One of the more depressing aspects of the climate-change issue, is that there remain a number of high-profile people who refuse to believe that it exists and is either substantially or significantly a result of human activity. Some even get angry when accused of being climate-change deniers, claiming that they are just being ‘open-minded’.
Deniers are usually free-market enthusiasts, almost always well to the right of centre. (Nigel Lawson is one; he has written a rather grubby little book on the subject.) These people insist that the computer models are flawed, there is very little real evidence, there is no consensus among experts, and the undeniable global warming that is taking place could be the result of purely natural processes. They claim also that the costs of stopping or reversing warming are so astronomical, that surely we need more firm evidence before committing the countries of the world to an expense that may, in the end, make no difference. And in any case, if the world is warming, will it really be that bad?
The real question to ponder is this: if there is credible evidence of climate change and the catastrophic effect it will have on the planet and the six or so billion people living on it, can we really afford not to spend money now to prevent it?
Well, allow me to add my twopenn’orth of evidence on the subject. In the early 1970s I lived for a while in the picturesque village of Wivenhoe on the River Colne not far from Colchester. Just over the road from our house was a woodyard receiving deliveries from Polish freighters coming up the river at high tide. Every now and then one of them would get ‘neaped’ – when it went aground near a spring high tide and had to wait two weeks for the next high water to float it off. This grounding was assisted, it was rumoured darkly, by 80% proof Polish vodka, some of which even found its way into the hands of the local villagers…
We had some very good times there and it was a fun place to live, so I was alarmed some years ago to see that a barrier had been built across the river to protect Colchester from tidal surges and the rising sea level. Sea levels are rising at the rate of around 3 mm in a year as the sea warms up – that’s more than five inches since I lived there. And for Essex it is worse, because the land is also sinking … The Environmental Agency spent £14.5M on the barrier, and I now know why. I have been unable to find out what the actual sea-level increase has been at Wivenhoe, but this week I had first hand evidence of its consequences.
Taking advantage of some late September good weather, I took the boat up the Colne from Brightlingsea and moored up on the Wivenhoe Sailing Club pontoons for lunch. The locals told me the Black Buoy was best for food and so it proved to be.
As I walked to the pub I noticed a large puddle in the road which puzzled me, since there had not been any rain for several days. Soon, however, the reason for the puddle was clear. The first picture shows the view from the window of the Black Buoy – the puddle is evident. The second picture shows what caused it …
As the tide came in it lapped the houses at the bottom of the street effectively cutting it off from that direction – although an intrepid white-van-man did drive through it at one point. The flood-barrier was not closed on this occasion, but it has been closed already several times this year.
This is the reality of global warming and the terrifying prospect of climate change. Admittedly, being close to the Autumnal equinox, the tides are particularly high at the moment, but I never remember the water lapping the houses during my time at Wivenhoe, and we lived very close to the quay.
So there is no need to visit the Pacific Islands, the Antarctic ice-shelf, the Greenland glaciers or indeed the now navigable northwest passage to see the evidence of climate change first hand. Come to rural Essex during the spring tides, but do bring a pair of wellingtons …
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs