agree. We need to stop speculating about “committed warming” and start with some committed railroad engineering.

    Do you think this would be a good fit for Rajendra Pachauri? I know he was more into propulsion than railroad construction and it’s been a while since he switched to more profitable endeavors. On the other hand, he may still know some competent ex-colleagues in India who know how to build and maintain railroad beds. There is also a lot of excellent information on the internet. He is a crafty man and I think he could pull it off if he put his mind to it.

  116. Peter says: @ February 9, 2014 at 2:45 am
    I suggest you read what Geologist William McClenney has to say:
    Comment 1

    Comment 2

    He more fully explains what he is talking about in his guest posts:
    wattsupwiththat(DOT)com/2011/01/05/on-“trap-speed-acc-and-the-snr/

    wattsupwiththat(DOT)com/2010/12/30/the-antithesis/

    wattsupwiththat(DOT)com/2012/10/02/can-we-predict-the-duration-of-an-interglacial/

    Global Warming is not a real option but severe weather is. (Severe weather is a sign of cooling not warming BTW)

  117. Tony,
    Thanks for that historical perspective,coupled with the endemic political malfeasance that seems prolific in any level of government above the local volunteers. You have an enjoyable writing style, providing snippets of local detail that paints a vivid picture for your readers. “Climate Change” has become the excuse and refuge of every lazy intellectual and politician, to the detriment of all.

    I’ll refrain from offering any further opinion about the situation y’all face in the United Kingdom, as I do not have sufficient knowledge of your social, economic, and political nuanced detail.

    Keep up the good work – more please!
    Mac

  118. Gareth Phillips says:

    February 9, 2014 at 8:04 am

    “@ Climatereason. Thanks for that, I agree, these things have previously occurred. The difference is that the world then was a very different place , much lower populations and less crowding. The recording of those times is also not as accurate as currently available, so I agree, these things also happened in the deep time scale, but would you be reassured when Vesuvius rumbles that it was not too much to worry about as it had happened before?.Or if the Ice caps advanced, would we also say, don’t worry, it’s happened before?”

    The problem with you Gareth, is that you are prescribing solutions which will have the OPPOSITE effect of solving the problems we may face. If you accept that all of these things happened before in the not so distant past, then it is NOT CO2 that is to blame. Driving up the cost of energy immensely and putting people on energy starvation will worsen the ability of people to adapt to weather as is changes thru natural phenomena. People of your ilk think the solution is to control CO2 emissions and that will solve most of the problems with respect to climate change.
    I say BS to that. Much better to have a vibrant economy and a plentiful and inexpensive energy source. If we have that, then building infrastructure to meet the challenges nature throws our way will be much easier to meet.

  119. johnmarshall says: @ February 9, 2014 at 3:27 am

    …. The climate change idea seems to insist that any change will be warming rather than cooling. Julia Sligo, senior scientist for the UKMO, has just claimed that recent poor weather is due to climate change….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Mother Nature is thumbing her nose at Julia again.
    7 February 2014 Record snowfall in the north of Italy has left some people trapped in their homes
    Residents woke up on Friday to find their homes buried beneath several meters of snow. (Doesn’t say how much looks like 2 meters) The snowfall follows similar scenes in neighboring Slovenia and Austria over the last few days and Rare snow blankets Iran’s capital. (Links at same BBC website)

    And on the other side of the world:

    11 dead, 1,200 injured as Japan hit by heaviest snow in decades
    The heaviest snow in decades in Tokyo and other areas of Japan has left at least 11 dead and more than 1,200 injured across the country, reports said Sunday.

    As much as 27 centimeters (10.6 inches) of snow was recorded in Tokyo by late Saturday, the heaviest fall in the capital for 45 years, according to meteorologists…..

  120. daddylonglegs says:
    February 9, 2014 at 9:45 am
    Gareth Phillips

    Thanks for your reply. In terms of defense against weather extremes there is less at issue between climate camps than the heated rhetoric would suggest. Does one believe in anthropogenic global warming? Or is recent warming natural in a chaotic oscillating climate? In either case the conclusion is the same – more defense needed.

    France are looking ominous again this year.

    @Garethman
    Well said that man! Whether an individual believes things are happening due to cooling or, as I believe, warming, the end result is the same. The greatest disservice we can do for the people of the UK and abroad is to ignore the obvious and pretend all is well. To disbelieve the mainstream science of climate change is an individuals right, but to ignore increasing threats to our people from severe weather is unforgivable.
    I suspect you are also spot on with reference to France, their tries against Italy were sublime..

