Guest essay by Eric Worrall
NASA’s Gavin Schmidt has provided some bizarre advice, for people building homes on the sea front, which might not be “sea level rise smart”.
According to the Vancouver Sun interview with Gavin;
Q: What is the future for waterfront cities like Vancouver?
A: You are going to have to put up with rising sea levels; they are not going to go down. But there’s a huge difference between a foot or two over 100 years and a metre or two metres. There’s a lot of waterfront development going on but is it sea-level-rise smart? I don’t know that it is. So don’t put stuff in the basement, have all your electrical equipment on the second floor or on the roof.
Just how rapidly is Gavin expecting that sea level rise to arrive? Even a metre or two per century, is not the same as the huge fictional tidal surge, in the blockbuster movie “The Day After Tomorrow“.
Lets forget for a moment, that predictions of accelerated sea level rise are not supported by observations, and consider the consequences of Gavin’s hypothetical 2m rise / century.
2 metres per century, is 20 centimetres per decade, or 2 centimetres per year.
You don’t go on permanent flood alert to defeat a 2cm per annum rise in sea level, you raise the floor a little.
Even assuming Gavin Schmidt’s rather wild 2m scenario, your property could be protected by lifting the floor 40cm (1ft 4 inches) every 2 decades. Obviously at some point, lifting the floor might become an engineering challenge – but even two lifts would preserve the viability of the property for 40 years.
Raising the floor of a house is a substantial renovation, but the technology used for raising the floor level of a house, is similar to the technology used for addressing ground subsidence – a relatively common problem.
If the sea level rise remains at a much more realistic 1ft / century, one of the owners of a near sea level property *might* have to lift the floor once.
The floor lift option does not even consider other possibilities, such as improved sea defences, or flood control pumping stations. The Dutch have been combating the sea for centuries. Much of Holland is reclaimed coastal peat bogs. Even with medieval technology, the Dutch defeated the sea.
In Venice, in Italy, people didn’t give up their houses, even when they sunk into the water. Instead they created one of the most beautiful cities in the world.