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2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #43

Posted on 28 October 2017 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

Coal use must 'pretty much' be gone by 2050 to curb sea-level rise, researchers say

Antarctic Sea Ice 

Warming waters are melting the Antarctic ice sheets from below. Photo: APT

Coal use will have to be "pretty much" gone by mid-century if the planet is to avoid sea-level rise of more than a metre by 2100 as Antarctic ice sheets disintegrate faster than expected, new modelling by an Australian-led team has found.

On business-as-usual projections, sea-level rise by the end of the century could exceed 1.3 metres compared with the 1986-2005 average, or 55 per cent more than predicted in the Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to research published in the Environmental Research Letters journal.

"We have provided a preview of what will have to be considered and assessed in more detail by the upcoming Sixth IPCC report," due for release in 2021, said Alexander Nauels, lead author of the report, and a researcher at Melbourne University's Australian-German Climate & Energy College. 

Coal use must 'pretty much' be gone by 2050 to curb sea-level rise, researchers say by Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald, Oct 26, 2017

Links posted on Facebook

Sun Oct 22, 2017

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. Many people appear to remain unfortunately scepticial or complacent about sea level rise. I think we have a sort of perception problem that explains why a lot of people seem somewhat complacent about sea level rise impacts. We have had about 200mm over the last century which is so small and slow you hardly notice, and infrastructure easily adjusts (in the main, I know we are seeing problems emerge now etc and it depends on location etc). Its generally within the margins of safety when designing building platform heights, roads, and drainage systems. Buildings last about 50 - 80 years and when replaced its easy to build slightly higher foundations if required.

    People are very conditioned to this long term pattern. It's probably very hard for many to visualise how a seemingly innocuous change to maybe 10mm per year or so and 1 metre per century would effect things quite seriously, because they have known nothing like it, and it seems distant, and just seems like a case of move to higher ground in some orderly fashion. But in fact one metre will leave many buildings and infrastructure useless well before its intended life expires, especially if we go on allowing building on low ground.

    Drainage systems just stop functioning when inundated with water, and well before actual buildings are effected, and there are not simple answers to this. They have all been designed around very low levels of sea level rise past century, not for one metre or more.

    You can keep water out of communities with barriers sometimes (at considerable expense) but thats only part of the issue. 

    Florida have already experienced quite significant sea level rise in parts recently and are starting to feel the impacts, yet remain in complete denial for the most part. It astounds me. You would think they would at least change building codes to require higher foundations, and stop developing very low lying lands for buildings.

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  2. It's not just the 200mm that makes a difference in most places, it's the more ferocious, more frequent storms, that send bigger storm surges into areas previously not regarded as vulnerable. Part of that problem seems to be the reluctance of many communities to face up to it for fear that it will provoke a catastrophic collapse of confidence in property values. I guess time will sort that out.

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  3. Kiwiano, you have raised an interesting point there, people in denial about sea level rise out of fear of admission and action leading to property price crash. It would be interesting to do polls on opinion on climate change in low lying areas and higher ground and compare the results.

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  4. Half a dozen European countries have committed to zero coal power production between 2022 and 2030... thus, the 2050 limit cited does not seem impossible. It seems that China and India are turning the corner and likely that any future industrialization (e.g. Africa) will follow a renewable path from the start. Political forces in the US and Australia are still desperately pushing coal, but they are clearly losing the battle... and the day is coming when coal companies won't be able to afford to buy politicians any more.

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