The Twelfth First Climate Refugees

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From Watts Up With That?

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 seventhninth, 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.