Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Councils’ “experts” among the last still drinking Al Gore’s Kool Aid

Al Bore’s absurdist 2006 film also showed alarmist maps and videos of sea levels rising 20 feet by the by the year 2100 – a rise that would bury a big two-storey house under the sea.

None of the UN’s IPCC reports ever supported this surreal fantasy (or his entirely made-up claim that “New Zealand may be refuge as rising sea levels displace hundred of millions of people”). Indeed the latest UN IPCC report continues to dial back its alarmism, with figures showing sea level rise exhibiting no rate of acceleration at all: rising over the last 100 years at the roughly constant rate of 1.7mm. For those without a calculator, that’s  a rise of just 170mm, a level that would only be able to just barely put a strip of 6 inch thick flooring under water.

Indeed, the UN does offer scare stories suggesting accelerated rises from 410mm to 640mm for their most likely “projections.” Yet GPS and satellite measurements, only used in the last decade, indicate that “Relative Sea Level,the distance between the level of the sea and the level of neighbouring land, … frequently [shows] little sign of change during the recent decade,” even in those places like Stockholm, Pago Pago and San Francisco highlighted by the UN’s report as being especially scary1.


San Francisco, by the way, is where Al Gore owns seafront property.

So why, you might ask, are Christchurch’s “experts”2 now planning to limit what people can do on their property on the basis of guesswork suggesting seas will rise at double the rate of even the scariest of scenarios dreamed up by the UN?

_Quote5Experts” [my inverted commas] have delivered a dire warning that rising sea levels will put some suburban areas of coastal Christchurch under water within 100 years… 
    The warning comes in a $90,000 report carried out by environmental consultants Tonkin & Taylor for the city council.
    They key factor in the report is that it supersedes [my emphasis] previous estimations of sea level rises.
    Instead of sea levels rising to half a metre by 2115 as predicted by international authority Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the Tonkin & Taylor report says it will be double this.
    The report also says the worst case scenario of a sea rise of 2 metres by 2100 cannot be ruled out also.

They not only “supersede” previous reports – a curious choice of word since it’s not “superseding” previous estimates that they’re doing, it’s hyper-inflating them – they say this “will” happen, something even the UN’s “experts” are very careful not to say, calling their own much-lower estimates just “projections.”

This is not just a cocktail party discussion because …

_Quote5The report's findings will now be taken into account when the city council formulates its district plan this year, deputy-mayor Vicki Buck, said yesterday [emphasis mine] …
    The Tonkin & Taylor report for the city council [recommends] areas of the eastern suburbs … be abandoned in a "managed retreat."
    Managed retreat means a strategic decision is made by authorities to abandon or relocate properties and assets in the area.

imageI’d imaging that if those are your properties or assets you are forced by these pricks to “abandon or relocate,” you might be a trifle angry about a retreat, “managed” or otherwise. In which case, feel free to give the “experts” at Tonkin and Taylor a call. And maybe another to Vicki Buck and her fellow councillors.

Because even if in the tiny, improbable outside chance these bastards were to be proved right (and who’s going to be alive to be sued ninety years from now for incompetence?) isn’t this a risk you’re entitled to take for yourself? After all, if this were to happen, any change would happen at such a “glacial” pace that an unhampered market would easily allow folk to adjust to it through the obvious price signals that would emerge**. And if Al “The Waters Are Rising” Gore can buy and develop waterfront property, then why the hell can’t you?

As Bryce Wilkinson said last last year after Environment Ministry cretins recommended all councils adopt these scary scenarios in a bid to get home-owners away from the coast,

This comes as New Zealand's chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, has been calling for a greater weighting on objective evidence in policy formation.
Waiting for objective statistically-significant evidence of a marked acceleration in sea-level rise should not be too much to ask. It's not as if coast-loving property owners are facing an imminent, undetected risk.
Another policy consideration concerns the lack of a case for interfering in private risk-taking.
Some scientists and policy advisers seem to be fond of the vacuous "precautionary principle" mantra that uncertainty about science does not justify inaction. Of course not, but neither does it justify action.

Especially not “action” that is simply government action banning private action.

Risk is a personal thing. The only rational approach to risk is to assess likelihoods, costs and benefits and one's own risk preferences.
Perhaps nervous investors should not buy beach houses - or invest in the share market. But risk was never a good policy reason for discouraging risk-takers from making risky investments using their own money.

New Zealanders are adults, not children. Leave them alone to take their own risks and make their own choices3 – and leave them to take responsibility for those choices.

And stop relying on experts that are anything but.

* * * *

1. If you think there’s something “off” in those Manila figures, scientist Vincent Gray says you’re probably right:

Manila is a rogue record.The following website states that the gauge is subject to subsidence:
The following records from the Philippines, show no recent rise:


2. Definition of climate “expert”: A parrot that can only say, “things are worse than we thought.”

3. If sea levels really began rising at the catastrophic rate needed to get to the levels suggested by Tonkin + Taylor and Al Gore, then prices of seafront property would plunge (sorry), and uphill properties rise. This would of course open up opportunities both for entrepreneurial skeptics and committed warmists…


Dolf said...

There is a saying that one should never attribute to malice , that which can be explained by incompetence. Having said that, the little corner of my heart that loves conspiracy theories can't shake the idea that there is a killing to be made by devaluing, and acquiring cheaply, coastal property which can be resold at a handsome profit when the alarmists are proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

An excellent scheme to make money... Get the Public Address list of regular commenters, scare the beejezus out of them with various selected climate propagan.... errr.... reports and convince them to sell up quick. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. They're totally wetting themselves at the moment.

MarkT said...

Copy of the report is here.

If you read the detail of the report Tonkin don’t claim to be experts in this area, and the 1m rise is a conservative assumption based on a literature review. In their partial defence the graph on page 7 shows clearly that the 1m rise is in the upper end of the range of possibilities the IPCC has reported on, and they do highlight the uncertainties. They are not saying the sea level ‘would’ rise 1m, they are saying it ‘could’ rise 1m. It seems the main issue is sloppy reporting from the Herald.

In saying that I agree Tonkin could have been much clearer in their wording and explain (particularly in the executive summary) that they're not experts and that it’s a conservative guess on their part based purely on what others have said. The reason they’ve increased their projection from 0.5m in 1999 to 1.0m in 2013 is also not explained well.

It’s not well understood that when you engineer for flood or seismic events you’re dealing with inherent uncertainty. The value you predict all comes down to your confidence level. You need reasonable confidence the level you design for won’t be exceeded (to cover your butt). If say your confidence level is 95% that the sea level rise won’t exceed 1m, that means there’s a 5% chance it will exceed 1m, but a 95% chance it will be less. The mid-range value will be at the 50% confidence level, but this is usually not what gets reported or recommended – nor is the inherent conservatism explained. A lot of the decisions around seismic risk of land in Chch are being based on similarly high confidence levels of around 95%, and therefore allow for scenarios that will probably never happen.

Eastern Christchurch is suffering and will continue to suffer flooding problems, but that’s largely due to subsidence following the earthquakes, where the land sunk by 0.2-0.5m as a result of what’s underneath liquefying and turning to jelly. This is something Tonkin do know something about and the report details the subsidence issue well. My understanding is that the 1m rise they’ve assumed is in addition to this subsidence, but again the report does lack clarity on this issue.

Rivera's Way said...

The polar Ice caps are melting; only a fool denies solid evidence in front of them...