  121. James Schrumpf says: @ February 9, 2014 at 5:42 am

    I’m starting to get annoyed with the “climate change causes extreme weather”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    As usual the lying politicians changed the definition of the word in order to confuse people.

    The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (USA ratified 21/03/94) gives the NEW definition of “Climate Change”

    “Climate change” means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

    http://unfccc.int/essential_background/convention/background/items/2536.php

    Sneaky money grubbers aren’t they?

  122. For weeks very cold air has been moving south from Canada and western Greenland causing major instability over the North Atlantic ocean. This is has been strengthening the jet stream moving East towards the UK.

    This has been the main reason for lows frequently moving towards the UK and at times have been stationary while a big anticyclone system over Europe was reluctant to move. The top link above shows this has now moved into the far right hand side of the chart now.

    Therefore very cold air across the ocean has caused the frequent windy and heavy rain leading to damage and flooding over the UK, especially in the SW. Yet they want to blame climate change on something that shouldn’t be as cold if we had global warming. Sorry but global warming is not causing this and climate change has always been natural. If you keep saying stupid terms that don’t represent the proper meaning, then you deserve stupid responses. No weather events over one season will ever be climate and there is so much variation yearly that people with memories of a gold fish forget what weather was like in the past.

  123. Thanks Tony B.,
    I’ve been wondering how you were doing as I read about these storms. Seems you are fine. It is always a pleasure to read your essays.

    I’ll point out that Paul Homewood at ‘Not A Lot of People ….’ has been doing an almost daily post on the weather related problems and, also, the role of the political class. I second what Mac the Knife says at 10:34 but also encourage readers to check out Paul’s site.

  124. alcheson says:
    February 9, 2014 at 11:09 am

    “…Much better to have a vibrant economy and a plentiful and inexpensive energy source. If we have that, then building infrastructure to meet the challenges nature throws our way will be much easier to meet.”

    Well said alcheson.
    If the politicians of the world would realize this, a lot of these problems could be resolved. Forget the (it’s CO2 only) climate scientists, they left the reservation long ago.

  125. richardscourtney says: @ February 9, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Remember what I suggest about the last guy? same goes.

  126. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Thanks Randle, not one of my papers or comments. You are correct, I do have a few papers to my name

    And they are available?

  127. Colorado Wellington says:
    February 9, 2014 at 10:18 am (replying to)

    Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 6:38 am

    … Once a problem is recognised, we are on the road to adaptation.

    I agree. We need to stop speculating about “committed warming” and start with some committed railroad engineering.

    I would remind all that “being railroaded” (by the likes of apparent carbon-trading promoters like Gareth Philips) is a far different thing than “building railroads” (which ARE a productive and fruitful thing for the world’s poor, hungry, and thirsty needy beings).

    I defy any promoting Gareth’s CAGW religious dogma to show they are in favor of better shelter and highways, more bridges and sewers and roads and food storage, and better food, clothing and shelter, and more economical energy for all.

  128. For Richard S. Courtney, isolated in Cornwall: Owing to the unfortunate absence of the best engineer for repairing the railway, that being Isambard Kingdom Brunel, we will instead happily loan you Asa G. Sheldon, who built parts of the supporting roadbed for the Boston to Haverhill railway in Massachusetts. You can find a copy of his self-promoting autobiography online at http://www.ponyspot.com/asa/asa-sheldon.html .
    Sheldon was fond of using oxen rather than horses for his construction projects. I would imagine that with 12 pair and a good supply of proper stone and some strong helpers he should have your railway back in order within two months.
    Oh dear, Mr. Sheldon passed away in 1870, a mere 11 years after Brunel. You will have to find someone else, or take on the work yourself.

  129. until alarmists define the difference between weather expected from a cooling planet, compared with weather from a warming planet, then their claims are always pseudoscience. The observed scientific facts partly from history and the Earths weather/climate mechanisms are as follows.

    A warming planet causes smaller temperature difference between the pole and tropics, leading to a jet stream further north in the northern hemisphere. This causes less severe weather especially with the jet stream covering smaller surface area of the planet. This leads to more cyclonic systems further north with less north/south flows.

