London calling


This is what 6 metres of sea level rise (see today’s Eemian post) would look like in central London — iconic buildings abandoned to the encroaching sea. It’s one image from a thought-provoking series: Wish You Were Here? Postcards From The Future, part of the London Futures project, which will be on show at the Museum of London until March. The images are striking — beautiful and unsettling, sometimes humorous — like the camels replacing the horses at Horse Guards Parade, the dust and pink light looking like a Victorian watercolour of Egypt, or wind turbines as flag poles down The Mall, and the palm oil plantation in Hyde Park.

The Telegraph has a gallery, or you can view them all at the London Futures web site.

[The Clash]

71 thoughts on “London calling”

  1. Here we go again. Dredging up the Goreist trick of depicting present-day architecture inundated, thereby implying that catastrophic SL rise is imminent. Fortunately there is no evidence that SLR is accelerating from ~3 mm/year
    At that rate it would take 2000 years to increase 6m.
    Catastrophe Cancelled.

        1. Not so fast, Not so loose. The satellite measurements are validated against simultaneous tide gauge measurements. Do you get High School students to do your Science? Maybe they’re naive enough to believe your denialist meme, but it’s old and tired here. ROUSE! This place is for real Science.

    1. Since your concerns are confined to “present-day architecture”, here’s some ‘older’ landmarks that could be lost to sea level rise:
      In the middle of this picture: Westminster Bridge – opened in 1862.
      New Houses of Parliament – 1840 (rebuilt in 1941 after Nazi raids).
      In the foreground, Westminster Abbey:
      – first founded on the present site in 624 A.D.
      – stone abbey built 1045 – 1050 by King Edward the Confessor
      – rebuilt in Gothic style (Henry III 1245 – Richard II 1517)
      – Henry VII Chapel -1503
      – Western towers built 1722 -1745
      – repaired after damage during the Blitz on 15 November 1940.

      But hey, what’s a thousand years of history and culture compared to the Trillions of Dollars that would be forfeit by Big Oil and Dirty Coal if People were to switch to clean, abundant renewable energy? No, we’re going to switch, it’s just a question of how much damage we’ll endure before we make the jump.

      1. Your link shows a trend indistinguishable from linear since the mid 19th C. How does that support the orders-of-magnitude increase required to see 6m SLR imminently?

        1. Given the age of some of those buildings, 100-200 years is certainly “imminent”. And your use of “orders-of-magnitude” is hyperbole; with 3mm/yr, over 100 years that’s 30cm – so 600cm is only one order of magnitude higher.

          Yes there is a gap but if you … read … the … freakin’ … articles … you might see why it is that a) it is almost certain that there will be an increase in the rate of rise, the question is just how much, b) rapid rises have been observed in the record in the past and c) even if the rise is not imminent, the equilibrium rise is still going to happen.

          The position you argue seems more and more tenuous every time I hear it … that’s when it’s not just a repeat.

    2. Well, that argument comes up often lately so I prepared a nice graph based upon actual Northsea level measurements, taking two of the longest records available for that area. Accelerating sea levels? Oh, yes…

      I hope the graph shows up, otherwise just follow the link (I apologize for the Dutch title):

      The North Shields data is extended to the Amsterdam records by substracting 6880 mm to make cmNAP. Data is from here:

      1. Yes. And this graph shows that there has been a constant trend since the mid 19th C. ~3 mm/year. If it accelerated it was about the time of the Crimean War. The disconnect between the evidence that even the warmists present and the fevered predictions of imminent metres of SLR is one of the reasons catastrophic GW’s credibility is round its ankles. That and the blowing up children thingy. Not cool.

        1. “Steve” I accidentally clicked your Thumb, so this is your “Thumbs Down”.

          Your comment is self-contradictory nonsense. At Oct 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm you accept the 1.7mm / year rate but attack the Satellite record. Now, you say there is “a constant trend since the mid 19th C. ~3 mm/year”. Which is it? Based on your comments, you’d say that Sea level rise is a function of “whatever suits your purpose at the moment”.

          I’m really starting to see the humour in your comments! Here’s another explanation that fits your theory: “The Earth suddenly became round in 1492, The resulting tur-gore pressure imbalance caused a temporary increase in SLR, which was only stabilized by the Crimean War. WWI, WWII etc. Since Reagan was elected in 1990, the Earth is now flat again.” Does that about sum up your World view?

          Back to the real Universe, your false concern over “imminent” sea level rise utterly ignores our Generations responsibility to protect future Generations. When you look back at the Golden Age of Greece, do you remember them as the creators of Democracy, or for their Money? 2500 years from now, people will remember you as part of the group that precipitated the utter ruin of Civilization.

          1. Quite in the habit of clicking a button on me are you? Well this week we saw in ghastly detail how the twisted warmist mentality would like to deal with the problem of these civilisation-ruining skeptics with athe click of a little red button.

            1. Do you seriously expect anyone to believe that you really believe this stuff, Steve? I’d have to conclude you were DSM certifiably paranoid; I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to hear I doubt this, even if Planet Wrathall is a strange one indeed by my lights!

              But if you were to stop all the hyperventilating and histrionics, would you actually have anything to say? That’s the question.

      2. Nicely done, Cynicus! Abel Tasman would understand! For non-Dutch speakers, the title of the graph is: “North Sea sea level compilation”

        1. Thanks AD, the translation is correct.

          I find remarks like “since mid-19 century there is a “constant trend” blabla” highly misleading as it assumes a law that implies “constant trends”.

          In fact sea level responds to physics and not to linear trendlines on a few years of data that is very noisy. The long timeseries graph show that -just by looking at a graph- you need many more years than merely 50 to judge constant or accelerating rise.

          The last 50 years don’t say much about the future because ice-caps were still quite stable during this period, but science predicts accelerating loss (and already seeing it happen) of icecaps and therefore accelerating sea level rise. Look back to the end of the last ice age 16.000 years ago and see how sea level responds to melting land ice…

          Or look back to the last interglacial 120kyr ago when temperature was ~2 degrees higher and sea level 6 to 9 meters higher then today:

          Steve looks back only 50 years and basically claims that physics don’t work on the oceans and icecaps. It’s plain silly.

  2. Not quite, Steve.

    The big fear, and it is fear at this stage, is that the big land-based ice sheets are not behaving as expected. The observations are that they are depleting and moving much more than most scientists had calculated that they would. This isn’t surprising because this amount of heating has never been observed before.

    The fear? That large bits of the icesheets could fracture and move into the ocean. This is a very different picture from the already observed break up of floating ice shelves – even if all floating ice shelves melted we’re only looking at a few cms of SLR. But if large parts of an ice *sheet* move into the ocean, it doesn’t even matter whether they melt quickly or slowly. The displacement alone would result in quite sudden, very large increases in SLR.

    Not an appealing prospect. And the work on it is barely keeping up with the observations of warming effects.

    1. “…the work on it is barely keeping up …” TRANSLATION. These rapid ice sheet melts remain entirely speculative and no basis whatsoever for deciding billions of dollars of public policy.

      1. In Wrathall world, things that are observed and measured (such as increasing ice sheet mass loss, glacier and ice-shelf thinning) are “entirely speculative”.

        This is the worst kind of head-in-the-sand contrarianism.

  3. Even without a dramatic increase in sea level within current lifetimes we face two joint problems. Even a small but consistent increase of rate of rise will screw confidence in any property close to sea level which would have have a dramatic effect on values in our 4 main centers. I’m wondering about the sense of replacing the buildings in the ChCh CBD when the current high tide mark on the Avon is within the CBD. Was it a good idea to invest so much in a stadium so close to the sea in Dunedin? Or the repository of all our national treasures right on the waterfront in Wellington?
    Then there’s the worry that palm trees wouldn’t grow in Hyde Park because although the summer temps would support them, they couldn’t survive the winter cold snaps and snow falls. Wacky weather means hotter hots, colder colds, wetter wets, drier dries and stronger winds all round.

  4. Imagine how bad the flooding would be for the Dutch if they got 6 metres SLR and they didn’t have time to increase the height of their dykes, most of their country would be flooded.

    1. They’re planning for 1.1m this century. Some existing flood defences are capable of dealing with 100,000 year events (IIRC, might only be 10,000), so they should have a comfortable cushion. Comes of having a huge amount of infrastructure already below sea level…

      1. 1100 mm this century (of which there is only 90 years left) would require SLR 3 x that actually being observed. No wonder local body rates have zoomed far ahead of inflation for many years when they over-engineer (as well as unnecessarily restrict development) on the basis of alarmist SRLs which are manifestly not occurring.

