Six Reasons You Should Worry About Climate Change
I came across the above article in the New Zealand Herald of Monday May 2.
I am interested in this subject, especially the Sea Level Rise aspect.
This is because my Local Government is currently is starting to put pressure on 18,000 private properties which are believed (by the Local Government) to be “in danger of inundation in 100 years time” .
This action is based upon a report commissioned by my City Council which assures us that there will probably/most likely be a 1000mm sea level rise within that 100 years.
I have studied this report as well as a few others produced by the same agency. In all there are three or more reports upon which the Christchurch (NZ) City Council is using to justify their actions.
In New Zealand, each property title has a document called a “Land Information Memorandum” attached to it. This gives details of any possible hazards and town planning obligations etc. that apply to this particular title. This is essential and generally helpful reading for anyone wishing to purchase that particular property.
An brief overview of the Councils intention reads something like this :-
Initially the council wants to put an entry in the memorandums of the above mentioned 18,000 properties siting that inundation, (depending on the zone of the particular property) will happen within 50 years or 100 years. More ominously the Council also aims to designate “Inundation Zones” on the district plan, the intention being to allow them to control development within these areas.
Most importantly, before any significant improvements to any property in this inundation zone are allowed, they will demand – what is known as a “Resource Consent”.
(A resource Consent is a process which both examines in depth, allows comments or objections from any persons throughout New Zealand – does not have to be a neighbor – and because of the likely requirements for expert reports and hearing/court costs etc. is also very expensive to obtain)
I should know, I spent $200,000 and a lot of my time to try to get approval for a perfectly reasonable and GREEN project and after a number of hearings and court appearances, I failed.
The Council has also stated that any resource consent on this matter will be unlikely to be approved
Most citizens of my city now easily recognize that this will not only restrict the living of the affected property owners but is the first step to start “legally” clearing residents out of these areas.
There is no doubt that, should the council have its way, there will be at least, a profound drop in property values in these areas, which in itself will cause people with large mortgages hardship and for obvious reasons probably force their exit and break them financially.
It is also thought that insurance may be impossible to attain.
Although because of a backlash and protests by the residents of the area involved, the Council has withdrawn the process for the time being. However some groups are now organizing to try and fight this heavy handedness.May these groups keep the pressure up because it is apparent that the Council is not giving up on this action but more biding its time for the best opportunity.
My research showed that key documents that the Council is relying on here can only be described as extremely shoddy and alarmist in their compilation.
First of all the current sea level rise, according to well researched academic studies, shows that currently THE SEA RISES 1.7mm per year, which it has been since records began and NO ACCELERATION HAS YET BEEN DETECTED!
Although some of the above mentioned reports which the Council is using as “Authority”, ( which I found generally poorly referenced as to where their information came from), actually reference these same academic studies above, they have not seem fit to mention the important little fact, that there is no empirical evidence showing acceleration of sea level rise, is stated in their text.
Therefore I was and am still intrigued about where the “facts” came from for this news paper article
Hence I wrote three times to the paper requesting the source of their article and especially this “New Report” mentioned in the first sentence, of which one can read in the next paragraph, was published by the Royal Society of New Zealand.
First of all, a paragraph of the newspaper Article.
With a historic global climate agreement about to be signed in New York, a new report has laid bare how New Zealand will be affected by climate change.
The report, published by the Royal Society of New Zealand, has found that climate change, already underway, will almost certainly accelerate this century unless drastic action is taken to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases.
Changes expected to impact New Zealand include at least 30cm and possibly more than one metre of sea-level rise this century.
The report finds it likely that the sea level rise around New Zealand will exceed the global average, which will cause coastal erosion and flooding, especially when combined with storm surges.
“Many New Zealanders live on the coast and two-thirds of us live in flood-prone areas so we are vulnerable to these projected changes,” said Professor James Renwick, chair of the expert panel who wrote the report.
Even small changes in average conditions can be associated with large changes in the frequency of extreme events, he said.
The report highlights six major effects we can expect to see.
1. It will threaten our coastlines
• It is very likely that the rate of sea level rise around New Zealand will exceed the historical rate and exceed the global average – at least another 30cm is virtually guaranteed this century but the rise could exceed 1m.
• With a 30cm rise in sea level, the current one-in-100 year extreme sea level event would be expected to occur once every year or so in many coastal regions.
*Rising sea levels mean rising coastal water tables, leading to semi-permanent or permanent inundation of low-lying areas, and the potential for salt water to get into freshwater systems.
• The implications for coastal populations will vary widely, depending on the shape of the coast, the distribution of buildings and structures at risk and their vulnerability, and the differentiated make-up of communities themselves. *However, the recent report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment indicates that thousands of households in many towns and cities will be affected.
• These communities will need to plan for and adapt to change and some will need to decide whether to “hold the line” or relocate in response to known risks or actual climate change impacts.