    A cooling planet causes larger temperature difference between the pole and tropics, leading to a jet stream further south in the northern hemisphere. This cause more severe weather especially with the jet stream covering larger surface area of the planet. This leads to more cyclonic systems further south with more north/south flows.

  130. Allan M.R. MacRae says: @ February 9, 2014 at 8:04 am

    …And these imbecilic enviro-loon policies are causing human suffering, wasting scarce global resources and costing lives.

    ….I was involved in the early days of the environmental movement, but today’s environmental movement has been taken over by politically motivated extremists. It now takes longer to approve a major project than to build it, which is ridiculous. We need to set a reasonable limit on the time it takes to for environmental approvals. I suggest 6 to 12 months would be appropriate.

    We should also hold the environmental extremists legally responsible for the damage they have caused society. I have made specific proposals to my USA friends that may bear fruit – watch this space…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    All that bears repeating.

    Like you I was involved in the early days of the environmental movement and like you my main worry is cooling. We are so unprepared for that possibility it is mind boggling not to mention lethal.

    Just one example is the fact that the USA did away with it’s strategic grain reserve in 1996 and we are now burning any excess grain as biofuel. A comment I ran across mentioned the grain silos have since been destroyed but I have not been able to verify. (After 20 years I doubt it matters)

    China, India, and the United States alone account for 46 percent of global grain production; Europe, including the former Soviet states, grows another 21%. “….China produced an estimated 479 million tons of grain in 2012—its largest harvest ever—compared with 354 million tons in the United States. India harvested 230 million tons. The countries in the European Union together produced 274 million tons. The 2012 U.S. grain harvest was 8 percent smaller than the year before….”Global Grain Stocks Drop Dangerously Low as 2012 Consumption Exceeded Production

    Not a good situation.

  131. Pamela Gray says: @ February 9, 2014 at 8:24 am

    ROTFLMAO, That is SOOooo True!

    Make a good tee shirt, or across a bikini bottom. (snicker) Then you KNOW it would be read.

  132. JackW says:
    February 9, 2014 at 10:31 am

    It is a post. Lacking substance or contribution to the thread, but it is a post. 8^D

  133. Some technology is too good and too durable to be merely “green” or “sustainable”. Railways are like that. Aqueducts also.

    Nice piece, Tonyb.

  134. As a resident of Exeter and frequent user of the railway to Dawlish. I am surprised why the sea defence along this exposed stretch has not got a deflecting lip on top of the wall so that waves get deflected away from the trains or why the large boulders installed at Dawlish warren were not carried on to the exposed Dawlish stretch?? . And as Tony states the groynes have been aloud to corrode away??the truth of it is that years of under funding on the railway with patchwork repairs and neglect of the South West by all political party’s is most of the reason,and a matter of when and not if as far as the storm is concerned.

  135. Gail Combs says:
    February 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Just one example is the fact that the USA did away with it’s strategic grain reserve in 1996 and we are now burning any excess grain as biofuel. A comment I ran across mentioned the grain silos have since been destroyed but I have not been able to verify. (After 20 years I doubt it matters)
    ___________________
    All you said is true. Come out here to the great wheat and corn growing regions of the US and see for yourself. Silos that stood row upon row and which dotted the horizon are now few and far between. Even the most marginal soils are being put to the plow and I’ve driven down country roads onto which farmers ran their seed drills a foot or so into the road and are farming the road. The vast majority of shelter belts planted across Kansas and the great plains in response to the Dust Bowl conditions have been ripped out to make room for a few more acres of corn. The topsoil has no protection at all from the winds and rain, but modern agricultural techniques are unconcerned with such trivialities, as the soil is seen as nothing more than an anchor for plant roots and is made sterile for all life except the desired planted crop.

    listening to: Bob Dylan- “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall”

  136. “Gareth Phillips says:

    February 9, 2014 at 8:14 am

    …Try it on one of the opposing sites, challenge yourself, be brave, if you really believe what you say is correct it can be a very sobering experience. Posting here for a skeptic is easy.”

    In case you haven’t noticed Gareth (I am sure you have, but choose to deny), it is the people on the CAGW side that are continually trying to silence all discussion. Want some examples? Mike Mann won’t debate, a couple newspapers and a magazine recently made news by changing their policy to disallow anyone writing any anti-CAGW comments. Many of us are banned at warmist sites. I can give easily give several more examples but I think you get the point.
    Here at WUWT, on the side bar is a prominent list of all the warmist sites readers here are invited to go visit at their leisure. You find NO SUCH list available at warmist sites… they absolutely do NOT want visitors to come here to WUWT, especially people who have not yet become addicted to the koolaid. Wonder why that is? What type of people try to do that?

