Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach.
Near as I can tell, we’re up to the twelfth first climate refugees. Here are the first through sixth first climate refugees, and the seventh, ninth, and eleventh-tenth first climate refugees. Where are the eighth first climate refugees? No clue, it’s hard to keep track of them all.
In any case, according to the UK rag The Guardian, in an article entitled “‘Losing your home is a massive thing’: how the climate crisis came to Norfolk“, the people of Helmsby, Norfolk, are now official climate refugees. The sea is eroding the coastline around their houses. The Guardian says that it’s evil sea level rise from global warming and unspecified (and imaginary) “increased storminess” that are to blame for the problem.
Just one little difficulty. The erosion has been going on for a long, long time. Here’s a photo of 1993 versus 2003.
Figure 1. Helmsby, Norfolk, UK in 1993 (left) and 2003 (right). You can use the slider to compare the two photos in the SOURCE
So … just how much evil sea level rise has occurred in that 30-year period? Here’s the tide gauge data from the nearest tide gauge station, Lowestoft, only about 15 miles (25 km) down the coast.
Figure 2. Title and caption says it all.
Hmmm … 2.56 mm per year, with no sign of the fabled “acceleration” in sea level rise. That rate for thirty years is a whopping three inches (77mm) of sea level rise since 1993. And we’re supposed to believe 3 inches of sea level rise caused that erosion? Get real!
So how about the claimed “increased storminess”? There’s an interesting paper entitled “Northeast Atlantic Storm Activity and Its Uncertainty from the Late Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century“. The abstract says (emphasis mine):
A multidecadal increasing trend in storm activity starting in the mid-1960s and lasting until the 1990s, whose high storminess levels are comparable to those found in the late nineteenth century, initiated debate over whether this would already be a sign of climate change.
This study confirms that long-term storminess levels have returned to average values in recent years and that the multidecadal increase is part of an extended interdecadal oscillation.
In other words, no, it’s not increased storminess, because northeast Atlantic storminess hasn’t increased. So what is the problem?
For once, The Guardian actually takes the daring step of looking beyond the climate hype, saying:
… locals highlight other factors too: dredging sand from the seabed close to the coast, other sea defences disrupting the natural flow of sand along the coast to defenceless Hemsby, even the introduction of non-native species of marram grass, which bind the dunes less effectively than native marram. But most of all, every local blames the loss of homes on the authorities’ refusal to provide hard sea defences, which protect most of this vulnerable coastline but cruelly stop for 1.3km beside Hemsby.
To summarize: we know it’s not the 3″ of sea level rise. We know it’s not “increased storminess”. So the list above contains the likely reasons for coastal erosion in Hemsby.
And once again, the endless meme of “climate refugees” is just more endless climate alarmism.
Given that, what can they do? Well, if I lived in Hemsby, I’d be looking into companies like Holmberg Technologies that specialize in working with the ocean rather than against the ocean to extend beaches and to erosion-proof shorelines. Here’s one of Holmberg’s jobs.
Holmberg uses a very simple and inexpensive system. They lay tubes of reinforced geotextile fabric at right angles to the shore, from above high tide out into the deep. Then they pump concrete into the tubes. That’s it. Here’s the inventor, Dick Holmberg, with a single tube (red arrow).
They lay two tubes side by side and pump in the concrete. These set up as two ovals side by side. After they set hard, a third tube is laid on top between the two and pumped full. Repeat at intervals along the beach you want to protect.
What Holmberg realized was that when the water slows down, suspended solids drop out. So he didn’t have to fight the ocean. He didn’t have to stop the ocean.
He just needed to stub the ocean’s toe a little, to slow the ocean down near the bottom. When it slows down, the sand and suspended solids drop out, and slowly, over time the beach extends further out from shore and the tubes will end up being nearly buried.
And it’s an almost irreducibly cheap way to slow the bottom circulation. No forms or excavations are necessary. Nothing but geotextile tubes and concrete. How could it be cheaper? I think they’ve achieved the ultimate basement low-cost for the purpose. They call it the “Undercurrent Stabilizer”. True. It does stabilize the undercurrent.
