Threats of sea level rise, security implications of climate change

An Otago University research paper warns that the effects of sea level rise will impact most on vulnerable people (that’s likely), while a Defence Assessment “identifies climate change as one of the most significant security threats of our time”.

While it is still debatable how much the sea level is likely to rise there is no doubt it has been (slowly) rising over the past half century.

Some still say nothing should be done about climate change, but academics and officials are at least thinking and writiing reports about possible effects and implications.

RNZ:  Sea level rise threatens major NZ infrastructure – report

The burden of sea-level rise will weigh on the most vulnerable unless a new approach is developed and legislated, a new report says.

The paper, written by University of Otago Associate Professor Lisa Ellis, is part of research from the Deep South National Science Challenge. It looks at how New Zealand distributes the risks of sea-level rise.

It proposes an “ethically robust” policy to adapt to the risks of climate change.

Tens of thousands of buildings, infrastructure including airports, railways, and roads, and more than 100,000 residents are at risk of serious loss and damage associated with sea-level rise within the next century.

Dunedin’s airport is low lying, and has already flooded.

Image result for dunedin airport flooded

Flooding on the Taieri Plain, 1980 (airport in lower half of photo)

Rising sea levels and predicted more rain and storms would make this sort of ‘100 year flood’ more common.

South Dunedin in also low lying (it is reclaimed swamp) and has flooded in recent years.

Prof Ellis said sea-level rise was entirely predictable but if New Zealand was proactive about adaptation to climate change, peoples’ wellbeing would not be threatened.

But she said it was possible existing inequality would be exacerbated and the cost of adapting to climate change would rise if the status quo remained.

Her report recommended a government resource about adapting to sea-level rise nationwide, so community resilience did not vary with ratepayers’ ability to pay.

At local level the public should be engaged as early and deeply as possible.

Also from RNZ:  Sea level rise threatens major NZ infrastructure (audio)

Local Government New Zealand: Young and vulnerable shouldn’t shoulder sea-level rise burden

A report released this morning by the Deep South National Science Challenge supports LGNZ’s call for a national framework to deal with sea-level rise, saying that New Zealand’s youngest and most vulnerable are at risk of shouldering the burden if we don’t act now.

“Preliminary findings from our upcoming sea-level rise report shows that billions of dollars of local government roading, water and public transport infrastructure is at risk from as little as half a metre of sea-level rise.  That’s not including private buildings and houses, including potentially billions of dollars in residential real estate,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.

“Areas like South Dunedin illustrate just how difficult it is to adapt to climate change without hitting lower socio-economic families in the pocket, so we need a national plan that doesn’t leave anyone behind.”

“Local government stands alongside our communities on the front line in the fight against climate change, but we can’t do it alone – we need central government to set stronger, national rules around risk and liability to property owners in the path of sea-level rise.”

Research from NIWA reveals that sea level rise in New Zealand has increased from 1.7mm a year over the past century, to 4.4mm a year since 1993, which is higher than the global average.  In combination with more severe weather events, storm surges and king tides, sea-level rise presents a huge problem for coastal businesses and residents.

“We need to treat sea-level rise the way we do earthquakes, and that requires a national strategy that gives councils a stronger platform on which to make decisions about building in high-risk areas.”

Ministers of Defence, Climate Change: Defence Assessment on Climate Change and Security Released

Minister of Defence Ron Mark and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw have today released a Defence Assessment on the security implications of climate change.

The Climate Crisis: Defence Readiness and Responsibilities explores the implications of climate change for New Zealand Defence Force operations.

It identifies climate change as one of the most significant security threats of our time, and one that is already having adverse impacts both at home and in New Zealand’s neighbourhood.

“This Government is committed to ensuring New Zealand does its part to address climate change,” says Ron Mark.  “This means both contributing to mitigating climate change itself, and working with our international partners to respond to the intensifying impacts climate change will bring.

“Earlier this year the Government’s Strategic Defence Policy Statement recognised climate change will have a big impact on Defence operations, particularly in the Pacific.