  137. Excellent article. One point that needs to be brought out is that the issue is one of geology. The red sandstone is a softer rock, and thus vulnerable to erosion.

  138. M Courtney says:
    February 9, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Very good post. There’s a reason why no other line anywhere has been built to be so picturesque.

    Here’s another: ever tried washing your car with sea water every day to see how long it lasts?

  139. Mycroft

    Just round the corner in teignmouth the sea wall built in 1990 starts just as the railway pulls away from the sea, so the sea wall is protecting the esplanade rather than the railway. It has the curved base so waves crash into it, get rebuffed and roll straight into the next incoming wave thereby causing it to break up before it reaches the beach. It works very well and teignmouth saw little more than superficial damage.

    I don’t think any of the railway sea wall has this feature and I suspect all of it is of an ancient vintage. I am surprised as well that the giant boulders seen at the Warren were not continued.

    Mind you the groynes here in teignmouth are in a poor state as well and need replacing. All our sand is in constant transit to Exmouth.
    Tonyb

  140. David Ball says:
    February 9, 2014 at 1:05 pm
    Gareth, some reading for you to do.

    Thanks David, I’ll try and read them on the plane before Tuesdays meetings

  141. RACookPE1978 says:
    February 9, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I would remind all that “being railroaded” (by the likes of apparent carbon-trading promoters like Gareth Philips) is a far different thing than “building railroads” …

    Heh. That is a critical difference.

    Your note on semantics also reminds me that watermelons—at least our American variety—suffer from cognitive dissonance about railroads. They hate the original 18th century railroad builders but love their creation today and promote the new builders.

  142.  

    “Gareth Phillips says:

    February 9, 2014 at 8:14 am

    …Try it on one of the opposing sites, challenge yourself, be brave, if you really believe what you say is correct it can be a very sobering experience. Posting here for a skeptic is easy.” 

    Oh ye of little experience. I have been banned by the Guardian over 12 times. Commenting at the Guardian was easy and I suspect I turned quite a few CAGW believers by pointing them to inconvenient research. To be banned over 12 times shows commitment. In case you were wondering I don’t have shares in fossil fuel companies, I am not a lobbyist, I am not paid by any fossil fuel company. My only interest in fossil fuels is that I use them just like you. They help hospitals treating cancer patients with electricity for example. Surely you would approve? No?

  143. Gareth Phillips thinks we should “accept the science.” He does not seem to have figured out that “Climate Scientists” are nothing more than advocates who got into grad school. Gareth, I worked in the oncology business for a while, what is the best selling brand of couchtop used in the vaults? Everyone in the business knows this, do you? Do you even know what a couchtop is? This is your shibboleth, are you an oncology guy or are you in fact a Carbon Credits wonk?

  144. “Thanks Randle, not one of my papers or comments. You are correct, I do have a few papers to my name, but that is someone different. I’m not a paid lobbyist in this area, but I do lobby on a political basis in other areas. I try an remain polite because I believe that civil discussion brings out the best in people and is the most productive approach. It also drives the trolls crazy which is a bonus.”

    Shoot, it seemed so close, even your writing style was close.

    Anyway, I guess I have to take you as one of those rational seeming loons. My education includes geology – you don’t study that without gaining an appreciation for long time spans and radically changing conditions. I’ve also been around for a while and can remember lots of out of the norm cold winters and hot summers. And I know something about atmospheric science. So I do think you are wrong. I think you are one of those mud wrestlers that struggles just for the struggle.

  145. Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:54 am
    “. . . but it’s amusing to make one when commenting on another posters intelligence I think.

    At this point it appears I am the only one still reading Gareth’s comments.

  146. Gareth claims he has been reading and posting for a long time and then asks Tonyb “which country are you in?
    So in return, I ask Gareth: Which planet are you on?

  147. Gail Combs says on February 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Like you I was involved in the early days of the environmental movement and like you my main worry is cooling. We are so unprepared for that possibility it is mind boggling not to mention lethal.

