See Comments down arrow

On the beach

25 Nov 2020 | News Roundup

Among the supposed horrors of climate change you can list, well, everything from giant jellyfish to itchier poison ivy to soggy pork chops, bad chocolate and the disappearance of beaches on which to savour a Foster’s. But don’t forget bad computer models, including the one that said beaches were going fast and would go faster; it turns out they were based on bad assumptions and used to justify worse policy. It really is getting silly.

According to The Times, the European Commission study predicting the end of sand as we know it was badly flawed and caused, of all things, “unnecessary alarm”. And in such a basic way that it almost looks deliberate although as we have repeatedly stressed, one should never ascribe to conspiracy what can be explained by stupidity. What new research has discovered about beaches is, in plain language, that they are sandy strips at the edge of the sea and so if the sea rises, the beach that is washed away at the low edge will be replaced by new beach at the high edge.

It cannot have been easy to miss this point. But the EC study apparently managed it through a combination of elaborate techniques, beginning with assuming rising seas washed sediment away rather than depositing it. (Were this true, we must observe, the steady sea rise since the end of the last glaciation would have finished off the beaches long before Henry Ford got to work on them; once again the inability to think through basic historical points is among the most glaring weaknesses of climate alarmists.)

The earlier study then seems to have assumed that people would do the dumbest stuff possible in response to eroding beaches, like walling them in so they had nowhere to grow. (Among other things it said Australia was the worst-affected country because it has over 7,000 miles of beaches. But of course most of them are not in built-up areas so those beaches have endless outback into which to retreat.) And then it suggested some even dumber stuff like trying to pump sand back out of the water as if Mr. Ocean weren’t big enough to wash it all away again with a sneer.

Now of course it is true that in Britain, for instance, if the beaches keep retreating they will eventually meet at the top of the last sandy hill and vanish like a sand castle before an incoming tide. But if all of Britain goes under because of rising seas, from man-made causes, natural ones or both, the big problem won’t be not being able to relax on the beach as it happens. If on the other hand the world continues to see the same slow rise in sea levels that it appears to have seen for many centuries, long before man-made GHGs were a thing, then the new study reveals that the old study repeats another familiar and unhelpful alarmist habit: Having misidentified the problem, it then recommends actions that would make the situation worse. As the new study says, “As sea level rises, shoreline retreat must, and will, happen. Beaches, however, will survive. The biggest threat to the continued existence of beaches is coastal defence structures that limit their ability to migrate.”

So as always, let’s combine a sober assessment of the problem with a sensible solution. Among the major drawbacks of climate alarmism is that, in part by relying on computer models that simply assume what they set out to prove, it diverts far too much time, energy and money to “stopping climate change” which is neither possible nor desirable, and away from mitigating any really undesirable impacts of it at acceptable cost while also giving sustained attention to other environmental problems from smog to plastic in the oceans that are both real and manageable.

One comment on “On the beach”

  1. Britain was once connected to continental Europe, by some flattish teritory called 'Doggerland'. It was inundated as sealevels rose, forming the English Channel and North Sea (including the shallows called Dogger Bank). Ever since the English duscovered the seaside, and started holidaying in Brighton, Bridlington snd Blackpool, we have battled the ocean, by building seawalls and putting wooden groynes in to stop the beach washing away to the left or right, whike watching Chesil Beach get longer and longer. We still have beaches.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *