I am sorry to return once again to the subject of Climate Change, but this is a subject on which I remain suspicious.
The latest object of my suspicion comes from my friends at English Heritage, who have produced a document headed Climate Change and the Historic Environment which is not on their main website but is hidden away on a subsidiary website called Helm – www.helm.org.uk
Now as far as the historic environment is concerned, a rather warmer climate in England would probably be rather a good thing. The major single source of damage to historic properties is frost, and if there is less frost, there will be less damage – at which we can all rejoice. Now if we are to discuss the problems of a change in climate, we need to do a cost/benefit analysis, to look at th costs, but to look also at the benefits, and to draw the balance between them. English Heritage, however, has produced a wholly one-sided document, giving all the costs and none of the benefits.
Thus the one reference to fewer frosts suggests that ‘fewer frosts and drier summers and the northward migration of pests and diseases may make it difficult to maintain traditional planting schemes in some historic gardens’: nothing about the benefits to historic buildings. They say that changes in hydrology may put buried archaeological remains at risk – yes agreed, the drying out of waterlogged deposits will destroy some of most valuable forms of evidence. But they then go on to say that more frequent and severe flooding may damage some historic buildings – see front cover: is the climate going to become wetter or dryer? They do, however, point to the dangers from the construction of wind farms and other renewable energy infrastructure such as hydro electric and tidal plants – which can cause major archaeological problems.
The report as a whole is unbalanced. This is the whole trouble with global warming: the government is so keen to scare us that it rarely produces a balanced viewpoint, and in those cases where I can check the evidence, it is all one-sided and unbalanced. How far, therefore, should one believe all the other arguments where it is not possible to check the evidence?
This opinion comes from CA issue 204