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Doondoo Donating Member (843 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 12:54 PM
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Blaming climate change, government abandons a coastal defense
HAPPISBURGH, England (AP) -- A 12-bedroom guest house, with beautiful views of the North Sea, a lighthouse and sandy beaches, sounds like prime real estate. But Cliff House is nearly worthless. The offshore wooden barrier that once protected the sand and clay cliffs of this stretch of eastern English coast has broken apart, and the government has decided that with the expected rise in sea levels and storm surges that experts attribute to global warming, some vulnerable coastal areas are no longer worth defending.

"The next big storm could take us away," said Diana Wrightson, one of two elderly women who bought Cliff House 26 years ago, assuming the coastline would always be protected.

Predictions of rising sea levels usually envision the low-lying islands of the south seas, or cyclone-prone Bangladesh, as the most vulnerable victims. But Britain is part of a growing club of rich countries whose coastal populations feel threatened.


Ronan Uhel, a top official at the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, said the situation in Happisburgh shows that governments and insurance companies have finally started letting the public know that it will have to do more than buy fuel-efficient cars and better light bulbs to fight global warming. He said citizens are being shown they can't keep building homes on islands and near lowlands and coastlines, especially in vulnerable areas where it no longer makes sense to rebuild offshore barriers.

In countries like Britain, "a national debate is just starting about what is an appropriate policy of adaptation to climate change," Uhel said in an interview. "People are just beginning to realize the risks of global warming and the big lifestyle changes that may be needed to brace for them."

Late last year, a new law took effect in England and Wales whereby the government decides whether it makes sense, economically and environmentally, to rebuild barriers. For Happisburgh, 135 miles northeast of London, the answer was no.


Happisburgh, on the East Anglia coast, has always been vulnerable, and accounts of houses, lighthouses or farmland collapsing into the sea date back to the early 19th century.

"But the rate of erosion there now is phenomenal, in excess of 10 meters (33 feet) a year, because of sea level rise, the collapse of its offshore barrier and the fact that southeastern England is sinking," Dr. David Viner, a senior scientist at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, said in an interview.

Viner said sea levels are now rising about 3 millimeters a year in that area, increasing to as much as 10 millimeters a year because of global warming. A millimeter is about the thickness of a paper clip.

"These areas were previously defended, but the government is now making it clear for the first time that while it will not let economically important areas such as London flood, it will no longer defend relatively low-value areas such as Happisburgh village, where the rate of erosion will continue to increase," he said.


"Whatever the climate change predictions of the future, the number of residential areas that already are suffering from the impact of more erosion, higher sea levels, storm surges and increased risk of flooding are being broken every year,'' said Paul Van Hofwegen of the World Water Council, a think tank based in Marseille, France.
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achtung_circus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-24-07 01:12 PM
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1. Kraken Wakes, anyone? nt
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 01:34 PM
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2. I wonder about future real estate...
suppose I was to buy this land. then suppose in 50 years it was flooded. Would I still own that land that is now covered by water?

If so, wouldn't that give me exclusive rights to do what I want with that area?

Such as putting in tidal water generators?

My point is, this could be an opportunity for future power needs.
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-26-07 02:48 PM
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3. I think any land beyond average sea levels is automatically
"sea" and technically owned by the nation in question, not private parties. But this could be a new, untested area of the law yet to be resolved.
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