        1. I know you’re immune to reason, Steve, but we know from the Eemian (see yesterday’s post, linked above) that SLR at three times current rates occurred at a time when ice sheets were smaller than today, and CO2 much lower. We have every reason to expect an acceleration of SLR over this century. Planning a response is not over-engineering, it’s just prudent risk management.

        2. “Unnecessarily restrict development”?

          You think people should build in flood plains, or on sand, or in the path of storm surge? The difference between individual building intentions and local authorities is that a business or a family whose building is wrecked by flooding or whatever can move elsewhere, even though they’re unhappy about it. A local authority is local. It can’t “move” and it has limited funds for projects.

          Saying that people should build what they like, where they like is really iffy when we all know full well that people who build in such places will = inevitably = call on local authorities to build flood defences, seawalls or whatever to protect their private investment. Far, far better if the issue never arises.

          1. It’s a good point you make, Adelady. The NZ coastline is under huge development pressure. To give a local example: when I first visited Gore Bay (ha!) in the mid-90s, you could pick up one of the beach front baches (holiday homes) for NZ$20,000-$50,000. Now you’d be lucky to find one under $500,000. Small wooden cottages have been replaced by large modern homes. Now throw into that mix sea level rise. It will probably be seen first as an increase in coastal erosion and storm surge (see recent RSNZ paper). As the beach eats into the road and land in front of these houses, the owners will demand that my local authority put defences in place — and my rates will rise. Arguably, much of this development took place before SLR projections were worrying, and I have no problem with paying a little extra to help out neighbours, but if you scale up to the national situation the numbers start to become serious. How much better would it be if local authorities insisted on coastal buffer zones, with major development/infrastructure far enough back from the coast to avoid risk? A valuable added benefit would be that this would help to maintain the shoreline in a relatively natural state for all users.

            1. “far enough back from the coast to avoid risk”
              But in the real world there is no such thing. You can only trade off risks. The restrictions you advocate would inevitably destroy the Kiwi dream of a beach bach or exacerbate the supply side to such an extent that the prices you shed crocodile tears about would become even more out of reach.

            2. No such thing? At Gore Bay this may be true, because the coastal strip under the cliffs is very narrow, but at many other places there’s plenty of “room” behind the beach for development. A “beach bach” doesn’t have to be on the beach to provide access to the sea. And the Kiwi dream is already mostly for the rich, judging by the way the old houses are being ripped down and replaced by plate glass and concrete boxes.

              Ultimately, beach front property will become uninsurable. This is already true in much of Florida, for instance, where the state has to act as insurer of last resort — effectively socialising the costs of rebuilding the seaside mansions of the rich.

          2. Where exactly should NZers build anything where there is no risk of destruction by natural disaster? Massively distorting the decision making process by exaggerating the risk of SLR or flooding would drive development onto landslide-prone slopes.

            1. Where did those goalposts go?

              Advocating sensible coastal development policy is hardly suggesting building only where there’s no risk of “natural” disaster. However, the existence of a building code that explicitly takes into account the probability of earthquakes shows that there are prudent steps that can be taken, as the ChCh eq demonstrated very well.

              There’s plenty of NZ land that’s not on floodplains or unstable slopes. But it would be foolish to actively build in regions prone to flooding without taking that risk into account. This is a problem the UK is having to confront, as recent extreme flooding has demonstrated.

            2. Can I suggest ‘Thwwwunggggg…..’ as the official transcription of the sound of goal-posts being hastily shifted?

            3. I have no problem with taking actual risks of flooding, coastal erosion , or any other process into account. 6 m of SLR in the near future is not an actual risk. It is fiction.

            4. And nowhere does anybody claim 6m SLR in the near future is likely. This post is about artists’ responses to climate change, an envisioning of possible futures for London, not predictions or forecasts. But you couldn’t resist the chance to chant from your “catastrophe cancelled” catechism, could you? I expect you’ll be complaining about the camels next…

            5. Insurers use actuaries to calculate insurance premiums.
              They base their calculations on measurable risks.

              What probabilities are associated with the RS paper on SLR?

              I see a lot of “mays” and “coulds”, but if these numbers do not have a probability associated with them then the projections are useless from an insurers perspective.

              We “may” get struck by an asteroid in the next 100 years. Does that make all above-surface properties uninsurable?

            6. See the top item in this recent post for a sample of insurance company interest in the changing probabilities of extreme events. To look at the underlying probability assessments and their justification, I suggest you look at the reports cited by the RSNZ in their paper. The point they make is that the risk you’re prepared to take (or plan for) depends on circumstances. A cheap easily replaced structure might be fine, a nuclear power station less so.

