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

SeaLevel_report_GWPFPolicies That Try To Stop ‘Global’ Sea-Level Rise Are Costly & Ineffective

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 UK¹s 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)

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to. s
May 7, 2014 8:12 am

As the sea levels continue to rise at a linear rate of 1-3mm/yr as they have for centuries with no discernible acceleration. This study is all fine and dandy and is as logical as Spock, but we should spend billions more just in case. (rolls eyes)

May 7, 2014 8:16 am

I agree that sea level rise is a problem we need to deal with, but do the powers that be realize that the current period of sea level rise began some 10000 years ago at the end of the Wisconsian Ice Age and not the beginning of the industrial revolution?

May 7, 2014 8:25 am

When do we start planning on relocating all the cities like Chicago that will be buried under a few miles of ice in 10,000 years? I don’t suppose the Climate models project that 500 ppm of CO2 is going to stop the onset of the Ice Age? Or perhaps everyone in government knows something we dont like they plan to save fossil fuels in the ground because in 9900 years we’ll need to burn them like crazy to save property values in St. Paul and Toronto from crashing under a wall of ice.

May 7, 2014 8:39 am

Maybe they just do not have enough sieves to bail with?

May 7, 2014 8:49 am

Millimeters? What happens when a 30 foot tidal wave hits?

May 7, 2014 8:55 am

“We.” “We.” “We.”
Sea level rise is not a “we” problem. Governments want to involve themselves, because that’s what governments do. Never miss an opportunity for more control, more jobs, more money.

May 7, 2014 9:03 am

What amazes me is that this report comes just after one of the coldest winters on USA history and most mass media do not even question it.

May 7, 2014 9:10 am

A survey of the NOAA mean sea level trends at the several score gauges that the agency operates reveals that, according to gauge data, SL is flat for the Gulf of Mexico and the West coast, with the exception of two gauges: Grand Isle, La. which shows a spurious rise due to the extreme subsidence there and Neah Bay, Wash., which shows a declining trend, for what reason I cannot say. This flat trend continues up the Atlantic Coast as far as Virginia where the trend changes, inexplicably, and most gauges show a slight rise, excepting a few. According to this, the SL trend has been flat since the end of the last century in the Gulf of Mexico and on the West coast and also the Southern half of the Atlantic coast, but the SL has been rising from Virginia northward.
This data basically refutes the claim that sea level is on the rise globally and that satellite altimetry, as given us, is a reliable indicator of sea level.

May 7, 2014 9:22 am

“Living with Uncertainty” and geologic history.
Sea Level has risen over 380 feet in the past 18,000 years since the retreat of the last Ice Age.
Here is a clue: If there is limestone bedrock under your home, then it is a real good indication that at one time the location of your home was once under water and someday will be again, all without the help of man.
We only borrow land near the sea.
Nomadic Hotels and Lighthouses Oct. 20, 2008. (Brighton Beach Hotel on Coney Island (1888), Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (1999))

May 7, 2014 9:26 am

Scientist(s): I’m pretty sure everyone will just stand around with their mouth open until the water close above their heads & they drown (in 4000 years).
Sinful Crabno Deniar: Speak for yourself, mouth-breather.
Scientist(s): There’s a 97% consensus among Climate Scientists that the mouth is a larger & more efficient aperture through which to recieve oxygen.

May 7, 2014 9:58 am

The report leaves out one of the most alarm-busting plots of all, yet cites in detail the study it originates from:
“Church and White (2006, 2011) suggested that the long-term sea-level rise acceler-
ated during the late 20th century. Because their work is based on merged satellite and
tide-gauge datasets, these studies are problematic and have to be used with caution.
Break point and other statistical analyses indicate a significant change in the under-
lying characteristics of the data around 1992 (Chambers et al. 2012), i.e. at the com-
mencement of satellite measurements. This implies either that a fundamental change
in sea-level processes occurred in 1992, or that the satellite data behave differently to
the tide-gauge data – the latter view being supported by Wunsch et al. (2007) and
Domingues et al. (2008). But in any case, linear trends calculated over periods as short
as 20–30 years (as the satellite data are) cannot be viewed as reliable indicators of the
long-term rate of sea-level change.”
Unlike the 2006 paper, the 2011 update included a simple plot of the average of world tide gauges, in yellow, atop other plots that obscured its pencil straight linearity in utter defiance of nearly every climate alarmist headline ever written, here extracted in black with an added trend line:
If the extra heat is suddenly hiding in the oceans, unlike before when it showed up in the global average temperature, then this would immediately show up as a surge in sea level rise, but it doesn’t. So “adjustments” are made that instead of correcting errors create a virtual sea level out of hand waving arguments, an indeed the attempt to ignore the systematic mismatch between satellites and tide gauges. NASA’s web site even cuts tide gauge data off to hide its clear falsification of claims of acceleration.

May 7, 2014 10:27 am

It appears that local sea level rise, SLR, is correlated to rainfall over the oceans.
Does anyone know if this has been researched? Are there any publications on sea level versus rainfall?
It seems that very high SLR immediately east of the Philippines and Papua New Guinea also has some of the highest rainfall amounts. But, the ocean just west of North and South America has little rainfall and almost no SLR.

Michael Gordon
May 7, 2014 10:56 am

mpainter says: May 7, 2014 at 9:10 am “Neah Bay, Wash., which shows a declining trend, for what reason I cannot say.”
All tidal gauges in Oregon and Washington show declining sea level. Since sea level cannot actually be different one place than another (for very long anyway) one need only look at the geography — coastal mountain ranges — and remember that the coast is riding on top of a subduction zone, the “ring of fire”. South of where the San Andreas fault extends into the sea north of San Francisco you’ll find slight sea level rise (land subsidence).
Meanwhile the entire eastern seaboard is being slowly stretched across the Mid-Atlantic Rift. Stretch makes thin. But that’s all small stuff compared to subsidence caused by groundwater pumping and oil extraction (in the Gulf of Mexico).
There’s more to it than that of course but the steep mountains of the PNW suggest uplift of the tide gauges.

May 7, 2014 11:46 am

Why aren’t Hawaiians more concerned? I was very fortunate to visit that beautiful state as a child with my parents and have subsequently returned as an adult. The time span covering my visits is all encompassed in the post-WWII era, so hence the period of highest CO2 emissions.
I can accept that changes to this point are sufficiently small (measured in cm or mm) that I cannot perceive them on any visits but I would think that were this quite so consequential as it’s made out to be, the good people of Hawaii and notably their public servants should be in quite the tizzy about this. So why aren’t they?
It is my understanding that only the Big Island (and a newer, as yet underwater sister island) are only still growing in size, so surely the rest, Oahu included are both shrinking/sinking and sustaining the impacts of rising sea levels. So again I ask why aren’t they worried?
Perhaps because there’s really not much to adapt to at all?

May 7, 2014 12:31 pm

Lessee… 1.2mm/year & 25.4mm/inch…….
My plan is to have my trouser cuffs hemmed up an inch every 20 years or so.
Plan B is to let laundry shrinkage take care of the problem.
If it gets really bad, Plan C is to switch from trousers to kilts, which should keep me ahead of the game until I die.
Let’s leave government out of this, shall we?

May 7, 2014 1:27 pm

buggs says:
May 7, 2014 at 11:46 am
Oahu included are both shrinking/sinking and sustaining the impacts of rising sea levels. So again I ask why aren’t they worried?
They import sand for the beaches from Australia.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
May 7, 2014 1:56 pm

From H.R. on May 7, 2014 at 12:31 pm:

My plan is to have my trouser cuffs hemmed up an inch every 20 years or so.
Plan B is to let laundry shrinkage take care of the problem.

You forgot to include the GIA, the General Infirmity Adjustment. You likely hit peak bone mass thus maximum height in your late twenties, and starting around 40 you’ll be gradually shrinking as you lose bone mass, about 1 cm (0.4 inches) every 10 years.
Guesstimating half the height loss is in the legs, as they’re roughly as long as the torso, that makes the hemming up about an inch and a half every 20 years or so.
But at least that’ll take care of the worn and frayed cuff ends.

May 7, 2014 6:32 pm

I’m surprised that many of the earlier commenters have not grasped what this report is all about. The authors make a lot of sense…They say look at local effects, don’t worry about global models, and plan sea defences accordingly. Just ask the Dutch to see how well this response can work.

May 7, 2014 6:52 pm

The same advice that would relate to those who live in other (not so good) geographies that would be affected, would apply.
Move!, and you will.
Just sayin,,,,,,,,

Tom Englert
May 7, 2014 8:01 pm

Given the forecast 3 mm annual rise in sea level predicted by the warmists, I would propose the building of a 30 mm sea wall along the shores of the inhabited continents.
This would provide 10 years of protection without unnecessary expense. We could then add additional 30 mm increments as necessary. For the safety of mankind and protection of coastal property, this would surely be a reasonable level of mitigation.

Dr. Strangelove
May 7, 2014 8:44 pm

We cannot stop sea level rise because it is a natural phenomenon. Sea level rose 75 mm from 1870-1940 before humans put substantial amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere. The solution is adaptation. Holland is 7,000 mm below sea level. The Dutch built massive dikes and literally drained the North Sea using pumps. They reclaimed a land 25 times larger than Manhattan Island. There’s an old Dutch saying: “God created the world, the Dutch made Holland.”

May 7, 2014 9:11 pm

” the current period of sea level rise began some 10000 years ago at the end of the Wisconsian Ice Age”
So its all the fault of Wisconsin? Let Wisconsin clear it up, then.

May 8, 2014 1:53 am

Tom Englert

John M
May 8, 2014 4:19 am

The most cost effective way to deal with SLR is to stop using the adjusted satellite figures and stick to the old trusty tide guages. Problem solved, no SLR !

Richard Weatherly
May 8, 2014 5:40 am

Someone indicated a level SL rise for the Gulf of Mexico area. It looks like the data shows a modest rise (2 mm/yr). I’m I looking at the wrong data?

DD More
May 8, 2014 12:13 pm

I liked a mitigation suggested in a comment section credited to an Australian coastal official “Every 15 years or so, take one step back away from sea.”

May 8, 2014 1:57 pm

I looked at what Australian Climate change expert Tim Flannery, Al Gore and many other leading experts did with the money earned from there advocatory roles. They bought water front houses. So did I. If they don’t think the sea level is going to rise as indicated by there actions, ignoring there words, why should I take them seriously. It’s just a money making business.

May 9, 2014 7:22 am

Michael Gordon:
My survey of NOAA mean SL charts shows that all gauges in Wash. & Or. show a flat trend beginning before 2000, excepting the Neah Bay. It seems that you have not studied these, or you have some other uncited source. I sugest that you study the data source That I cited so that you can better judge for yourself.
In fact you err if you attribute anything but a flat trend to any west coast NOAA SL gauge. Again, urge that you study the NOAA data.

May 9, 2014 7:28 am

Richard Weatherly:
I did. The NOAA mean SL data shows for this century a flat trend for Gulf Coast gauges. Go see for yourself. Beware of other sources that cite NOAA, such as PSMSL or the U of Colorado. These fabricate rising sea levels.
The SL business is just more of the global warming propaganda machine. Do not believe satelite altimetry- it is rigged. Use data fgron NOAA or some such reliable source.

May 9, 2014 11:23 pm

Well when Bermuda starts to suffer drastic sea rises, then there will be something to worry about.
It’s highest point is only 150 ft absl.

May 10, 2014 7:40 pm

Don’t spend anything, just make sure you move to higher ground before your beachfront property becomes worthless. Also, don’t tell anyone. If too many people know, your property may lose it’s value before you manage to sell it!

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