    Just one example is the fact that the USA did away with it’s strategic grain reserve in 1996 and we are now burning any excess grain as biofuel. A comment I ran across mentioned the grain silos have since been destroyed but I have not been able to verify. (After 20 years I doubt it matters)

    China, India, and the United States alone account for 46 percent of global grain production; Europe, including the former Soviet states, grows another 21%. “….China produced an estimated 479 million tons of grain in 2012—its largest harvest ever—compared with 354 million tons in the United States. India harvested 230 million tons. The countries in the European Union together produced 274 million tons. The 2012 U.S. grain harvest was 8 percent smaller than the year before….” – Global Grain Stocks Drop Dangerously Low as 2012 Consumption Exceeded Production

    Not a good situation.
    ___________

    Thank you for your comments Gail.

    I offer one suggestion for a quick fix – at least for North America.

    I understand that “More than 40% of U.S. corn is now consumed in the production of ethanol.”

    http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/12-01WiseBiofuels.pdf

    I suggest that this offers an immediate opportunity to quickly rebuild the strategic grain reserve by ceasing corn ethanol subsidies and instead using the money to grow grain for storage. I have not run the numbers but they should work over a few years, assuming we start ASAP.

    Your thoughts?

    Best, Allan

  148. John F. Hultquist says:
    February 9, 2014 at 9:06 pm
    Gareth Phillips says:
    February 9, 2014 at 8:54 am
    “. . . but it’s amusing to make one when commenting on another posters intelligence I think.”

    At this point it appears I am the only one still reading Gareth’s comments.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    OK, despite the missing apostrophe and comma in a post questioning someone’s English language skills, his English is far better than his grasp of science.

    So why would anyone read anything by a scientific wanker who thinks you can discern a trend in extreme weather events by looking at one year (and reference Wikipedia no less).
    —–
    Scientific wanker says ” This is a good place to start to see if these weather events are getting more intense.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_extreme_weather_events
    ———

    He’s just another buffoon that thinks he’s a scientist. They come and go on here. I bet he’s got his Mum convinced though.

    Speaking of which, where is RGates these days ?

  149. Gail Combs says on February 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm
    Like you I was involved in the early days of the environmental movement and like you my main worry is cooling. We are so unprepared for that possibility it is mind boggling not to mention lethal.
    ———————————————
    Yes and if there’s one thing the CO2 hoax/f*aud/incompetence has taught us, it is that there’s pretty much no amount of CO2 we can put in the atmosphere to avert it.

    Anguish about that Gareth, since you seem to need to anguish a lot.

    (…… and could you please, pretty please, answer my question on the thread that you slunk away from the other day?)

  150. Compared for example of a very cool Little Ice Age, we now have in the UK and Europe a significant decrease in the number and strength of extreme storms. A increase of temperature and pressure gradients eg. in the LIA (but also probably present – temperature data are not very reliable), as a reaction to cooling, is the main reason for the increase amount and strength of storms, not warming.

    In the Little Ice Age was really powerful storms in the north Europe:
    Very interesting post: “Storminess Of The Little Ice Age” (06.02.14) (http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/storminess-of-the-little-ice-age/):
    “HH Lamb comes to similar conclusions, “ there was a greater intensity, and a greater frequency, of intense storm development during the Little Ice Age”, in his book “ Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe ”.

    … and in southern Europe:
    “It is worth noting, however, that increased storm activity during the LIA was not restricted to northwestern Europe, but was also recorded further south along the Atlantic coast (sic) in The Netherlands (Jelgersma et al., 1995) and northern (Sorrel et al., 2009) and southwestern France (Clarke et al., 2002).”
    … once again I recall: Shah-Hossein et al. (23.12.2013, http://www.schweizerbart.de/papers/zfg_suppl/detail/57/81545/Coastal_boulders_in_Martigues_French_Mediterranean_evidence_for_extreme_storm_waves_during_the_Little_Ice_Age ):
    “The boulders occur up to 100 m [!] inland from the present shoreline [!] …” “Dating of the boulders shows age ranges that correspond to the Little Ice Age (LIA), thus suggesting a relationship between their deposition and the high storm frequency that characterized the LIA.”

