Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
I’ve written before about the crazy claims of “climate refugees”, there’s a list of posts in the notes below. When I set out to write about bogus climate claims, I find myself in what I call a “target-rich environment”. Crazy ideas on the subject are not hard to find. One of the better sources is National Geographic magazine, which can be depended on to mess up just about any climate story.
Their latest is is about Lennox Island in Canada, and is headlined:
This Canadian Island Is Losing Ground But Not Losing Hope
A tiny island off the Atlantic coast is shrinking as the climate warms and the seas rise. But its indigenous people aren’t waiting for global help: They’re taking action now.
Well, guess what? Just like the situation with the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh “Climate Refugees”, once again we’re not dealing with islands made of rock. Nope. Once again, these poor folks live on nothing more than a shifting pile of mud, silt, and sand, located near the mouth of a river.
Now, the National Geografique folks say the following:
A generation ago, the island was 1,300 acres; today, it is 1,100. Once, all of its 79 homes–clustered at the southernmost tip, the island’s high point–were comfortably set back from the beach. Today 10 of them are perilously close to the shoreline as the sea reclaims land.
Well, duh … the high point on the ocean is only about 6-7 metres above sea level. The island is made of mud, silt, and sand. It sits in a rivermouth. Anyone who thinks that such an island will NOT erode and change shape over time is a fool … and the Early Asian Immigrants to that area were far from fools.
Now, the earliest immigrants to the area of Prince Edward Island are unknown. It might have been the Mi’kmaq people, they moved to that area a long, long time ago … but you can be sure that they didn’t make their main home on some tiny offshore mud-flat island. With some digging I found a fascinating study called “Indians and Islanders: The Story of the Micmacs of Prince Edward Island“. It discusses in detail how Lennox Island became a reservation. Back in the day, the Mi’kmaq lived around the Prince Edward Island area, and they were being forced off of their traditional lands by the encroachment of the newcomers. So the Canadian Provincial Government decided that they should be allocated some land for a reservation. Negotiations began in the late 1700’s. From the cited study, they decided:
A small offshore island would be ideal for such a reservation. Its isolation would prevent the Indians from annoying white farmers, protect them from the evils of liquor and enable them to live in something approximating their accustomed way. The most remote, and hence the most attractive spot was Lennox Island off the northwest coast, 1400 acres in extent. This island had been overlooked in the original partition, for only in 1772 was it attached to Lot 12 and granted to Sir James Montgomery. Fanning wrote Montgomery, who gave his permission for the Indians to reside there, and offered to sell his island for £300.
However, the deal fell through. The slow and sad saga continues:
By the year 1800 several Micmac families were established on Lennox Island. They received regular visits from a missionary, the Abbé de Calonne, who began the lengthy task of persuading them to clear land and plant crops. He had them build a chapel to St. Anne, and Lennox Island became the meeting place for the whole tribe every July 26 on the Saint’s day. In 1806 the Abbé petitioned the British government to buy the island for the Indians, “as being the aboriginal owners they had a right at least to have some portion” of their ancestral homeland. Manual labour was now their only hope, Calonne argued, and it would take at least a generation to convert them to farming; the process was hard enough without the knowledge that the improvements they were making were on someone else’s private property. Nothing came of this initiative.
A few Indians maintained permanent residence on Lennox Island, and by 1841 there were twenty five acres cleared, mostly for potatoes. It was not the most attractive place for potential farmers. The trees were mainly fir and spruce, and the soil light, sandy and of inferior quality. Between five and six hundred acres were barrens and swamp; the most attractive feature was the adjoining marsh, which yielded hay for those who had livestock. The Indians had none. The hay and timber proved to be an irresistible attraction to nearby whites who took what they wanted for fodder and fuel despite the protests of the Indians.
Lennox Island, apart from its chapel, was of little importance to the majority of Indians who continued their accustomed way of life as best they could. Only two or three families, principally the Francis family, lived there, while the rest continued to move around, hunting and fishing with diminishing success.
Finally in the 1870s the island was purchased from the owners and deeded as an indian reservation. Curiously, the money was raised privately, it didn’t come from the Province. The study continues with a description of a report of the survey of the property:
His first report arrived somewhat tardily in January 1875. The survey showed that the property contained 1320 acres, of which 1100 were optimistically described as excellent for agriculture;
Now, of course the NatGeo gets this history all wrong. They say:
The Mi’kmaq, among the original inhabitants of Canada’s Atlantic provinces, have lived on Lennox Island, slightly north of Prince Edward Island, for thousands of years.
As you can see from the above, this is balderdash. The Mi’kmaq likely had seasonal hunting camps on Lennox Island, but they have only inhabited it year-round since the end of the 19th century … and then only because they had little other choice.
Now like I said above, the local folks in any given area are rarely fools, which is why the Mi’kmaq didn’t have their main village on some god-forsaken flat pile of shifting sand and silt in the middle of a river. This is the third northern village I’ve written about which is 1) eroding, and 2) has people living on it only because the Later Melanin-Deficient Immigrants forced the Early Asian Immigrants to move there, and 3) is claimed to be a victim of “climate change”. See the posts below for the other unlucky northern contestants, which were Shishmarev, Newtok, and Kivalina. You’d think that at some point the media would wise up … but noooo.