Here’s a project Holmberg did in Saudi Arabia. A seawall was failing. They ripped out the seawall. They put the geotextile tubes from the shore outwards and pumped them full of concrete as Undercurrent Stabilizers. They walked away. Here’s the result.
Finally, it’s extensible. Over time the area between the groups of three geotextile tubes extending into the ocean at intervals along the beach fill in and will bury the tubes. Of course, the beach won’t extend further out at that point, because there’s nothing to slow the ocean down.
So you lay a fourth tube on top of the existing triangle of concrete tubes and pump it full … this adds a new stumbling block to slow the ocean a bit. As a result, the beach starts extending further out, and the beat goes on.
Now, contrast that to the usual solution, a sea wall. As the name suggests, rather than making the ocean stub its toe and slow a bit, a seawall looks to stop the ocean … in my experience as a long time seaman, I wouldn’t advise that …
And this brings up a more general point. It’s far cheaper and far more certain to adapt to changes in the weather by mitigating its effects than it is to try to reconfigure the energy sources of the entire world and change most aspects of how we live in a vain attempt to control the weather.
So if I lived in Hemsby, I’d be calling Holmberg … but hey, I was born yesterday, what do I know?
And regarding my life? Well, I’ve been driving from Nashville to the Carolina coast with my Gorgeous Ex-Fiancee. We’ve been doing what we call “pushing the Adventure Button”.
So … who is my Gorgeous Ex-Fiancee? Here you go.
You can read about her in my post Letters From Mexico To My Future Ex-Fiancee.
And what is the Adventure Button? It’s on Google Maps. After you push “Start” on Google Maps on your phone, drag up the bottom part of the screen. Select “Settings” down at the very bottom, scroll down, and select “Avoid Highways”.
Then simply follow the directions … you’ll see parts of the world you’ve never imagined.
Two days ago it led us through the hollows and the hills of Eastern Tennessee, past ancient stone houses and an Amish man with a peaceful face and a lovely smile driving his buggy.
Yesterday, it included a tightly twisting downhill run along Mill Creek in North Carolina, with a memorial to a long-forgotten but no less lethal minor Civil War battlefield at the bottom.
Yes, it’ll take longer to get to where you’re going … but on my planet, life is about the journey, not the goal.
Give the Adventure Button a try, likely you’ll never turn back.
In the hope that your life is full to the brim with adventures, I remain,
Yr. Obt. Svt.,
PS—you likely know the drill. To avoid misunderstandings, if you’re commenting please quote the exact words you are discussing.
It depends on what you have most readily available. If you are an Egyptian building pyramids, its a lot of work to grind those limestone boulders into cement powder….
LOL “before and after treatment” is not at the same scale, exaggerating the result dramatically.
Another nit-pick, eh Hans? True, they are not to the same scale, but even an idiot like me can see what is meant.
Nitpicking is what sceptics do, googling Holmberg did not raise my confidence, I did not find a website with a portfolio of jobs.
I have to agree with you, it’s a nitpick – the scale difference is at most 2x but the beach area is like 10x different.
Of course he can complain about the timing and level of the tide in each picture or how do we know the after picture wasn’t CGI’d – ad infinitum…
disagree. in Saudi Arabia the scale is comparable. In the first one it is noy but ypu either hve a beach or you dont. This technique sounds rather like the grognes that we have used in UK which are effective in holding back longshore drift and have been used for many years/ In helmesby I think the water action is waves coming in and out at right angles to the shore ans the texhnique might not be so effective
https://web.archive.org/web/20071010104855/http://www.erosion.com/ Is a defunct website
After reading this article, I have cancelled my plans to buy an oceanfront mansion. and a private jet too, after saving for the past 50 years. Those big shot climate warriors all have big mansions and private jets. They are hypocrites. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to be a hypocrite like them.
