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Foreshore nomoreshore

Written By: - Date published: 8:51 am, September 17th, 2009 - 15 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

Two chilling articles from last week’s Guardian Weekly just finished, both about the consequences of the world’s water getting warmer faster than expected.

The Greenland ice sheet is melting, “far faster than the climate models predicted and far more decisively than any political actions to combat our changing climate.” It’s worth a read – we could be looking at “a sea level rise of catastrophic proportions”. Scientists working at the poles are predicting a one-metre rise by 2100 – this “would require new defences for New York, London, Mumbai and Shanghai, and imperil swathes of low-lying land from Bangladesh to Florida. Vulnerable areas accommodate 10% of the world’s population – 600 million people.”

And the sockeye salmon are not spawning. According to an article in the same publication but not on-line, only 1.7 million salmon have returned to spawn in the Fraser River in British Columbia instead of the expected 10.6 million. “Salmon swim more slowly when water temperature is above 18C, with the first signs of sickness and death setting in at 20c”, and the river was recording 21C, 2.5C above normal. Fraser river salmon are restricted to First Nation fishers, and were expected to enter a “large abundance cycle”. Not any more.

While the temperature is also rising in the debate over the environment in New Zealand, these events give kaitiakitanga and the foreshore debate a whole new dimension. It’s time for urgency and long-term thinking.

15 comments on “Foreshore nomoreshore”

  1. Byron 1

    “It’s not my Government’s ambition for New Zealand to be way out in front of other countries, but it is our view that we should be doing our fair share towards resolving this global problem,” – John Key

    What happened to ambitious for New Zealand?

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      He was never ambitious for NZ. He was only ever ambitious for his and his mates wallets. He wants NZ to stay where it is politically (faux dependent upon the capitalists) and preferably to take it back a few centuries to the time of absolute rule. This is quite obvious in the about urgency since NACT came to power and the repealof even a mildy effective ETS which was then replaced by one that funneled $1.2b of taxpayer money per year into the hands of the capitalists.

      AS: bought – he certainly has been.

  2. ben 2

    It’s time for urgency and long-term thinking.

    I’ll say it is. Quick, get the sunscreen. The umbrella. Holy crap, just ONE HUNDRED YEARS to get ready for a one meter increase in ocean levels.

    More seriously

    1. a centimeter a year is not free to deal with but next to it

    2. even if we “do something” that warming is locked in, partly because of lags and partly because climate policy doesn’t make much difference to emissions

    3. the world that will have to deal with this 1m increase 100 years from now will be immeasurably wealthier than we are. What’s the argument for us comparative poorlings to needlessly make sacrifices for our much richer descendants?

    For context, atmospheric pressure causes variation of amplitude 2 meters, tides are betwen 0.2 and 10m, winds cause up to 5m variation, ocean topography up to 1m, El nino 0.6m. We DAILY comfortably deal with more variation than this century-long warming effect. Can you explain what is the problem with sea levels again?

    • Armchair Critic 2.1

      Wild stab in the dark here – it is because it is an extra metre, additional to all the other variations in sea level.
      Combine that with lots of land near the coast being relatively flat, and that flat land being preferred for habitation by people because the flat land is generally more fertile and maybe you can start to see the potential for problems.

    • Maynard J 2.2

      1: Right… well I might just pretend all’s well then.

      2: you can hardly say it is not through lack of trying, when we have not tried.

      What is this ‘locked in’, you are not playing millionaire. There are CO2 levels at which the problem will be exacerbated, and we need to act to prevent reaching those levels.

      3: Because it is the base-level that is changing. Fairly obvious there mate.

      I mean, a storm surge is only a pressure variation, and it is not like they have killed millions of people…oh wait. Now imagine them starting a fair bit higher.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      100 years from now will be immeasurably wealthier than we are.

      The way the economy works to be wealthier we (or our descendants) need to have more natural resources available to us (them). We hit Peak Oil sometime in the last two years. This means that, from now on, the natural resources available to us decreases as the energy available to extract those resources declines. This won’t be immediately apparent but will be noticeable in 10+ years.

      In 100 years our descendants aren’t going to be immeasurably wealthier than we are, they’re going to be significantly poorer and have to deal with a chaotic weather system (not the nice and benign one we have) and risen sea levels that would have swamped huge amounts of farm land and driven ~1billion or more people out of their homes.

      • ben 2.3.1

        Draco, how about putting your money where your mouth is?

        I’d be more than happy to make a bet with you on living standards going up. In fact its the easiest money I’ll make, ignoring time discounting 🙂

        I don’t know about you but I’m just young enough to make a 50 year bet. We could do lots of things ,like the global average real wage then, or better yet the number of hours labour required to buy a ton of bread at the then global average wage, or something. This will badly understate the improvement in living standards because it will understate quality improvements, but I’ll comfortably give you that margin.

        Case of wine in 2059 to the winner?

    • lprent 2.4

      The problem is that a one metre increase is the least that probably can now be expected. Personally I’m expecting something closer to 5 metres and would not be surprised by more over the century.

      It is unlikely to slowly rise, it will be punctuated with fast rises over short periods as various ice sheets disintegrate.

      Sea level rises, bad as they are, are one of the lesser problems. The biggest issue will be the climate changes impacting on agriculture, massive increases in refugees fleeing famine or storm driven coastal flooding (think New Orleans). The probability of that leading to wars is pretty high..

