“Experts”, the local council and environment groups say he is, but the actual figures say “maybe not”.
There is no global warming occurring at the moment, but there has been global warming over the course of the 20th Century, and while CO2 levels continue to rise, the logarithmic effect this has on temperature means a lot more CO2 is required for a given amount of warming.
All of which suggests, if there was going to be an acceleration of sea level rise we should already see evidence of it, and that as long as the pause remains we shouldn’t see much sea level rise at all.
So, here are the sea level figures for Brisbane provided by the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS), a US government body, which along with its predecessors has been gathering USA tidal data for 200 years (longer than the instrumental temperature record is available).
There has been no statistically significant increase in sea level in Brisbane at all with the measured increase less than the measurement error. There are no figures for Moreton but as it and Brisbane are on the same stretch of water I think we can safely infer that the 800 mm over the next 85 years, which the council has written into its town planning instrument, is fanciful.
That would be a rise of 9.4 mm per year when over the last 49 years there has been, as best anyone can tell, one hundredth that amount of sea rise per year, if there has been any rise at all.
I’m sure it won’t take long for a commenter to point out that the IPCC forecasts are different, so the measurement must be wrong.
To this I would say two things.
First, the IPCC projections for temperature on which the IPCC forecasts are based have been invalidated by the last 15 or 18 years of temperature so that now all of the models are running hotter than reality. In which case, the best forecasting stance would be to take the business as usual case and project it forward.
Second, even if the IPCC forecasts were correct, they are global, and local effects can overwhelm global effects. The east coast of Australia is rising at the same time as the west coast is falling because the continent is tilting as continental drift pushes it up under Asia. So while there might be more water in the oceans we won’t notice it as much, or apparently at all, on this side of our island.
In which case, a council that applies an 800 mm projection is being plain ridiculous.
Of course, if Seeney had been wise, he would have commissioned a scientific committee to write all this down in a 100 pages or so.
The council claims that it may be liable for failing to take climate change into account in planning. This could easily be cured by state legislation.
Sea levels do rise and fall, with the sea being around 100 metres lower on the east coast of Australia than today a mere 15,000 years ago. The Whitsundays were mostly once mountains, and there was no Great Barrier Reef.
Any port built on the east coast at that time would now be well underwater.
We like to live near the water, and there are commercial reasons why we should build cities near the water. The idea that fear of climate change means that these should be built so far inland that they could never be affected is ridiculous.
Cities are not immutable. They change and are redeveloped. If I build in an area which is inundated in 100 years time, then that should be at my risk, and not the council’s.
On these figures, I’d be happy to take the risk.
The prices at which waterfront properties change hands suggests that the weight of money is with me. And with Jeff Seeney.