New Report Urges Cost-Effective Adaptation To Sea-Level Change

  • Date: 07/05/14
  • Global Warming Policy Foundation

A new report published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation stresses the importance of revising the current expensive policies that seek to mitigate an assumed global sea-level rise by cutting human carbon dioxide emissions.

The report, co-authored by Dr Willem de Lange (Waikato University) and Dr Bob Carter (formerly Otago and James Cook Universities), provides a succinct summary of the primary scientific issues relevant to devising cost-effective policies regarding sea-level change, and identifies that adaptation is more cost-effective than mitigation, a similar conclusion to that reached by the IPCC in their recent 5th Assessment Report.

“Though sea-level change is presented to the public as a singular issue of damaging global rise, such simplicity only exists in the virtual reality imagined by computer models,” said Dr Carter, continuing that “the reality is that at different locations around the world sea-level is either rising or falling at individual rates of up to several mm/year, depending upon the local circumstances.”

The report argues that such local and regional variability must be recognized in any sensible national sea-level policy plan, which must deal with the reality of measured sea-level change on nearby coasts rather than with a notional and speculative global average sea-level.

Dr de Lange stresses that some excellent coastal management plans of this type already exist, for example the UK’s Thames Estuary 2100 project. “This plan assesses the vulnerability of the City of London to storm surge and flood impacts associated with relative sea-level rise, and it is one of first major flood risk assessments in the world that places adaptation to climate change at its core,” said Dr de Lange.

The new report presents three major sea-level policy conclusions, which are:

* Abandonment of costly and ineffectual policies aimed at stopping ‘global’ sea-level rise.

* Recognition of the local or regional nature of sea-level hazard and the requirement for location specific policy that needs to cover particular cases of both rising and falling sea-level.

* Use of planning controls that are flexible and adaptive in nature, including the deployment of environmentally suitable engineering solutions to particular coastal problems.

Full report (PDF)