However, I was not satisfied with just the history. Obviously something was happening to the island, some parts were eroding. But as hard as I looked, I couldn’t find any modern measurements of the area of the islands. I was suspicious of the claim that the area of the island had gone from 1320 acres, a precise figure, to “1,000 acres”. Sounded too vague to be true. So I decided to start by looking at the modern dimensions of the island as determined from Google Earth, so I could get an exact value for the claimed “1,000 acres”. I got the image of the island, and I digitized the boundary and the roads. Figure 2 shows that result:
Figure 2. Closeup of Figure 1, showing just Lennox Island itself. The dark blue line shows the outline of the island, and the light blue line shows the principal roads. The south end of the island is the highest end at 7 metres (23 ft) up behind the town.
With that came my first surprise. I worked to the scale that can be seen at the lower left of Figure 2. What I found was that the area enclosed by the blue polygon is not 1,100 acres as the NatGeo folks claim, nowhere near that.
In fact, the blue line encloses an area of 1,307 acres. So somebody didn’t do their homework. The island hasn’t gone from 1,320 acres to 1,100 acres. Instead, the area of the island has hardly changed at all.
But that still left the question of what was going on. Because we know something is going on, the islanders report that the south end of the island around the town is being eaten away, and I believe them.
So I got some old maps of the island to compare with the modern situation. The earliest map is from 1880. It is only available for $19.95, but I used a free blurred version. Figure 3 shows that map with the modern outline overlaid on it.
Figure 3. 1880 map of Lennox Island overlaid with the modern roads, listing the area as 1320 acres. SOURCE
This map was republished in the Atlas of the Province of Prince Island in 1925, using the identical outline but showing the further subdivision of the land into more parcels. It gives a clearer view of the changes in the outline of the island.
There are several clear differences in the shape of the island between 1880 and today. The eastern (right-hand) side has lost a lot of what is described as “Peat Bog” in the 1880 map. The easternmost projecting point has been eroded away entirely, as has the southernmost. On the other hand, the northernmost (top) part of the island has grown by accretion of more mud, silt and sand on the north side, and has moved northwards while losing land on the south side.
Since 1880, the shape of the island has been changing. It is eroding away in some areas and it is accreting in others. It is not disappearing, the total area is little changed.
So let’s be clear about this. What is happening to Lennox Island is happening to thousands of such low-lying offshore river-mouth islands around the world. This change in the outline of the island is totally expected. It is totally predictable. It is the norm. It would only be surprising if such changes did not happen to such an uncompacted pile of sand, silt, and mud.
And the alterations in shape are unending. Just like a meandering river which never maintains the same shape over time, but continually changes its path forever, these islands are similarly constrained to endlessly change in order to persist. They are mere hesitations in the ceaseless flow of silt and soil to the sea, transient islands which are always and perpetually gaining a bit here and losing a bit there.
So I feel compassion for the Mi’kmaq people, shuffled off like so many northern peoples to live on a wholly unsuitable and unstable chunk of dirt. You’d have to be tough and resourceful to live there at all, and seeing the ocean eating away at the island must be both frustrating and frightening.
But that’s the nature of such islands, and it has nothing to do with “climate change”, whatever that might mean. There has been no increase in storms. There has been no acceleration in the rate of sea level rise. What we’re seeing is not a climate drama. It is just another sad tale of the Later Melanin-Deficient Immigrants conquering the Early Asian Immigrants, with the often tragic concomitant upheavals lasting up to the present time.
However, all is not lost. We know a whole lot more these days about coastal engineering than we used to. If I lived there I’d get in touch with someone like Holmberg Technologies or Moffatt & Nicholl. Both of them have worked all over the world, and both of them deal with this kind of problem all the time. I’d get quotes from both companies and see what they thought could be done, and for how much money.
Then I’d dun the Canadian Government to foot the bill, not because of any nonsense about CO2, but because the Mi’kmaq got such a bunk piece of land for their reservation in the first place.
But hey, what do I know, I was born yesterday. All I can do is wish the good Mi’kmaq folks all the best of luck with their northern lives and their lovely island.
My warmest regards to all,
My Usual Request: If you disagree with me or anyone, please quote the exact words you disagree with. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend someone’s interpretation of my words.
My Other Request: If you think that e.g. I’m using the wrong method on the wrong dataset, please educate me and others by demonstrating the proper use of the right method on the right dataset. Simply claiming I’m wrong doesn’t advance the discussion.
The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Climate Refugees:
The Sixth First Climate Refugees 2013-07-02
For years now, folks have searched desperately for the “fingerprints” of human climate change. These are things that are supposed to reveal how and where humans are affecting the climate. One of these fingerprints, which is alleged to be a sure and certain harbinger of the thermal end times, is…
Well, my heart fell when I saw the recent BBC article which proudly proclaimed that the people of Kivalina were slated to become “America’s first climate change refugees” … Figure 1. The Alaskan native village of Kivalina. SOURCE: BBC My heart fell for three reasons. First, because once again we…