Friday, December 05, 2008

Coastal Erosion and Wave Power

BBC reports on a legal judgment that opposes the policy of leaving coastal erosion to natural forces. (Makes a change from leaving things to market forces.

The default position of authorities is that erosion cannot be stopped, and so Managed Retreat is the answer. Managed Retreat is retreat with Management In The Loop, I presume. There is a case for this, given the well-known experiment of Knut the Great (b. ~890 AD) who demonstrated the inability of humans, no matter how exalted, to affect the course of nature.

The result of a 1000 year old demonstration on tides should not necessarily be the be-all and end-all of coastal policy. Technology has progressed somewhat. Prof Steven Salter tells us that Wave energy devices are able to cause beach augmentation in some situations. There is clearly a case for doing some experiments along these lines, because it is a no-lose situation. If it works, we get clean electricity and save coast erosion. If it fails to save the coast, we still get clean electricity.

Green solutions often solve more than one problem, just as grey solutions often cause more than one problem. For instance fossil fuel use causes price rises as the supply diminishes, acid rain, resource wars and climate change.

But are Greens acting as Knut in the face of an inexorably rising tide of human stupidity? Or are the contrarians acting as Knut in the face of an inexorably rising tide of green consciousness and practice? It could go either way, with everything to play for; and the drama is taking place in a human societal system which is by definition open to change.

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