Dr Jan Wright is new Zealand’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. She has just released a report on sea level rise. The full report is refreshingly easy to read and is here.
The take-home message from the report is that a projected 30cm rise in sea level will cost about $3 billion in a few decades from now in terms of lost infrastructure and buildings.
Unfortunately, the report is based on IPCC sea level rise data. A couple of things need to be said about IPCC reporting. Firstly, the IPCC RCP 8.5 scenario (the worst they modelled for) is simply business as usual. Secondly, there is nothing in the IPCC report about deep water temperature increases contributing to sea level rise.
Two recent studies that received a fair amount of mainstream coverage have drawn attention to the possibility of sea level rises way in excess of what the IPCC predicts.
James Hansen collaborated with over a dozen other climate scientists to compile a report based on paleoclimate data and concluded that sea level rise could be double that suggested by IPCC reports. The report isn’t without its critics within the scientific community and debate over some of the reports assumptions and conclusions is currently underway.
A second report by Prof Robert DeConto, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst reached similar conclusions to the Hansen report. It was published in Nature and has been made available to the public.
It might not be so silly to take a walk down the hill and say good-bye to swathes of your city or town. It seems that all we are doing is all that we have done…Actually, that’s not accurate. All that we are talking about doing, even if we translated all of our talk into action, would amount to far too little, far too late.
Updated to include further links.
Hansen speaking to Kim Hill on sea level rise.