I was outraged by one phrase in this article:
Incensed, infuriated, aggravated, angry, offended,
indignant, exasperated, enraged, furious, irate,
irritated, provoked, inflamed, exasperated, maddened,
which is a typical day for me,
but this time I also blew my top,
hit the ceiling and lost my temper!
” … according to the UK rag The Guardian, … “
How dare you insult rags, Willis E.
Rags are useful.
The Guardian is totally useless.
PS: I will volunteer to be a climate refugee if there is any free money in it for me.\I had skin cancer. That’s caused by the climate. So i am a climate victim.
Willis, you are in my neck of the woods! The country side is beautiful! I try to never drive the interstates anymore, US highways are generally ok, and take you to some interesting places.
To the point of this article, several of our beaches are currently looking at routes to fix erosion, generally they seem to favor the jetty route.
Nice work, Willis. Every article like this helps people to understand that alarmists have been lying to us all these years. This one also shows the superiority of adaptation, when and where necessary, over crazy policies of “mitigation” to be forced on all of us for the rest of our lives.
I love this kind of solution—cheap, easy, and no downside. I always try to find that kind of answer, albeit on the microscopic scale that is my daily life.
There is always an upside and a downside. At minimum, some breed of critter won’t like disolving cement.
Coastal erosion – what’s actually happening – is not climate change; and it’s hardly new.
They seem to be lacking a model
Yes exactly, you’d think being journalists they’d put the story into some kind of historical perspective… but of course it’s the Guardian, and that means climate doom propaganda.
Here is some perspective on the part of the world they are fretting over.
Over the last 20 years or so that my wife and I have become climate refugees by going to a warm beach for part of the winter…..that danged beach has gotten a foot or two lower or higher with sand more times than I can count. The 1.7 mm per year of SLR is simply irrelevant. In about 600 years it might reach the base of the sea wall.
Not to mention that whole continents have washed into the oceans and grew out of the oceans for the last 4.4 billion years or so…And continental shelves now 300 feet underwater are where the beaches were washed to as the last ice age melted…
Quote:”Well, I’ve been driving from Nashville to the Carolina coast
By reference to the attached screenshot: Good thinking Wills, keep out of the way or you’ll be #13 Climate Refugee
Seriously, Hemsby’s problem is that ‘someone’ further up the coast has done exactly what you suggest. Built some contrivance to stop their beach eroding and or to make it bigger/better
It is that all down the UK east coast is quite a strong flow of water, north to south, constantly moving sand and silt with it along the coast
So when someone further upstream ‘steals’ the sand for their beach, it means that no sand comes along to replenish the beach at Hemsby as it continues its natural erosion.
And we see the result: -(selfish) actions have (unintended) consequences
A quite serious contender for ‘sand stealing’ and longshore flow upset would/could/might be all the offshore windfarm builders in that part of the world.
The water is never very deep so either:
a nearby windfarm itself is causing the upsetor the windfarmers have done some dredging nearby … so as to get their barges, boats, pontoons, cranes etc etc in and out whichever port they’re using#2 would be the perfect explanation as the natural flow of sand along/down the coast will be refilling the hole that the dredgers made.
Possibly also in conjunction with #1,
Because the dredgers would have used their spoil to reinforce the bases of their turbines – so they’ll have completely bu66ered the natural system
What is happening to Hemsby is entirely man-made for either those 2 reasons – you can be damn sure they’ll be keeping their heads down now.
Not that they need, such is The Great Beauty of Climate Change
edit to PS:
We need to find out where the cables from the windfarms come ashore – that’ll be it
That’s where Hemsby’s sand is going and it could be either upstream or down.
If the cable-layers have dug a hole further downstream, that will accelerate the flow of sand as it goes to refill the hole.
(Where does the Norway inter-connector come ashore?)
There is another method of doing the same thing. It involves laying a perforated pipe parallel to the beach and draining the water with low-powered pumps. It was discovered/invented after an aquarium in Denmark laid a line under the sand to get clean water for their tanks. It worked fine for six months or so and then the flow decreased. On investigating they found that the beach had moved seawards.
