Climate Change Research… there’s funding for that

Living on the isle of Anglesey I’m pretty much surrounded by beaches. I recently learned, however, that one of my nearest beaches failed its latest water safety tests and as a result swimmers were being advised against swimming there and dogs were banned from the beach. There was also a rumour circulating about the local nuclear power station, just round the coast, being to blame.

I’m neither a swimmer nor have I a dog, but I was interested in finding out more; the area is popular with tourists after all, many of whom enjoy the beaches, and it’s a habitat for many lifeforms of course.

A quick search online found two news reports, the first dating back to November of last year (even local news reaches my ears slowly) revealing that yes, the beach “has the worst quality water in Wales according to recent study“.

I’ve heard of ongoing issues with the drainage from the toilet-block at the beach, and the lack of funding being thrown at the issue to rectify the problem. It seemed to me that the beach had always recorded low on the water quality tests (I remember the beach losing its ‘blue flag’ a number of years back) and that it was only during this latest test that the results had caused it to finally dip below the minimum standard requirement.

The second and more recent headline however (March of this year) was more alarming to my ears, considering what I already understood about the issue: “Anglesey beach with worst water quality in Wales to be focus of £5.8m study into climate change“.

Yes, that’s £5.8 million (about 7.5m USD) and now my rational mind kicks into gear I accept this isn’t £5.8m to be spent on figuring out where the problem lies for this one beach, but a more general study. But still, this beach is to be the “focus” of that study… into “climate change” no less.

Where did the idea that “climate change” is to blame for this? I have no idea, but in light of this local issue it’s something that can be pinned on anything, just so “scientists”, researchists, or universities can earn a pay cheque (or an additional one), it seems.

Now, scientists from Aberystwyth and Dublin Universities will be looking at the effects of climate change on ‘at risk’ beaches in Wales and Ireland – starting with Cemaes Bay.

Scientists? I thought students went to university.

And that’s not all. Those in government who are still harking on about the benefits of being in the European Union when we’ve chosen to leave it, will use the occasion to their advantage:

Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford AM said: “Preserving and enhancing the marine and coastal environment in Wales and Ireland for economic prosperity and enjoyment by current and future generations is of vital importance.

“This is another positive example of how EU funds are supporting local economies and communities by helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change.”*

The thing is, with a little more searching online (I’m talking about over the course of one cup of coffee), one can find the website for that “recent study” that was the catalyst for that first headline; the bulk of the work has already been done it seems; It’s there in black and white: “the recent pollution thought to be caused by Cattle effluent…

Why throw climate change into the mix?

I actually took the time, whilst still consuming that first cup of coffee, to email the government department to request further details, and a week later I received a reply. It turned out others had made similar requests, and again the findings were two-fold, with no mention of “climate change” being given as an explanation:

  • A river flows into the sea at that beach and a number of cattle farms/fields line much of the area that runs alongside that river, the source of that cattle effluent.
  • Failings at a local water treatment works would cause human waste to find its way into the river during spells of heavy rainfall.
Part of the river when it burst its banks back in 2013.

Admittedly causes could be exacerbated by “climate change”; there might be more heavy rainfall experienced causing cattle effluent to be “flushed” down from the land. Rainfall had been stated as a cause of the local water treatment works failings, however improvements have recently been made to the works to better treat the water to prevent untreated waste from finding its way into the river; they now shine UV light into the water to kill bacteria.

With this bit of research am I now entitled to put in a claim for my share of that £5.8m?

It bothers me that such figures are thrown at research – it’s almost as silly as the £100m generic price tags for building tunnels I mentioned last year – especially when it seems the results of any research are already out there; one just needs to piece it together to form a report that answers the question proposed, one way or another; yes, climate change is to blame, or no, it’s cow shit… *lets throw EU money at crap [as if that money comes from nowhere]. But more importantly, such money could be spent on practical methods of dealing with the problem, namely properly treating the waste that’s finding its way into the river and thus the sea at the beach, which is always going to be a thing to be dealt with for as long as cows are grown in the area.

[Photos by me.]

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