I KNOW I wrote about sea levels last week, but yet another study has been published, this one claiming that 200,000 homes in England will be lost to rising seas by 2050.
According to the BBC: ‘Nearly 200,000 properties in England may have to be abandoned due to rising sea levels by 2050, a report says. It looks at where water will cause most damage and whether defences are technically and financially feasible.
‘There is consensus among scientists that decades of sea level rise are inevitable and the government has said that not all properties can be saved. About a third of England’s coast will be put under pressure by sea level rise, the report says.
‘It just won’t be possible to hold the line all around the coast,’ says the report’s author Paul Sayers, an expert on flood and coastal risks, adding that tough decisions will have to be made about what it is realistic to protect.’
How realistic is this assessment?
The projections in the study, Responding to climate change around England’s coast – The scale of the transformational challenge, are based on two scenarios of global temperature increase:
1. An increase of 4C by 2100 from pre-industrial times
2. An increase of 2C by 2100 from pre-industrial times
The estimate of 200,000 homes is based on the 4C scenario, widely regarded by experts as extremely unrealistic.
The study projects that sea levels on the east coast will rise 140mm (five and a half inches) by 2050 under the 2C scenario, and 250mm (almost ten inches) under the 4C one.
However, even the 2C scenario bears no relation to the actual rates of rise on the east coast. At North Shields, for instance, the long-term rate of rise is 1.9mm per annum, in contrast to the projection of 5.0 mm and 8.9 mm by 2050 for the 2C and 4C scenarios.
At Lowestoft, the rise is 2.56mm, and that is partly due to the isostatic sinking of the land as it adjusts to the absent weight of ice from the last Ice Age in the north of Britain, estimated at between 0.5 and 1.0mm a year.
It is evident that sea level rise is not accelerating either. At North Shields, for instance, the rate of rise in the last 50 years is 1.54mm a year, much less than the rise during the first half of the 20thC:
Given that there has been about 190mm (seven and a half inches) of sea level rise at North Shields in the last 100 years, during which time global temperatures have risen by approximately 1C, it is stretching credibility to suggest that seas will rise by another 120mm (four and three-quarter inches) in less than 30 years because of a temperature rise of less than half a degree C.
Sea level rise is rightly a matter of concern, but alarmist studies of this nature are of no value at all. They simply serve to deflect energy and resources away from the real problems we face today. Instead there needs to be a practical assessment, based on current, known data.
In the real world, rather than the imaginary computer model world of junk scientists, seas may rise a couple of inches in the next thirty years, and the impact on coastal communities will be imperceptible. After, have any been wiped out by the eight inches experienced in the last century?
Furthermore, projecting beyond 2050 is a worthless exercise. There will be plenty of time for future generations to adapt to sea level rise closer to the time.
Auditor General’s warning on net zero costs
THE Auditor General, Gareth Davies, has warned the government that pursuit of Net Zero could lead to costs spiralling out of control with no significant environmental benefit.
Writing in the Telegraph, he said the Government must ensure the taxpayer is not short-changed by policies at a time when families are being squeezed by rising household bills.
This intervention from the Head of the National Audit Office (NAO) is, to the best of my knowledge, the first official criticism of government climate policies since the 2008 Climate Change Act was introduced.
It is a remarkable turnaround from the NAO report in 2020, Achieving Net Zero, which essentially stated that they had no idea how much Net Zero would cost, but that it would all be worth it because the cost of climate change would be much greater. This was a nonsensical thing to say, because eliminating the UK’s emissions on their own would not make the slightest difference to the world’s climate.
The simple reality is that there is no easy way to get to Net Zero. Even attempting it will inevitably be hugely expensive, as well as gravely damaging to the UK economy. Yet all sides of Parliament want us to plough on as if money grew on trees.
It is time to call an absolute halt on all further action until programmes have been properly costed and shown to be affordable.