A rising tide sinks cities…

by Gareth on March 6, 2013

That’s the title of my first post at New Zealand’s new The Daily Blog. It’s an attempt to underline the long term imperative provided by sea level rise, to help a general audience to appreciate that every tonne of CO2 counts. The Daily Blog launched last week. Editor Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury has pulled together over 30 of NZ’s “leading left-wing commentators and progressive opinion shapers to provide the other side of the story on today’s news, media and political agendas”. I’ll be blogging there every two weeks, covering climate science and policy with an eye to the run-in to the next election in 2014. Wish me luck…

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

noelfuller March 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm

A compelling presentation Gareth.

Of course I started imagining Auckland at various points in the future. It is hard to estimate seeing that erosion will accelerate in sedimentary areas with increased exposure to wave action with sea level rise. South Auckland will become salt marsh then open water, northland becoming an island. Of the rest there will be a few volcanic cones, some basalt islands and for a time some other ridges eventually eroding to sand bars.

I shudder to even think what will happen to other cities I know plus all those low lying coastal “developments” on former saltmashes shielded at present by sand bars.

In such a future world one has to doubt the ability to build new infrastructure. I can’t see much awareness of the issues in current planning. Developers don’t pay any attention at all unless forced by regulatory bodies. Christchurch has provided an example of the folly of building houses upon sand which is to say lack of vision in planning.

Thomas March 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm

It would be an interesting exercise to work out how we would actually go about building “world B” after “world A”, or significant parts of it, have been swallowed by the sea, when the use of CO2 fuels is restricted or too expensive, making of concrete likewise encumbered, steel prices exorbitant, fertilizers unavailable unless you have “eaten it first” and hungry people scrapping over food, clean water and shelter.

noelfuller March 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Exactly Thomas.

Nor did I mention the large areas of low lying or reclaimed rural lands that are so prolific in food production. South of Auckland much of the lower Waikato would become an extensive Port Waikato with the sea penetrating perhaps to Taupiri. The Hauraki plains would be inundated to a point not far short of Matamata. North, lands on the eastern shores of the Kaipara would be submerged and maybe Dargaville and surrounds. Some land east of the Kaipara is actually below sea level. I once had to instrument a pump in that area that was suspect.

Rob Painting March 10, 2013 at 9:44 am

Of course for New Zealand it’s drought and extreme flooding, as a consequence of global warming, that is the main concern. The current North Island drought is the worst ever experienced according to early reports, and there is the very real possibility of recurrent drought over the next half-decade if the climate switches to a El Nino-dominant mode.

Farmers by and large typically vote National, but it is National that is only making matters worse by failing to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More extreme farming conditions are now a reality, with decades of warming now in the pipeline, but why continue to make matters even worse?

Macro March 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Furthermore the drought which we are experiencing at this point of time highlights the stupidity of our current economic policy which bets the whole wealth of our country upon increasing Dairying and prostituting ourselves for a Trade Agreement so we can sell more milk products to the USA. This drought is the 3rd since 2008 in the Waikato, according to the president of Federated Farmers. And this in a predominantly la Nina period where as the projections for El Nino is for a prolonged period of drought.
Not only are we jeopardising the environmental wealth of our country for the hope of a few more dollars possibly in export, we are stupidly betting that our climate of the past will continue; and we now have every indication that it will not. The weather patterns of the past with ample rainfall throughout the year are a thing of the past. Welcome to the new normal.
Dr Jim Renwick is reported as commenting in a similar vein here:
http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2013/03/climate-change-glimpse-of-our-future.html

Macro March 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm

The Hauraki Plains (a large dairying area – by NZ standards) will be one of the first areas to be inundated.

noelfuller March 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Floods and droughts may do for us before sea level rise of course.

I am reminded of a period a few years back when Northland had “100 year floods” two years running. The folk of Kaeo live within loops of a meandering river about 3 km from the Whangaroa harbour along SH10 towards Kerikeri. A creek runs through the tiny settlement to join that river. I can’t tell from the google map how far they are away from the top of the tide, possibly about a kilometre. Anyway they were well and truly washed out each time. Then prime minister, Helen Clark, taking the long term view, was rather short with them; “Move up the hill!” she said.

This was not well received but will be increasingly advised. I read recently some American book set in a near future where “Relocation” is the big policy word in the face of climate change. Today Bill English advised that with increasing drought government would not be able to keep financing drought recovery. Farmers would have to change. The same applies to flood relief and sea level rise. Habitat change is the only viable strategy.

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