2. It will bring more floods
Full article is here: six reasons you should worry about climat change NZ Herald
So here is my polite letter to the editor
“The New Zealand Herald
I am interested in the sources of the many unsupported facts and omissions in your article
“Six reasons you should worry about climate change”.
For instance you mention “A new report” then later we find it is “ published by the Royal Society of New Zealand”.
Then later we read “Changes expected to impact New Zealand include at least 30cm and possibly more than one metre of sea-level rise this century”
I find these statements puzzling because in one of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s recent publications, and I cite:- RSNZ, 2010
“Sea levels have risen throughout the Twentieth Century
“Tidal records from many sites around the globe provide clear evidence that sea levels have risen over the last century by an average of 1.7 mm/yr (± 0.5 mm/yr).6 Over the period of satellite observation, altimetry and tidal records confirm that the rate has increased, as shown in Figure 1. The rise over the past fifteen years has been 3.3 mm/yr (± 0.4 mm/yr).7
Accounting for land movement, comparable rises are seen in the tidal records for Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, and Lyttelton where annual records cover most of last century. The rise around New Zealand has been close to the global trend. However, evidence of an accelerating rate has not yet been seen in the New Zealand tidal record.”
(Figure 1. Refers to a graph of observations and predictions. The observations source is not given)
Other sources such as J. Hannah
School of Surveying, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand in 2004 published the following;
“This new analysis supports at least two other conclusions.
Firstly, it continues to indicate that in New Zealand, at least, there has been neither a significant change in the rate of sea level rise nor any detectable acceleration”
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 31, L03307, doi:10.1029/2003GL019166, 2004
RSNZ2010 also contains some speculative statements such as you cite in your article, but the actual truth is that;
According to all the sources I can find, there is no acceleration of sea level rise yet detected in NZ waters – and unless an acceleration, which obviously is a necessary condition in order to attain 300mm of sea level rise during the next century, is empirically detected, any prediction of sea level rising is simply pure speculation.
I would also venture suggest that if you are basing your article on a similar report to RSNZ 2010 the quality of your reporting is not in the least enhancing the reputation of your organization.
According to these sources, the sea level change in New Zealand shores is recorded as being a constant 1.7mm per annum since recording began.
In order to cause 300mm per century it needs to double and to attain 1000mm per century it needs to multiply by more than a factor of five!
The catch is that this acceleration has not yet started.
However, I am very interested in this “New Report” and I trust that you can direct me to this publication so I can assess it for myself.
I have not mentioned any of the later statements in your article which are presumably also based on this report, but it is difficult to give then credence unless there is some empirical break through which can suddenly validate these claims. Therefore I am very keen to study these.
At the moment, for instance, we know that the climate is still cooler than that attained by the Medieval Warm Period, and other historically recorded warmings. The fact we are still cooler than the Medieval Warm Period, for instance is validated by the archaeological recovery of “Garten Unter Sandet” which is a Viking farm in Greenland which was excavated from permafrost a few years ago. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk2/ftp04/mq22551.pdf
Another example is http://climateaudit.org/2005/11/18/archaeological-finds-in-retreating-swiss-glacier/ which discusses early artifacts left during medieval, roman and stone ages that are being discovered emerging from the ice and snow. It appears that this area has been used a short cut between North Italy and the Bernese upper country for a number of periods in early history.
Looking forward to reading your “New Report”
Faithfully Yours ….”
I sent the above email three times and only got an automated reply each time, saying that I would be contacted within three working days.
Of course I have not been contacted.
Well with no help from the newspaper, I did eventually find what must be the report in question.
It is a rehash of the report I mention above and uses some of the same wording.
“Tidal records from many sites around the globe provide clear evidence that sea levels have risen over the last century by an average of 1.7 mm/yr (± 0.5 mm/yr).6 Over the period of satellite observation, altimetry and tidal records confirm that the rate has increased, as shown in Figure 1. The rise over the past fifteen years has been 3.3 mm/yr (± 0.4 mm/yr).7″
appears but the paragraph :-
“Accounting for land movement, comparable rises are seen in the tidal records for Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, and Lyttelton where annual records cover most of last century. The rise around New Zealand has been close to the global trend. However, evidence of an accelerating rate has not yet been seen in the New Zealand tidal record.”
is absent:- No claim that acceleration has been detected, no mention of the current data at all.
Even worse, I cannot find any references to scientific works in this article. This “report” is therefore not an authorative report, it is not a scientific report – it appears to be a summary of scare mongering rumour and should be treated as much.
An academic would describe any report, even one with what is purported to contain life changing information for normal people, but without proper references as “fiction”
This is not even close to the standard of work worthy of an organisation that calls themselves “The Royal Society of New Zealand”
Even if we can believe such speculative predictions which the NZ Herald is thrusting on the public, sea level rise will never be a tsunami, and there will be plenty of time to enact suitable measures if and when an actual acceleration in sea level rise is detected.
We the people of Christchurch and especially the 18,000 property holders being bullied by the local government deserve better than this!