Steady erosion of Calvert Cliffs of Calvert County, Maryland on the western shore of the Chesapeake bay is and remains a problem. The cliffs erode at a rate of about 1 ft per year and homes along the cliff edges are torn down frequently when the cliff edge gets too close. Government rules prevent the installation of erosion prevention measures because when a collapse occurs the fresh cliff face provides habitat for the rare Puritan Tiger Beetle. Old cliff face doesn’t work for that.
A tide gauge at nearby Solomons Island Maryland shows relative sea level rise of about 2.75 mm/yr. The Solomons gauge has a GPS elevation gauge showing the land is sinking there at about 2.75 mm/yr – accounting for all of the relative rise.
Willis, to judge by your photo, you seem to be a cradle-snatcher!
Enjoy your holiday.
Yeah, well, the three-year-old in that picture is now 31 …
Very diplomatic to show a 28 yeas old photo of the wife
I still smile when you call her “My Ex-Fiancee”.
(Wish I’d thought of it for my Lovelyness.)
The Grauniad would try to link erosion to “climate change”. Parts of the east coast have been eroding for centuries with whole villages and towns lost to the North Sea. Nothing new here…..
Interestingly if you look at the second picture in the above article, The row of houses closest to the shore are small and lightly built, probably timber framed with lightweight sheathing and roofing. They look like post war prefab holiday cottages. They were not built of traditional materials for Norfolk such as flint, clay and brick with clay tiled or thatched rooves. I would speculate that they weren’t built to last because why would you if you know they were likely to be washed away at some point.
Generally ‘Rock armour’ has been used in the past to protect vulnerable coastlines. At Nearby (to me) Dawlish Warren, Devon the tube principle was used, as hard defences have become unfashionable.
These tubes are very vulnerable when faced with huge waves as they can rock and roll and split. ,You may remember around 10 years ago the Main Railway line was swept away at Dawlish leaving the line dangling.
As I pointed out at the time, exactly the same thing had happened during the first year of operation around 1859.
We locals told the Environment Agency the tubes wouldn’t work if there was a fierce easterly combined with a high tide. But of course they wouldn’t listen. Here is the theory
Dawlish Warren beach management scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The tube defences and the recharge of sand to the beach were swept away in the first big easterly storm, 2 years after installation.
I note the tubes were used in Saudi and the Great lakes but I suspect the sea conditions are not as bad as they can be round the UK coast especially when combined with a high spring tide. Rock Armour is invariably the way to go but as I say, ‘hard defences’ are now looked down on.
The east coast of England with its very fragile cliffs have been eroding for many centuries. . The Romans had to adapt a lot of their settlements in the east due to natural erosion. Trouble is, climate scientists never seem to want to read history
Yes. Sometimes they note the erosion has been happening *from at least the 16th century*, but then claim that climate change is making it worse – as they always do! Its unverifiable as any beach erosion waxes and wains anyway
‘In Happisburgh, 250 meters of land was lost to erosion between 1600 and 1850. ‘
thats 1m per year, it could hardly get worse.
Daily Telegraph newspaper cutting I kept from 2004. Claimed it was sea level rise, but it is of course good old fashioned coastal erosion. The original article contains the marvelous quote:
“Mr Fell-Clark…awoke after a storm in 1997 to find the shingle beach had disappeared”
I believe it’s still standing.
Hmmm … 2.56 mm per year, with no sign of the fabled “acceleration” in sea level rise.
Using the PSMSL annual data for Lowestoft you get around 0.06 mm/yr² of acceleration. Colorado University’s Sea Level Research Group CSLRG says 0.084 mm/yr².
However longer timelines generally center around 0.00 – 0.01 mm/yr².
