Battling the Sea in the Netherlands — and the Tropics

Climate change is here. Its effects are happening. The Dutch–famously smart, famously frugal, and famously below sea level–are spending billions of euros shoring up their dikes and preparing for a rising sea. We in the rich world can gear up for it. But the worst effects–and the first people to feel the impact–are in the tropics. These are the poorest people…the half of humanity trying to live on $2 a day…the hungry billion trying to live on $1 a day. Helping them in the face of global warming is not a matter of sympathy; it’s a matter of justice. I believe anyone who denies that the climate is changing on this planet–and that it will have a devastating impact–is either ignorant or evil. I know evil is a strong word. But there are powerful and wealthy people who know in their hearts that climate change will wreak havoc on poor and hungry people…people they’ll never have to face in person. They know that human economic and industrial activities are contributing to climate change. And they are embracing lies about it–and discrediting caring people who are telling the truth about it–because of their own financial interest. These people are part of an evil on this planet in the 21st century that (if measured in the amount of human misery caused by their actions) may surpass even the most evil forces of the 20th century.


dike-village-netherlandsIn Europe, Dutch territory is both the most densely populated and the most below sea level. For centuries the Dutch have battled the sea. In anticipation of rising sea levels and more violent weather patterns, they are assessing their battlements and investing heavily in their own future dryness.


dike-pumper-netherlandsHuge boats are moving sand from far out at sea into shorelines to bolster the already massive dikes that enable the Dutch to sleep soundly (and dryly) at night.


dike-bike-netherlandsTraveling through the Netherlands, you can easily hike or bike along the dike. I’ll be filming soon at this location (on the coast an hour north of Amsterdam). Do you have any favorite sights I might want to film that show the mighty Dutch system of dikes?


14 Replies to “Battling the Sea in the Netherlands — and the Tropics”

  1. Easy there big fella. There is debate on The Greenhouse Effect/Global Warming/Climate Change and a lot of BS spouted on both sides. But to compare those who don’t see things as you as “evil”, read Hitler, is a little much.
    That was quite a rant. Did you post this in a “Coffee Shop”, feel the mood, and just get a little carried away?
    Anyway, tell me where to buy the best chocolate in Brussels and relax on the “evil” stuff.

  2. Wow….kind of nuts, eh? Oh, and before you get too effusive in your praise of the Dutch way of “fighting” climate change, keep in mind that this is the same nation that closed off an inland sea for their own economic gain.

  3. I agree with Mike on all the BS being spouted on both sides of this argument. Most of it depends on who is making how much to take a side. What I don’t understand is the arrogance of most of us to think that He who created this earth and created us is dumber that we are. He has been controlling the elements to make this earth and us possible for longer than we can imagine. Climate change has been going back and forth for a long time and it is controlled by Him and not us. Are we arrogant enough to think we can destroy or alter what He has done or will continue to do? Can we be good stewards of the planet…of course…can we be compassionate and help those in need…you bet….but I don’t have to be a fanatic and accuse people of being evil if they don’t agree with me. Rick has a right to his opinion and can spend his profits on whatever cause he wants to but I think this rant especially since his expertise is in travel and not climate change is a little over the top.

  4. Rick,

    I love your website and guide books. I’m sure to be using them the rest of my life.

    However, with all due respect, if you are going to offer your opinion about Global Warming – look to yourself first. Your own carbon foot print is off the charts with the traveling you do. Do not preach to us who only get to take a vacation once a year.

    With the (over)utilization of the airlines and trains that you use – take a hard, long look in the mirror before lecturing about greenhouse emissions and how individuals are impacting the planet!

  5. Although I don’t always agree with Rick’s opinions (mostly political not travel) I respected him because he is fair and considerate to those of differing opinions. He certainly has changed by mind about him by characterizing an opposing view as “ignorant and evil”. I hope he realizes the slippery slope he is on because evil in this world should not be tolerated; thus he is suggesting silencing a group of people that have legitimate concerns about an issue that has become highly politicized. In my view, this silencing of opposition is itself evil.

  6. To be fair, Rick makes it clear that this blog will off his personal views and if this offends you – don’t read it. IMO this is an important topic, so I hope no one minds a lengthy comment.

    FWIW, I don’t think Rick’s comments are way off the mark. “Evil” may be a word that is over-used today (eps in politics), but there is IMHO genuine evil on this planet.

    However, this entire issue is far from black and white and calling those who disagree with the official story “evil” can be a dangerous accusation. The motives of the IPCC may seem above reproach but there are scientists who do not agree with the man-made scenario.

    From what I see and read, it seems that those who do not agree with the IPCC are considered tin-foil hat crazies but our solar system is a very more complex organism and may play a much bigger role than carbon dioxide. Remeber that the poles are melting on other planets as well.

    Please consider these stories:

    A BBC report on the sun’s dimming: “Paradoxically, the decline in sunlight may mean that global warming is a far greater threat to society than previously thought.”

    “The amount of cosmic rays reaching Earth is largely controlled by the Sun, and many solar scientists believe the star’s indirect influence on Earth’s global climate has been underestimated.”

    Some quotes to consider as well:

    “I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion.” – Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever.

    “The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists,” – Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet.

    “The models and forecasts of the UN IPCC “are incorrect because they only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity.” – Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico

    “It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.” – U.S Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA.

    And consider this report:

    This is not to say that oil companies and others are determined to cast doubt for nefarious reasons, but with the poles melting on other planets – the doubt (at least for me) is there.

  7. Terry’s God may have made the heavens and the earth but it people who are overusing our resources. When I talk to a “denier” I tell them to sit in a room full of smokers for a period of time and then deny that people can change the climate they are in. All those smoke stacks,cars and ,yes , airplanes are changing our earth just like smokers choke ( change the climate) a room full of people which leads to many things like cancer, asthma, emphysema that big business used to deny about smoking and is now known to be fact.

  8. This was a great post, Rick. Keep it up. The willful ignorance of climate change deniers, despite mountains of data from scientists actually qualified to speak on the topic, reminds me of those who claimed the Earth was flat and others who questioned Copernicus’s heliocentric theories of the universe. I wonder if climate change deniers will one day question whether 1+1 really does equal 2.

  9. Love your shows, books, and tours Rick, but now you have ventured into the domain of “thought police”. Saying those who don’t agree with your views are “ignorant or evil” is quite a statement. Degrading and/or demonizing people who don’t share your opinion is not right.

  10. This is a blog, where opinions and theories are shared, defended, supported, or refuted – throughout the internets. So give Rick a break.

    He presents a mostly unbiased and enjoyable TV program and useful book series, the success and enjoyment of which would be undermined if it were dripping with one-sided political diatribe. But a personal blog allows one to mount the soapbox and vent, among other things. I would rather caution that much of the environmental movement is perpetuated by anti-capitalists, but I recognize others are passionate with different views. And I like to know how to find the unspoiled wilds and pristine natural beauty of Europe, and do what I can to ensure it stays that way. Carry on, Rick.

  11. WOW. This is from the same guy that took down American flags in his community after he thought they had been up too long after 9/11. Like most leftists anybody that disagrees with his uninformed opinion is a “hater” or is “evil.” Lefties often complain about capitalism after they’ve become rich under the same system but didn’t complain while their wallets were getting fat. Rick should’ve ran a travel agency in a communistic country 1945-1989 and just maybe he and his family wouldn’t be living so large today and he’d appreciate his country and his country’s people just a little bit more. Fortunately, it’s easy to tune him out.

  12. “DOMUnder”: The history of Utrecht under the DOM square is made visible. You walk under ground with an interactive guided audio tour and can see the remains of the first Roman settlement, the Batavian uprise against the Romans (47 AD), medieval churches as well as ‘modern’ drainingsystems from the 1880’s. Very intersting, just opened a couple of weeks ago.
    The new land taken from the North Sea west of Rotterdam, where we were and the Garmin showed we were driving in the water, remember.
    In the North East (Groningen) the dikes and the villages behind them along the Eems River.
    In North Holland province: the dikes north of Enkhuizen. Also close to the ‘Afsluitdijk’ that turned the Sout Sea into a fresh water reservoir.
    In Utrecht the Old and New canal as remains of the River Rhine.
    Also intersting in the North Hollandprovince: The Artpark “de Nollen” in the city of Den Helder. Also in Den Helder the Navy base and the ancient marine docks.

  13. Climate changing is easy to see – making the jump to say that it is caused by human factors – not so much.

    Assuming human factors are the driver though – it might be more useful to publish the blog in Hindi or Mandarin…

  14. Hi Rick,
    visit ‘zee land’ with the ‘delta weaken’. it’s interesting for the dike system. Maybe in the same time visit the harbor from Rotterdam.
    welcome to the Netherlands!

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