Pearl Beach Talk

Climate Future presented on climate science to 50 people in the Pearl Beach Community Hall on Sat evening 13th Nov 2010. The meeting was organized by Pearl Beach Progress Association with help from Carole and Rachel.

The science of climate change as represented by the IPCC was overconservative. Recent measurements have shown that the climate is warming faster than projected in the 2007 IPCC Report. The targets for reductions are now closer to a reduction of 40% in emissions by 2020 in order to achieve a rise of less than 2 degrees in the global temperature.

We are relying on USA, China and Europe to lead the charge in reductions as they are the largest emitters. Australia has done very little to reduce emissions and even in NSW there is consideration of building new coal fired power stations. We need to do more. With our solar, wind, geothermal and tidal resources, Australia is very energy rich. We should be actively constructing the 100 solar concentrator power stations that we need, the 50 geothermal powerstations, the wind and tidal power. The current wind turbines being constructed are a drop in the bucket and will do very little to reduce Australias emissions (although every bit helps).

Much interest was shown during the discussion of the mapping presented on the Gosford Council web site. An explanation of the colours and the 4 different types of map was presented. The 1% flood maps show how the flood levels will increase as the sea level rises. The tidal maps indicate where tides will reach to and the ocean storm maps show the still water levels under the influence of ocean storms such as the 2007 east coast low or the 1974 storms.

The GCC maps do not show the impacts of coastal erosion as they are simply based on the still water levels which are matched to contours on the land. The rule of thumb is that for every 1m of sea level rise that occurs on a sandy beach, the beach will move back by 50m to 100m. This means that as modelling of wave action and storm erosion is carried out, more and more properties will need to be added to the list of those at risk. There are already 9000 that have had their S149 Certificates encoded, there will be lots more in the future.

The NSW State Government has already distanced itself from providing any assistance to the landowners, putting all the responsibility for the impacts of sea level rise onto them. Also, it was explained that all Australian insurance companies have the standard exclusion that flooding by salt water is not included in the cover – fresh water may be but salt water not. This was a surprise to many of those present.

The final part of the talk covered what we can do to reduce energy use in the home. Heating/cooling efficiency is the main issue with draft exclusion having a big influence on the comfort of a home. Following this is a range of measures such as solar water heating, reducing or eliminating use of the dryer, dumping the old second fridge (making sure to capture the refridgerant), installing LED lights (that use a tenth of the energy of old globes and last for 20 years or more) and eliminating stand-by energy (TVs, computers, microwave ovens, etc).

Comments included: “Government leadership is letting us down — with too little action to replace our power stations”; “How is government going to help these landowners?”; “Why arn’t we building new power stations so we can shut the coal ones down?”; “We all have a responsibility to help these people (landowners) and the government has to bear this”; “Many are buying property and don’t realise it may be at risk”.

The meeting finished with a call for Government to make more effort to respond to this challenge. Climate change is indeed a very big issue and should be at the top of the list of priorities for any government.

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