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Leaning Lighthouse Returns To Straight and Narrow

Erosion Straightens Tower

Kiipsaare Lighthouse in EstoniaIn a reverse to most stories about global warming and erosion damaging our lighthouses, an inactive lighthouse in Estonia, the Kiipsaare Lighthouse on the island of Saaremaa, has actually straightened up due to erosion. The tower, constructed in 1933, began to list to one side (due to erosion) around 1991. A comparison of photos taken in 1981 and 1990 shows that the coastline had eroded at a rate of three meters (about 10 feet) per year. As the water edged closer to the lighthouse, the waves slammed the tower, and sucked the sand from underneath the base. A story in the Batic Times says the return to the straight and narrow was first noticed by a keeper at a nearby nature preservation center on January 25 of this year.

A pronounced list to the seaward side of seven to nine degrees, as seen in the photo, caused some people to refer to it as the “Pisa Tower of Saaremaa.”  Kaarel Orviku, a geologist, said that the same forces that caused the seaward side to be washed away have done the same to the landward side, and thus the tower has turned slightly clockwise around its axis and leaned back toward the land. As of 22 February, the lighthouse was so straight the list, estimated to be now at one degree, was so slight as to be indiscernible. And it was just in time for the celebrations of the Republic of Estonia’s 90th anniversary celebrations.

Global Warming Or Natural Cycles?

The story in the Baltic Times claims global warming is to blame for both. While there may be truth that the climate is changing, it’s irresponsible to blame it for every instance of erosion. Historically, the oceans (and lakes) ebb and flow. And of course, there was that great period of 115,000 to 14,000 years ago when the climate changes were sudden and abrupt. Often the climate would change in a matter of decades, based on observations of Greenland’s ice cap.

While it’s convenient to blame greenhouse gas emissions as the theory for today’s climate changes, our planet’s climate has been subject to radical jumps throughout history. And even in recent years, these cycles have been seen. Violent hurricanes have always existed, the damage is much more apparent now that our planet is so populous. And worries about the Great Lakes drying up due to global warming, are unfounded and just part of Mother Nature’s cycles. I can remember having to walk out almost a half mile from shore before finding water deep enough for swimming on the Great Lakes.

What Goes Around Comes Around

Sorry for using this article as a rant against over usage of the term global warming. We do need to be more responsible with our energy comsumption. It is, after all, finite. And lighthouses lead by example, with so many being run by solar power. But I really do hate seeing the term used to describe natural erosions taking place around lighthouses, which after all, were built in the worst possible places. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo Credit: Kiipsaare Lighthouse by Loud Howard. Some rights reserved.

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