The usual stupid straight-line extrapolation; No mention that sea levels have stopped rising in recent years; No mention that we could well be in the middle of an ice-age by then
Almost 250,000 homes, now worth up to $63 billion, will be "at risk of inundation" by the end of the century, under "worst-case but plausible" predictions of rising sea levels. The study -- released ahead of the crucial Senate vote on Labor's emissions trading scheme -- modelled the effect of a 1.1m sea-level rise on cities and towns around Australia. This is a higher level than the 79cm end-of-century rise predicted by the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but in the mid-range of some subsequently published research.
It found between 157,000 and 247,000 homes "at risk of inundation" -- meaning they would be permanently flooded or frequently flooded by storm surges or king tides -- with hospitals, water-treatment plants and other public buildings also found to be at risk. Even Sydney airport would be at "increased risk" of inundation, according to the study, written by the Department of Climate Change with input from CSIRO, Geosciences Australia and scores of academics.
The study -- which models possible risks down to township and local government areas complete with aerial photographs of towns showing the possible inundation -- appears timed to give the public a sharp reminder of the possible dangers of climate change. It also increases pressure on the opposition as the government's ETS bill is brought back to parliament next week.
It found NSW had "the greatest exposure", with between 40,800 and 62,400 homes at risk, followed by Queensland (35,900 to 56,900), Victoria (27,600 to 44,600), South Australia (25,200 to 43,000) and Western Australia (18,700 to 28,000). Within each state, it identified the local government areas where property was most "at risk" -- for NSW, Lake Macquarie, Wyong, Gosford, Wollongong, Shoalhaven and Rockdale; for Queensland, Moreton Bay, Mackay, the Gold Coast, Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast; and for Victoria, Kingston, Geelong, Wellington and Port Phillip.
The study says that "based on the recent science 1.1m was selected as a plausible value for sea-level rise for this risk assessment. It is important to note that the purpose of a risk assessment is to identify areas of risk and therefore plausible worse-case scenarios need to be considered."
Andrew Ash, director of the CSIRO climate-change adaption flagship, said the 1.1m sea-level rise was "certainly plausible". "As things stand, the only variation will be exactly when we reach that level," Dr Ash said. Given the study was meant to help government planning decisions, it was therefore "both plausible and appropriate" to model a 1.1m rise. As well as the threat of inundation, the study calculates how many buildings are under threat from "soft" erodable shorelines.
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