“It proceeded to highlight that disruptive weather patterns are causing an increased frequency and intensity of weather extremes such as cyclones, rainfall events, droughts, and flooding from sea level rise. In addition, the state of the Southern Ocean is changing, meaning our current vessels are getting close to the limits of being able to operate safely.

“Therefore it stands to reason that we needed to look deeper in order to better understand the social and security implications of climate change, and what our Defence Force will face when it responds to these weather events.

“The Coalition Government already has a work programme underway to help alleviate the effects of climate change.  This includes re-energised Pacific policy settings, the development of a new climate change law, and the commitment to make 100 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity renewable by 2035,” says James Shaw.

The assessment has been produced by the Ministry of Defence in consultation with the New Zealand Defence Force, other New Zealand agencies, Pacific partners and academics.

There is certain to be a lot of ongoing talk about the possible effects and implications of climate change and sea level rise, but it is yet to be seen whether there will be any significant action.


  1. robertguyton

     /  December 7, 2018

    Very few here on the ostrich farm will believe those claim, Pete.

    • Gezza

       /  December 7, 2018

      I feel quite hurt by that remark. Are you calling me an ostrich now?

      • Gerrit

         /  December 7, 2018

        No, Robert is calling Pete George the farmer (it is his blog) and he himself the ostrich by commenting here..

        • Gezza

           /  December 7, 2018

          Well, he needs to get a grip on himself then, Self-abuse is still abuse. Everyone’s agreed there’s too much abuse happening in NZ.

      • robertguyton

         /  December 7, 2018

        Not everyone on an ostrich farm is an ostrich, Gezza. Someone, usually dressed in dungarees, has to broadcast grain to the birds and pull their heads out of the sand when they get stuck.

        • Gezza

           /  December 7, 2018

          Are you calling me an ostrich. That’s what I want to know. Because that seems very insulting and I’m getting tired of you telling me you don’t do that when I reckon you do. A lot.

          • robertguyton

             /  December 7, 2018

            I think of you more as the dungaree guy. You love birds, don’t you? You’d rescue a stuck pukeko, I’m certain.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  December 7, 2018

    The poor are stuffed because the Government won’t do anything for them and certainly won’t let them do anything for themselves.

  3. Treuddyn Ted

     /  December 7, 2018

    So the evil socialists together with corrupt groups like the UN, Club of Rome, IPCC, continue pushing their world population control agenda with the fake science and junk models.
    It’s getting to the beyond a joke stage when Aussie schoolkids are ‘going on strike’ through being indoctrinated by this bullshit global warming scam. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has the right idea “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”
    Teachers need to to be telling the truth to schoolkids -how the world works and functions, about natural climate cycles that have already turned from warming to cooling and and that global temperatures will continue to decline for some time.
    Plants need more Co2, not less.
    Listen to climatologist Dr Tim Ball

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  December 7, 2018

    I see the sea level has recently risen faster in the southern hemisphere than the northern. Unless that’s due to land deformation differences it’s probably temporary or cyclical.

  5. Noel

     /  December 7, 2018

    No wonder Minister Ron Marks who is also Minister of Veterans Affairs has failed to secure a response to Professor Patterson’s recommendations for changes in the Veterans Support Act which were tabled way back in August. More pressing this?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 7, 2018

      What sort of veterans? Veterans tells us nothing. If they mean armed forces, they should say so.

      • NOEL

         /  December 7, 2018

        Kitty Veteran has been in the legislation since 1942. It applies to those members of the Forces who have served in operational areas.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 7, 2018

          Ah. I thought that perhaps it was more Americanisms coming in.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 7, 2018

          Er…I have heard it, War Veterans….oops…

  6. MaureenW

     /  December 7, 2018

    …any significant action?”
    The insurance companies are acting. Not much in the way of hand-wringing from them – just raising premiums and declaring various areas uninsurable.

  7. Gezza

     /  December 7, 2018

    And in related news just in:

    Scientists think they’ve figured out the falling dominoes that led to Earth’s largest mass extinction and worry that human-caused climate change puts the planet on a vaguely similar path.