      But of course you don’t have enough intelligence to think of more than one bit of spin at a time… There is a word for people like you – “sucker”

      • ben 2.4.1

        Yes, fair call, I was selective picking out the sea level stuff, there are other things as you point out.

        My basic point though is that people will be in a very very good position to deal with gradual change. They will be wealthier, have clever technology, and be more mobile. Gradual changes have happened previously, with sea level rises and higher snow lines and so on, and adaptation is barely perceptible and affects few people.

        I get the prevention vs ambulance at the bottom of the cliff argument, but at some point the bang for the buck on prevention becomes so low that dealing with consequences is cheaper. The Stern revuew, notwithstanding the extraordinary contortions it had to go through to show action now is cheaper, actually shows this.

        • lprent 2.4.1.1

          Think punctuated changes in the order of

          1. Massive changes in weather patterns over a couple of years with longer periods of stability between. Shifts in weather patterns aren’t and won’t be gradual. They obey state-shift forms far more than being continuous, think of the effects of el nino or having a off-route hurricane.

          In human terms, everything is sweet and then a drought or massive storm pattern comes out of no-where. As you probably know, most economic activity is based on roughly the same thing happening from period to period rather than the extremities. That is why we have low feed stocks relative to the medium-term risk of a bad year. If the frequency goes up, then so must the reserves.

          Agriculture is the most susceptible to those types of phase shifts in weather because it is always based on expected events. Factor into your costs having to hold food stocks far higher than we do now because the weather patterns will be shifting with far more rapidity than they have in the human civilization past.

          2. Same thing with inundations. Currently the main cause of flooding in places is weather, not sea levels. Higher energy in the climate systems means bigger and rougher storms more frequently. On the coast lines this will translate into more storm surges, which in turn cause estuary induced flooding up river valleys on high tides. The problem again is that it is punctuated. The river bank defenses tend to over-whelm suddenly. There is a reason that the Dutch are massively beefing up their dikes now rather than when they have bigger storms in 10-20 years. The investment has to be made up front.

          Something like 40% of the worlds population lives in floodplain areas, and an even higher proportion of the food is grown there.

          3. The main sealevel rises will tend to be rapid. Ice doesn’t gradually melt. It goes ‘rotten’ and then ruddy great lumps slough off all at once as a whole structure collapses. Some of the susceptible sheets can add 10’s of cm’s to sealevel on their own. If they do, then it will happen over a year or so.

          Thinking that this stuff will happen gradually is just daft. This is weather and climate, not human activity.

          I won’t even go into the feedback issues that are even more worrying. They’re the types of things that cause a human centuries worth of greenhouse gases to be released in a year or so – because our contribution warmed them up enough.

          I’d also point out that I’m a massive techno-geek – not to mention a scifi and history addict. However I also know exactly how fragile the systems that support human technologies and systems are. Bad weather has a habit of destroying them easily – try Queensland floods last year to find out how fast they go down. You put in assistance and resources from outside to get past the disaster shock. What happens when there is no outside, because the weather is crap everywhere too often.

  3. Classical Liberal 3

    Before you panic, read this week’s New Scientist.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17742-worlds-climate-could-cool-first-warm-later.html

    Could mean we’ve got more time?

    “Another favourite climate nostrum was upturned when Pope [UK Met Office] warned that the dramatic Arctic ice loss in recent summers was partly a product of natural cycles rather than global warming. Preliminary reports suggest there has been much less melting this year than in 2007 or 2008.”

    • lprent 3.1

      Nope. It simply means that they have identified more of the underlying patterns…

      In candid mood, climate scientists avoided blaming nature for their faltering predictions, however. “Model biases are also still a serious problem. We have a long way to go to get them right. They are hurting our forecasts,” said Tim Stockdale of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK.

      Of course that means that scientifically illiterate CCD’s like you start wetting your jocks.

      Did you notice that this is a regional effect that they were discussing – confined to the Northern Atlantic and bordering continents. Did you notice that this is not confirmed, it is a regional theory with some backing evidence, that now has to be confirmed. Theories like this are a dime a dozen, they usually get turned over when someone has a closer look at the available evidence.

      Basically you look like yet another boring and ill-informed CCD, so I guess you won’t be able to discuss what this theory actually means…

  4. So Bored 4

    Better strip some sand away from the beaches now so that climate change deniers have something to stick their heads into.

    I think we can say goodbye to any ability to mitigate the damage from climate change, resource depletion and species termination. As a species humans are unique in their ability to believe in conceptual things such as money whilst refusing to see very real monsters right under their noses. And the more money you have it seems the less you are prepared to see.

  5. George D 5

    This is absolutely worth watching – James Balolg of the Extreme Ice Survey gives a TED Talk.

    Stunning visuals. Watch as cubic kilometres of ice disappear before your eyes.

    • Macro 5.1

      Yeah was going to suggest people have a look at that as well – It is something EVERY politician should view.
      If ever there is a sight that action is need now that is it!

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  • Letter to a friend
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  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
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  • We are not America
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  • Further measures to support businesses
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  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
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    2 days ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
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  • Essential workers leave scheme established
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    3 days ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
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    3 days ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
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  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
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    3 days ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
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  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
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    4 days ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
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  • Advance payments to support contractors
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  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
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  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
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  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
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  • Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday
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    5 days ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
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    5 days ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
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    5 days ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
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    5 days ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
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    6 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
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    6 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
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    1 week ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
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  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
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    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
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    1 week ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
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    1 week ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
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    1 week ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
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    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
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    1 week ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
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    1 week ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
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    2 weeks ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago