The story that climate change threatens English castles is ba-a-ack. And it’s worse, because “King Arthur’s Estate Threatened by Coastal Erosion” according to the Calgary Herald in what seems to be its “Disasters * Ecology” section. Noooooo! Not Camelot. And indeed not. Rather, Tintagel Castle. The one that's been crumbling since, um, the 13th century.
Going into slightly more detail, the National Post explained that “The legendary birthplace of King Arthur could be lost to the sea, English Heritage has said, as it warned accelerating coastal erosion was threatening heritage all along England’s coastlines. Rising sea levels and increasingly powerful winter storms driven by climate change are battering the country’s coastal history. It released a list of six sites most at risk from increasing erosion, among them Tintagel Castle on the north Cornish coast.” How bad is it? Apparently it’s not. “While the castle itself is not under immediate threat, the cliffs around it face growing danger.” But saying otherwise was evidently helpful in a fundraising campaign.
The British government’s propaganda service, the BBC, quoted the disinterested director of the fundraising outfit that ““It seems to be that the whole natural dynamics of the coastline in some places have been accelerated by climate change,” Rob Woodside, English Heritage’s estates director, told BBC News.” And then babbled that “There is broad consensus among scientists that even if the greenhouse gas emissions that warm the Earth are dramatically cut, global sea levels will continue to rise for several hundred years. Higher sea levels mean more powerful waves coming closer to the shore, and faster coastal erosion.”
This tosh was printed by the BBC’s “Environment Correspondent”, or one of them anyway. And it’s amazingly ignorant because global sea levels have been rising for more than 12,000 years for, yes, natural reasons and we do not think you can find one scientist anywhere who will tell you that if human greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically cut, they will stop rising somewhere around 2300 AD. Unless, of course, the Holocene comes to an end, the glaciers advance, several hundred feet of sea level are absorbed into the new ice via accumulating snowfall and civilization is destroyed. Which would be a high price to pay.
As for higher sea levels meaning more powerful waves coming closer to shore, it is also scandalous scientific illiteracy. It might well mean the shore being further inland than it was, and the waves as well. But more powerful waves? Pfui. Waves closer to shore? Pfui. As for faster coastal erosion, again pfui. Is coastal erosion faster today than it was when Caesar walked the Earth? We ask because, again, the seas have risen steadily since then, as beforehand. In the face of this arrant nonsense we checked his credentials as we are wont to do and found a BA in politics and economics from Durham University then a “Post-graduate diploma, Broadcast Journalism” from Cardiff Journalism School. So not exactly a climate scientist… and it shows.
Oddly one of us has been to Tintagel Castle, back in 2016, and it was being hit by one of those famous English rains that made climbing the hill all but impossible. So climate change? Not if you believe the Goon Show, in one of whose episodes Min Bannister says “what a nice summer evening, typical English weather” and Henry Crun responds “yes, the rain is lovely and warm. Minnie, I think I'll take one of my sou'westers off”. And that was broadcast on October 12, 1954.
As the BBC eventually spat out in its or-your-castle-gets-it climate threat story, “Erosion is not a new problem at Tintagel. It has been under attack from wind and sea since being built in the 13th Century. There are regular cliff falls…” Yeah. As there would be when you build by the sea and it has waves and stuff. Which may explain why another of the poster castles for evil human influence, Piel Castle, suffered a major loss in… the 19th century. Whereas Hurst Castle lost a 19th-century addition recently due to “decades of coastal development”, prompting some dolt to blame man-made climate change for making British weather less pleasant than it famously was in days of yore.
Still, when it comes to climate change, a castle can be crumbling since the days of Edward I thanks to 20th-century man-made GHGs, a piece of magic that would have had Merlin green with envy.