    Some 250 million years ago, about 90 per cent of sea life and 70 per cent of land life went extinct in what is now called the Great Dying.

    A new study in Thursday’s journal Science used complex computer simulations to plot out what happened after the volcanoes blew: It led to ocean temperatures rising by about 11 degrees, which then starved the seawater of oxygen. That hot oxygen-starved water caused the mass marine die-off, especially farther from the equator.

    After the volcanoes blew, the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide soared to a level more than 12 times what it is today. Scientists looked at dozens of modern species to see what happens to them in warmer, oxygen-starved water and that helped them understand the past extinction.

    One of the keys in the research is that more species died off away from the equator, because tropical species were more acclimated to low oxygen levels

    The ancient die-off shows almost exactly what lies at the end of the road we’re on, according to study co-author Curtis Deutsch, an Earth scientist at the University of Washington. “We’re really doing the same thing to Earth’s climate and oceans.”

    The study calculated that if heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions continue on current levels, by the year 2300, the globe will experience 35 to 50 per cent of the extinction level seen in the Great Dying.

    • Treuddyn Ted

       /  December 7, 2018

      And when people who call themselves scientists come up with “they think they’ve figured out the falling dominoes that led to Earth’s largest mass extinction and worry that human-caused climate change puts the planet on a vaguely similar path” we can immediately see they’re not using scientific methodology.

      • Gezza

         /  December 7, 2018

        Well, exactly. This is the problem I have with anyone arguing on the basis of their expert knowledge of exact climatic and local weather conditions based on ice cores and tree rings n stuff.

        Jaweh slipped up big time by not giving Adam a solar-powered date-stamping video camera and instruction manual & an order form for more of them to bequeath to his heirs and successors (or maybe given it to Eve, since who knows what Adam would have been videoing it with once he got an eyeful of her).

        It’s the sort of oversight know-alls like Jaweh get caught out by all the time when what they tell everyone turns out to be utter bullshit.

      • Gezza

         /  December 7, 2018

        But on a more serious note “scientists” rushing to publish hypotheses in the popular press that are little more than conjecture have not been subject to thorough critical review by true peers is now a common complaint across pretty well all the various fields of science. I read stuff like this now and think – I “knew” as a child after looking at my big book of dinousaurs that birds were dinosaurs because all the dead seagulls and other seabird skeletons I saw all the time on the beach looked like little T-Rexes with longer arms. But I never said anything because people would have larfed at me and I didn’t know the evidence of virtually all the intermediate forms and even feathered dinosaurs with four-winged legs was actually going to start turning up in China and other countries in just a decade or two.

  8. Dave K

     /  December 7, 2018

    Griff and BobbyG help me out here….

    Just yesterday we had tales of ohhhhnooooooes its worse than we thought impending doom with Greenland melting like an ice cube in the sun

    Off the carts even

    Yet the dudes who are on the ground (

    are saying batshit crazy stuff like:

    – As in the previous year, 2018 was yet another year of with a low degree of melting of the ice sheet

    – The onset of ablation was 25 June, 13 days after median

    – Observations from the 18 weather stations in the melting region if the Ice Sheet indicate that the average degree of melting was the lowest recorded during the 10 years in which observations have been made

    – The albedo of the Ice Sheet was record high in May, June and the beginning of August

    – At the end of the 2018 season (31 August 2018), the net surface mass balance was 517 Gt, which means 517 Gt more snow fell than the quantity of snow and ice that melted and ran out to sea

    Crazy fuckers those danes (taking the piss calling the place Greenland for a start), did no-one tell them to get with the programme?

  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  December 7, 2018

    Further to my comment the other day, AI is getting a lot smarter, learning to solve problems “intuitively” rsther than by brute force:

    It’s just plain dumb to think we can solve long term problems like climate change with the knowledge and actions available today since both are advancing so quickly. We need to be focused on today’s problems, not next century’s.