  151. Shoveled Feb ’78:

    Your post at February 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm says in total

    For Richard S. Courtney, isolated in Cornwall: Owing to the unfortunate absence of the best engineer for repairing the railway, that being Isambard Kingdom Brunel, we will instead happily loan you Asa G. Sheldon, who built parts of the supporting roadbed for the Boston to Haverhill railway in Massachusetts. You can find a copy of his self-promoting autobiography online at http://www.ponyspot.com/asa/asa-sheldon.html .
    Sheldon was fond of using oxen rather than horses for his construction projects. I would imagine that with 12 pair and a good supply of proper stone and some strong helpers he should have your railway back in order within two months.
    Oh dear, Mr. Sheldon passed away in 1870, a mere 11 years after Brunel. You will have to find someone else, or take on the work yourself.

    Sorry, but I fail to find anything of relevance, interest and/or use in your post. I would be grateful if you were to explain the following.

    What is the relevance of anything you have said to the need to spend money maintaining the railway which is essential to the entire economy of Cornwall and, instead, wasting the money on e.g. covering Cornwall in windfarms?

    In light of the long-ago demise of the engineers whom you advocate, how would you suggest I overcome the environmentalist legislation which prevents me or “someone else” from taking “on the work” when such legislation prevented the people of the Somerset Levels from doing their necessary dredging so they are flooded?

    Why did you spend time making that pointless post to me thus causing me to waste my time reading and replying to it?

    Richard

  152. And what about this piece of forecasting “skill” from the Met. Orifice?

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/m/8/A3_plots-precip-DJF-2.pdf

    Met Office 3-month Outlook
    Period: December 2013 – February 2014 Issue date: 21.11.13

    “The forecast presented here is for the average of the December-January-February period for the United Kingdom as a whole.
    This forecast is based on information from observations, several numerical models and expert judgement.

    The probability that UK precipitation for December-January-February will fall into the driest of our five categories is around 25% and the probability that it will fall into the wettest category is around 15% (the 1981-2010 probability for each of these categories is 20%).”

    How that charlatan, Slingo, can have the bare-faced cheek to talk about the recent run of bad WEATHER as “being consistent with climate change” is beyond me.

  153. philincalifornia says:
    February 9, 2014 at 10:02 pm
    “Speaking of which, where is RGates these days ?

    When R first wrote a comment on this site his nature was in full display. About a dozen folks objected and he apologized but that did not appear before I complained of his manner. He should have ignored that, but did not. After a time and many comments on the 40% increase of a very small number, he returned to his manner of the opening salvo. I had mostly quit looking at his repeats but did see where our host banned further rgates comments. I did not go back to find out why. I have seen his tag elsewhere. Clearly, I do not know much of this story.

  154. Alan Robertson says: @ February 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks for the first person view.

    Many of the bigger farms are now run by corporations who are ‘mining the soil’ they do not care about anything but returning a profit. They do not plant a cover crop to conserve the soil in the winter because that costs money. They certainly do not take the long view such as planting trees for the grandsons’ to harvest. My farm used to have the best soil in the county – over 2 feet of loam according to the 1950 soil survey. It was rented tobacco field and was sold as completely unproductive because it was nothing but bare red clay, It tested as 98% mineral with no organic material (that holds moisture) at all. In the twenty years of running livestock I have managed to add 2 inches of top soil in places.

    I am afraid the destruction of wind breaks and grain silos on the US prairie is going to come back to bite us and probably sooner rather than later.

    A discussion of what was going on from back in 2009: HR 2749: Food Safety’s Scorched Earth Policy

    So yes sterile soil is what is wanted by these idiots.

  155. Allan M.R. MacRae says: @ February 9, 2014 at 9:36 pm
    …I understand that “More than 40% of U.S. corn is now consumed in the production of ethanol.”

    http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/12-01WiseBiofuels.pdf

    I suggest that this offers an immediate opportunity to quickly rebuild the strategic grain reserve by ceasing corn ethanol subsidies and instead using the money to grow grain for storage. I have not run the numbers but they should work over a few years, assuming we start ASAP.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Unfortunately there are economic forces at work that WANT a grain/food shortage. Just search “Land Grab” and add names like Rothschild and Soros

    If you read you can see it is abundantly clear that wealth accumulation beats out starving children any day of the week.

    How Goldman gambled on starvation

    This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn’t afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls it “a silent mass murder”, entirely due to “man-made actions.” Through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations [controlling agricultural futures contracts] were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into “derivatives” that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in “food speculation” was born. The speculators drove the price through the roof.

