Posts Tagged ‘Pevensey’

yielding to the rising sea…

January 8, 2017 Leave a comment


January 8th: yet another walk today, as part of my rehabilitation, around yet another part of my home village. This time around the church and into the Pevensey Levels, the fields that were painstakingly reclaimed over the centuries from the former tidal marsh as it became silted up and cut off from the sea by shingle drift along the English Channel. These fields – from where my photo today was taken, looking north towards Pevensey Castle – are rich grazing land now, much prized by farmers, but now extremely vulnerable to being reclaimed by the sea as climate change makes sea level rise rapidly. Estimates vary amongst climate scientists, but even conservative estimates suggest it could be up to 2 metres by 2050, which would easily overwhelm these fields I walked over today, plus much of the land for  miles inland, including much of the fast growing town of Eastbourne nearby.

It’s strange to walk over fields that look so permanent a feature of the landscape yet knowing that they were underwater once for thousands of years and will be underwater again before this century is out. If one thing is certain about climate change, it is that there will have to be a Great Retreat from the present coastline in many parts of the world. And certainly we are not ready for that here in terms of preparedness and contingency planning, which strikes me as so odd when I think of how much effort normally goes into planning for most other aspects of modern life. So we’re back to this disconnect I’ve talked about before, this inability to connect up the facts of climate change with the awesome and awful implications of those facts for the radical changes and political choices that will have to be made if those facts are truly faced up to.

And this disconnect persists despite the fact that we have, in effect, run out of time to think or argue about it. As I read today, an ice-free Arctic for at least part of each year is now imminent (that is, sometime within the next few years), and that will be a truly unprecedented event in human history, guaranteed to destabilise climate patterns we’ve been used to, and guaranteed to massively accelerate global warming because of the drastic reduction in the amount of solar energy reflected back into space and the drastic increase of heat energy absorbed by the ice-free Arctic ocean.

Yet I read today that, despite this, Trump will take a chain-saw to Obama’s climate legacy, starting on day one of taking office as US President:

Trump is said to be looking at ways to extricate the US from the Paris agreement while aggressively exploiting fossil fuels. He has said that on his first day in office, he will lift “the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal, and we will put our miners back to work”.

the turf I walk on, torn from a retreating sea,

but soon to be torn back by a rising sea,

yields to my tread, like a cushion,

yielding to me and all like me,

who in turn must yield to nature’s power

as the super-storms roll in with the incoming tides.

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Ruins of history – or history in ruins?

January 5, 2017 Leave a comment


January 5th: a day of glorious sunshine for me to stagger into on my rocky road to rehabilitation from my present illness. Lucky me has thousands of year of heritage to walk past on one of my local walks, and today’s photo shows off the impressive ruins of the Norman fort within the ancient Roman walls of Pevensey Castle. Always a great reminder of the rise and fall of empires, and within my own lifetime the British Empire has come to an end. Now the world apparently has superpowers, although what the difference is between ‘superpowers’ and ’empires’, I’m not sure! But of course, a superpower, no matter how strong, does not have the power to stop the natural world changing dramatically as a result of global warming, not even a superpower led by a reality TV superstar like Donald Trump.

But, it’s not just Trump who doesn’t understand climate change. A huge slice of the US population also doesn’t, including a large number of powerful politicians, who not only openly deny the findings of climate science but also launch attacks upon the integrity of climate scientists themselves, making all sorts of accusations about them without any evidence and even trying to withhold funding from essential climate research programmes. The attacks continue even though the latest research corroborates even more strongly the data climate scientists have accumulated over the last few decades, data which shows that global warming continues apace.

So it’s no surprise that the Arctic, that “giant refrigerator that helps make our world a viable place to live”, continues to show a record low amount of ice for this time of year, and that the Greenland ice sheet is continuing to melt at an ever faster rate. The loss of Arctic sea ice is now so great that the recently knighted sailor, David Hempleman-Adams, and his team, completed a sailing trip around the Arctic in about 3 months, a trip that would have taken up to 3 years some decades ago! And what does Trump now want to do in the Arctic? Team up with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to drill for oil in the Arctic, thereby exacerbating the very climate change that is leading to the destruction of the Arctic ecosystem in the first place, as well as leading to global catastrophic climate change if the Arctic oil drilling goes ahead unrestrained!

Walking past peaceful ruins – thinking of present ruins

Of ecosystems, climate systems, ocean systems –

Past blends with present and future concerns.

Everything passes away, even empires,

But now even history may pass away –

Strange, the urge to record the end of history endures…