The fat lady’s not yet in the building, but her limo’s outside the theatre. There’s another five or six weeks of melting to go, but there’s more than just sea ice melting in the Arctic, and more than my few meagre wagers riding on how summer turns out ‘oop North. Here’s a compendium of interesting recent stuff…
The Ministry for the Environment released an updated Coastal Hazards and Climate Change manual for local government last week, based on work done by NIWA. It incorporates the latest NZ thinking on where sea-levels are heading. If you’re planning to build something that has to last until the end of the century (and that covers a lot of coastal infrastructure), you should allow for half a metre of sea-level rise, and consider the consequences of an increase of up to 80cm. The report says:
For planning and decision timeframes out to the 2090s (2090â€“2099):
a. a base value sea-level rise of 0.5 m relative to the 1980â€“1999 average should be used, along with
b. an assessment of the potential consequences from a range of possible higher sea-level rises (particularly where impacts are likely to have high consequence or where additional future adaptation options are limited). At the very least, all assessments should consider the consequences of a mean sea-level rise of at least 0.8 m relative to the 1980â€“1999 average.
For planning and decision timeframes beyond 2100 where, as a result of the particular decision, future adaptation options will be limited, an allowance for sea-level rise of 10 mm per year beyond 2100 is recommended (in addition to the above recommendation).
Local authorities have a duty to understand this stuff (under the RMA and other legislation), so the report is highly detailed. If you’ve ever hankered after an in-depth understanding the processes that underlie storm surges, beach (and bach) erosion, tidal ranges and tsunamis, there’s no better place to start. If you want to see what impact that sort of rise might have on your area, try Global Warming Art’s excellent Google Maps mashup Sea Level Rise Explorer, or check NASA JPL’s new climate change site for the global sea level picture [Flash required].
Also released last week: the edited highlights (with pretty pictures) version of the Preparing For Climate Change guidance manual published last May which incorporates NIWA’s latest climate projections for NZ. Essential. And free.
In a dramatic announcement today, Vincent R Gray, the retired coal researcher and diligent proof-reader of IPPC Working Group Reports (he’s inordinately proud of the fact that he submitted over 1,800 comments to the fourth report) has resigned from the Royal Society of New Zealand because of its recent statement on climate change. Given that Gray has been criticising the IPCC view of climate science for 18 years and is a vocal member of the NZ C”S”C, this is perhaps no surprise, but the statement he has issued as a riposte to the Royal Society is a minor classic of its genre. Vincent doesn’t so much spit the dummy as hurl it into low earth orbit, and uses pretty forthright language as he does so.
At last, the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition publish their response to the Royal Society of New Zealand’s recent statement on climate change. As I predicted, they’ve made my day. Let’s consider the circumstances. We have the nation’s leading science organisation, and a panel of the nation’s leading climate scientists – including a few Nobel prizewinners – presenting the evidence for climate change. And then we have the Climate “Science” Coalition:
It beggars the imagination that an expert committee can launch a public statement about climate change that is so partial in its arguments and so out of date in its science.
Yeah, right. It “beggars the imagination” that a bunch that seriously believes it has a chance of influencing public policy can issue a statement so seriously factually incorrect and so deliberately misleading.
Interesting to see how one opinion poll can say different things to different people. Over the weekend, Fran O’Sullivan in The Herald referred to a survey commissioned by the NZ Institute of Economic Research (they of the mostly useless recent report on the economics of the ETS). Here’s what Fran noticed:
The detailed survey shows extraordinary ignorance by New Zealanders. It indicates only one-third of the country believes in climate change in the first place. Only 13 per cent strongly support the ETS, with less than half the country aware of the scheme’s existence until prompted by surveyors.
The usual suspects have been trotting out a similar take on the survey. But it seemed fishy to me (and to No Right Turn). The results don’t seem to square with other online polls on the subject. So I downloaded the survey results and had a look [PDF].