Grrr, screwed up the post, can’t post the chart:
Steve, the problem as I’ve pointed out in the past is that the rate of sea level rise regularly accelerates and decelerates. So claims of “acceleration” are very sensitive to the exact time frame chosen. In particular, a dataset extending from say 1950 to 2020 will show acceleration, but one going from say 1920 to 2000 will show deceleration.
I discuss this issue in The Uneasy Sea.
Thanks for the reply (-:
Extrapolating the last wiggle in your Trailing Acceleration/Deceleration graph is what is going on. It needs to be repeatedly pointed out until it sinks in that acceleration porpoises over time. That of course will take money and influence.
Further North along the coast, near Hunstanton, a 6.6m diameter 4000 year old wooden circle was discovered in 1993:
From the above:
So over 4000 years, sea level rise claimed the dunes and salt flats and buried ‘Seahenge’ under a beach. Now it is well known that sea level rise is due to us wicked humans increasing atmospheric Carbon Dioxide but I thought this was supposed to have started around 1850. Has someone miscalculated?
A veteran of beach erosion here in Florida and when stationed north of Charleston on the Atlantic at Myrtle Beach.
Those things are intriguing, and the folks along the “Grand Strand” in S. Carolina tried and tried to re-create the old beaches to no avail. Jetties and groins only accumulated sand on one side and other side became bare.
My feeling is the effectiveness of those things depend a lot on the tidal flow along the coast. But they seem to work!!! In other words, if there’s no horizontal flow but just in and out they may be much more effective than in a “cape” where the flow is east-west or north-south.
Good article and some folks here on the Gulf Coast might be interested.
I suspect the concrete tubes would fail in areas of high waves. Lots of places simply build artificial reefs at right angles to the coastline to prevent scouring. This typically results in beach formation between the reefs, stabilizing the coastline.
These reef are typically built of rock. In extreme cases interlocking concrete like terapods or dolos can be used to protect the rock if budget perrmits.
The problem with concrete is that it doesn’t have any tensile strength and doesn’t weigh much in water. So if the waves can break the suction between the concrete and the bottom, flexing motion will not find it difficult to snap the tube.
You can mix fibers in with the concrete to bring up the tensile strength but you still have a potentially long lever arm working against the short axis of the oval. A huge mechanical advantage, with the weight of water behind it.
I haz had more thoughts…..
Hemsby is patently sitting on a pile of sand, which did not get there because the sea put it there.
I should have recognised from the very start as that’s what my farm in Cumbria was sitting on: Glacial Till
iow: Hemsby and that whole area is sat upon stuff that was laid down and sculpted by ice sheets and glaciers over 10,000 years ago
As per my Cumbrian patch, what the ice sheets did was create a layered formation in the top (maybe) 100 metres or so of soil.
Imagine a chef/cook in a kitchen, making Danish Pastries
They’d start with a huge slab of pastry, except for the glaciers that slab would be made of clay, and they’d keep stretching and folding it, wrapping in extra ingredients
In the kitchen those would be sugar, raisins, chocolate chips, chopped nuts etc but the glaciers would have had sand, stones, bits of rock, assorted boulders and gravel
The glacial result would be layers upon layer alternating sand, clay and gravel.
(Underlying it all will be Sandstone, maybe 100+ metres down)
Those layers would never be flat level and would thus appear on the surface as differing soil types as you travelled along the surface.
I saw that on my farm, some fields had gravel just below the surface, some had bottomless sand pits and others were just solid lumps of clay
That is patently the landscape in Hemsby’s part of the world and Hemsby itself happens to be sitting on a place where a layer of sand comes to the surface.
And has been for at least 10,000 years, nice and happy.
Geologists know all about this when they go looking for oil.
Now, visit the seaside with our bucket & spade to build sand-castles and even as kids we realise we need wet sand to make successful castles – dry sand simply wont stick together and the castles collapse as soon as we try to build them.
Now do we see ‘Climate Change’?
Hemsby’s sand, for the last 10,000 years has been and has remained damp/wet all that time and so has remained as a successful ‘sand castle’
But over the last few decades, ‘something’ has removed the water from the sand underneath Hemsby, said sand has dried out and simply collapsed – as we know from playing as kids on the beach.
