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Dame Helen Ghosh Is All At Sea On Climate Change

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Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph

The National Trust chief’s idea that climate change has somehow been causing Britain’s coastline ‘to fall into the sea’ is nonsense

The White Cliffs of Dover coastline, Kent, for which an appeal is being raised

The White Cliffs of Dover coastline, Kent, for which an appeal is being raised Photo: National Trust Images/John Miller
Last week’s Sunday Telegraph caused a stir with that interview in which Dame Helen Ghosh, the director general of the National Trust, explained why the greatest challenge facing the trust was “climate change”. It may not be surprising to hear such a claim coming from the woman who was the top civil servant with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when, under David and Ed Miliband, it was putting through the Climate Change Act. But Dame Helen’s chief concerns were the damage she believes global warming is doing to wildlife and our coastline.

The only form of wildlife named by Dame Helen was the infestation of the trust’s properties by silverfish, apparently caused by the disappearance of those “crisp, cold winters” that used to kill them off.

This surprised those of us who remember the abnormally cold winter of 2009, followed in 2010 by the coldest December since records began.

But Paul Homewood went further on his Notalotofpeopleknowthat blog by constructing a graph based on Met Office data which shows that, over the past century, there has been no upward trend in winter temperatures at all.

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As Homewood observes, if there has been an increase in silverfish in those stately homes, it is more likely to have been because of the way they have been insulated by the trust to cut down its emissions of CO2.

Even more curious, however, is Dame Helen’s belief that climate change has somehow been causing Britain’s coastline “to fall into the sea”. She seems unaware that the eastern edge of Britain has been sinking and retreating ever since the end of the last ice age.

Has she never heard of Dunwich in Suffolk, which 800 years ago was the tenth largest town in England but is now almost wholly submerged?

It is unlikely that installing “biomass” boilers in the trust’s properties will do much to halt a process that has been continuing for the past 11,000 years. As Mr Homewood asks, is it right that someone with such a “poor knowledge of history” should have been put in charge of the National Trust?

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