    In summary, we have record low grain inventories globally as we move into a new crop year. We have demand growing strongly. Which means that going forward even small crop failures are going to drive grain prices to record levels. As an investor, we continue to find these long term trends…very attractive.” Food shortfalls predicted: 2008 (wwwDOT) financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/dancy/2008/0104.html

    Recently there have been increased calls for the development of a U.S. or international grain reserve to provide priority access to food supplies for Humanitarian needs. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) strongly advise against this concept..Stock reserves have a documented depressing effect on prices… and resulted in less aggressive market bidding for the grains.” July 22, 2008 letter to President Bush http://www.naega.org/images/pdf/grain_reserves_for_food_aid.pdf

    Dan Amstutz was president of the North American Export Grain Association.

    They even named an award after him!

    The Amstutz Award is given by the North American Export Grain Association in honor of Dan Amstutz and in recognition of his outstanding and extraordinary service to the export grain and oilseed trade from the United States. Appropriately, the first recipient of this distinguished service award was Mr. Amstutz… naega(DOT)org/?page_id=301

  156. Richard Courtney asks my explanation for why I wasted his time.

    It’s simple, Richard. You and I are in agreement. My offered civil engineers, from 170 years ago, faced difficulties both political and physical, but overcame them. Today’s engineers are totally bound by governmental restrictions and by silly governmental projects such as wind farms.

    I know you cannot do it alone, but surely you are not without friends!

    Get rid of the restrictions, get rid of the EU (that so famously prevented containment of foot-and-mouth disease in Devon several years ago), and stop pouring “investments” into wind farm disasters.

    Meanwhile, rebuild the seawall and the railway line to good engineering standards that both Brunel and Sheldon would applaud. Use oxen, at least for publicity. Ask John and Penny Adie (guiding lights of the Two Moors Festival) for advice. They also have experience in moving heavy objects.

  157. Gareth Phillips says:

    …given that this type of [extreme] weather is likely to become more frequent we need to look at the wider issues… stop quarrelling about the reasons for this change in climate, and learn to adapt to it… we are making things worse… there is a substantial amount of data out there which states that this weather is in keeping with a changed climate…&blah, blah, etc.

    Empirical [real world] evidence and observations show decisively that severe weather events are moderating. They are becoming less severe, and that is a multi-decade trend.

    But when you start off with a false premise, your conclusions will necessarily be false.

    The question is: will you accept reality? Will you accept real world observations? Or will you continue to parrot the pseudo-science you are parroting here?

    Basic physics tells us that our [naturally] warming world will have less severe weather, because it is the difference in temperatures that causes severe weather. Thus, your belief that extreme weather increasing is contradicted by observations:

    click1
    click2
    click3
    click4
    click5
    click6
    click7
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    click9

    That being the case, an honest person would admit that they were given false information. An honest person would see that extreme weather events are not increrasing, and they would reverse their climate alarmism. Honest people would, anyway. Don’t know about you yet.

  158. Shoveled Feb ’78:

    Thankyou for your reply which you provide to me at February 10, 2014 at 10:40 am and explains the intention of your earlier post. Your reply tells me

    Get rid of the restrictions, get rid of the EU (that so famously prevented containment of foot-and-mouth disease in Devon several years ago), and stop pouring “investments” into wind farm disasters.

    That is good advice, but I have one little problem; i.e.
    You omitted to inform me how I could do that.

    Richard

  159. http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/61276?utm_source=CFP+Mailout&utm_campaign=43496f7e44-Call_to_Champions&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d8f503f036-43496f7e44-291114797

    Canadian Government slams the door in the face of Goliath enviro-supporting Rockefellers

    In the ongoing, mammoth underground ‘Rockefeller vs. Canada Battle’, it’s Rockefeller 0, Canada 1.

    You can hear the enviro screams from Canada all the way to the American EPA—latest warrior to join the battle against the long-detained Keystone XL Pipeline.

    Just about everyone in the lib-left mainstream media of both Canada and the U.S.A. are shouting rape because of Canada Revenue’s 2013-2014 audit of high-profile environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation, Tides Canada, Environmental Defence, the Pembina Foundation, Eqiuiterre and the Ecology Action Centre, among others.

    They’re demanding to know “WHY?”

    Though the environmental groups will slice the pie of reasons into thousands of pieces, it’s because the Canadian government finally decided to take a stand for the Canadian Aboriginal people and for Canadian interests.

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