‘Somebody’ or many ‘bodies’ have over that decadal timespan has altered the drainage of that area so that (rain) water which previously soaked into the ground to keep Hemsby’s sand wet, no longer does so.
We know who they are, we see them in the mirror and down at the shops:
i.e. Farmers, city builders, road/airport builders, land reclamation experts, borehole and aquifer users/drainers and many others.
(Sorry, yet again I’m looking at the guy throwing Ammonia Nitrate around and I know exactly why – because that guy was me 30 & 40 years ago)
It is they who changed The Climate and not by any fantastical & contrived machinations involving CO2
They did it by simply by altering where and when water moves, flows, is stored and used.
That is what caused Hemsby to collapse into the sea – the sand it was built upon dried out.
I’m a climate refugee.
I left Wisconsin in 1974 and have lived in Australia since.
I forgot to ask: Where do I go for compensation.
It all depends on the amount of (skin) melanin.
(I keep most of my melanin in my brain, so I don’t qualify for compensation)
Such a simple solution. However, the UKs environmental agency prefers natural erosion to happen. Interestingly my wife and I were walking the dogs on the beach between Aberdovey and Tywyn on the Welsh coast on Saturday. The remains of a sunken forest, as much as 5000 years old, and old peat cuttings were exposed as the tide went out. Pretty impressive to see and there are sunken forests all around the Welsh coast. As I remember being taught at school, sea levels have risen 300ft since the end of the last ice age.
There’s a long history of settlements down that coastline being lost to the sea. Here’s one from the 13th century, for example. Typical ignorance from the Guardian.
There’s a famous set of old photographs taken over a period of decades, which I can’t locate when I want to, of the coastline getting closer and closer to a church and the church then collapsing into the sea.
Willis, I always enjoy your posts and more importantly always learn something from them. My take away here though is that you are not only an expert in climate science but also are quite adept at the forgotten art of letter writing. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, SFry, appreciated.
Erosion of the Norfolk coast is centuries old. One of Britain’s once most important ports, Dunwich, lies miles off the nearby Suffolk coast.
A few years ago, two colleagues and I demonstrated to Norfolk’s greatest conservationist that he was wrong about man made climate change causing local sea level rise, increased storms & tidal surges (as the cause of erosion).
We used tidal data for Lowestoft and importantly isostatic rebound data. The latter is c.1mm/yr (of the land sinking). This accounted for almost all of the then sea level increase.
I am very suspicious of the 2.54mm/yr quoted.
Mainland Britain was once not an island, natural factors alone caused it to become one as shown in Judith Curry’s article here:-
The 2.54mm/yr does not include the isostatic rebound.
Thanks for reprising this article from (several?) years ago. You’d think this technique of shore preservation (along with planting native beach grasses) would have caught on by now.
Thanks for the travel writing. Of course, before there were “adventure buttons” on a cell phone there were “Blue Highways” on paper maps.
The best U.S. example of beach erosion is the Cape Cod lighthouse that’s built on rails. It moves every 20 years or so. It was built during the administration of George Washington.
As a North Carolinian coastal NC offers a lot of interesting places to visit. A lot of the swamps have extremely old cypress trees along with gators and water moccasins. You can rent a kayak and explore. Of course the Outer Banks away from all the development is nice. Old towns like Beaufort across from the wild horses and Southport/Bald Head Island are great but I’m generally visiting them by boat. Going south is Charleston and all it has. Going north is the Chesapeake. Whatever you do, enjoy it all!
I thought “Snow Birds” that winter in Florida were the first climate refugees?
@Willis why would you be calling Holmberg when his website http://www.erosion.com has been offline for several years already?
I was impressed by the technology, not the company. For all I know the company went under.
We have the 13th, or whatever:
Rising sea levels get top billing — and then the real story if revealed.
Water is as brown as a Dachshund.