    1. Get basic science insight, like ‘free falling and melting temp of steel’ from ; then rethink what POWER can do. what’s its global agenda. It is so….so… easy to control mind. ‘just broadcasting on the TV!’. Then everything becomes right, what’s left is evil and conspriacy.

      1. While you’re there, compare with – then rethink what blindly accepting conspiracy theories can do. It is so….so… easy to lose control of your mind. ‘just reading on the Internet!’ Then every conspiracy becomes supported by your readings.

        Seriously, read that site. It has a lot of anti-loon on it.

        1. That link appears to be lead a domain parking site!

          I’ve always thought the easiest demolition of the 911 theories is the sheer number of people that would have to be involved; it’s impossible to imagine such a complex scheme without extensive leaks and a large number of whistleblowers, even from within heavily ideological administration like Bush’s.

  5. @Max

    For this scam to have worked, it would have required the coordinated cooperation of thousands of scientists, in hundreds of institutions, in dozens of different countries… secretly agreeing to concoct a very complex, yet totally made up story, and to maintain the consistency of that false story over many years. You need to do some hard thinking about what that would entail.

    Apart from the speculative paranoia you’ve been reading on denier sites, do you have any actual hard evidence of a ‘scam’ on this scale? (Links to denier blogs/videos not credible here.)

    1. Another point; it would be a fairly stupid to consipracy to consider undertaking in the first place as it generates a sense of complacency in large segments of the population. This is because the pace of change while rapid in a climatic sense is relatively slow in respect to human personal experience.

      The other thing would be that you would have to gamble (assuming this conspiracy started around 1980) that the earth’s global temperature would measurably warm in the next 30 years, the glaciers would melt, the arctic sea ice would decline, etc, etc, etc.

      1. I spport the notion of trains running on time (or even running at all would be nice) as do most Wellingtonians, but that doesn’t mean we’re close to getting a 1930’s style Italian fascism here. (I know it’s not what you said but your logic is along similar lines and starting to show some stretch marks.)

        The eugenics movement was as you say a movement not really a conspiracy. But I’ll concede there are dangers when policy proponents wrap themselves in the “science” or the “flag”. (Using the logic “if you attack me you attack the flag!”) However, in the case of AGW the science is on the whole sound, though there are areas of uncertainty and this is openly acknowledged . It’s the policy responses that need to be scrutinised. And the one policy that needs the most scrutiny of all is “business as usual” – and the risks that this exposes human civilization to.

  6. Gareth:”And nowhere does anybody claim 6m SLR in the near future is likely. This post is about artists’ responses to climate change, an envisioning of possible futures for London, not predictions or forecasts.”
    But these “possible futures’ are precisely what are being used to scare children into become parent hating zombie-eyed automatons with an absolute certainty that would make a Hitler Youth staringly lovingly into the Fuhrer’s eyes in April 1945 Berlin blush
    Is it any wonder that such can then conclude that “its fun to blow up people-for a good cause”
    So 6 m of sea level rise is BS.
    But climate change is REAL!!!
    You must believe us this time.
    No pressure.

  7. There are moments when I’m surprised again how loony folk can be. I’ve had a couple of those moments in this thread….

    Thanks, Steve, Max and others.

  8. Í’m so glad I can keep my carbon footprint low by the miracle of the intertubes.

    There’s no need to fly all over the world to hear the mumbling rants of those odd people on street corners.

  9. Another thing the global warming science scam would need to work, is a time machine.
    That must be how Al Gore got scientists to lie about the greenhouse effect. He obviously conspired with these scientists

    Fourier who calculated that the earth would be colder without an atmosphere in 1824

    Tyndall, who discovered the relationship between CO2 and long-wave radiation in 1859

    Arrhenius who calculated global warming from anthropogenic CO2 (1896)

    Chamberlin who modeled global carbon exchange including feedbacks in i897

    Callendar who predicted that global warming increase is catalysed by CO2 emissions in 1938

    Revelle who predicted the inability of oceans to sequester anthropogenic CO2 in 1958

    From Spencer Weart’s history of ACC

  10. Thought I’d reiterate that this really is outstanding work graphically, with great use of photoshop and virtually seamless collaging. As a man who also spends some time hunched over a graphics tablet I can only salute these artists – well worth a look!

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