- Date published:
10:02 am, May 8th, 2018 - 22 comments
Categories: david clark, Environment, health, quality of life, science, Social issues, sustainability, useless, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: health, hospital, sea level, stupid
A couple of things.
I don’t have fins and am unlikely to grow any in the near future. The people of Dunedin and the wider Otago region do not have webbed hands and/or webbed feet.
Which brings me to the question of what the thought might be behind throwing NZ$1.4 billion at
Dunedein harbour building a hospital on reclaimed land by 2026. Some of the current hospital buildings were built in the 1940s. So, taking that as a very rough and ready baseline, we might expect a hospital to functional for some 80 years. Certainly, if we’re talking about just the site (so, allowing for refurbishments, upgrades, expansions and rebuilds), then much longer than that.
During the course of the next 80 years and beyond, NZ and the rest of the world will be suffering the effects of a rise in sea level that is (at current temperature and CO2 levels) going to top out at around 20m.
That 20m isn’t going to arrive all at once some sunny day in the dim and distant future. True, some of it won’t arrive until well into the next century. But some of it – the very beginnings of it – is coming up at an increasing rate right now, A fair whack of it could well be coming up in coming decades.
Whereas the IPCC is currently suggesting that 1m of sea level rise can be expected by 2100, that expectation does not take into account any contribution from Antarctica (west or east) or Greenland. Scientists and researchers studying those areas are suggesting some metres may be coming from those sources this century. They are also pretty adamant that sea level rise from those sources won’t be off the back of some slow and steady affair of gradual ice melt, but really quite fast as the ice, at least from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, undergoes a series of catastrophic collapses due to increasing physical instability.
There should be no need to point out that the conditions needed to collapse the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are being established right now. And that there’s nothing can be done to halt it, slow it or reverse it. Given that reality, an intelligent nod to the precautionary principle would have us build infrastructure well above the current level of spring high tides, not on some reclaimed land that we might reasonably expect to be back under water by mid century.
But hey, why bother thinking about stuff that isn’t about a current term of office, or that might be “a bit hard”, or that might lead to feelings of “discomfort”? Not one article I’ve read on this Dunedin Hospital build makes any mention of land elevation or sea level rise, and yet – wasn’t there a report by the Commissioner for the Environment on that very issue of infrastructure and rising sea levels not so long ago?
There’s a closed down chocolate factory (whisper it) at sea level, with the site of an ex-supermarket next door. It’s reasonably cheap central real estate. Let’s do it.
Sad to say, location, location and money probably constitute the entire depth and breadth of the thinking engaged in by politicians who, by and large and across the board, simply aren’t grasping the magnitude of what’s before us, and so are stacking up some very bad shit for people being born in the present.