A public Forum was held at Kariong on 28th April 2012 organized by Climate Future. It was well attended and lots of discussion was heard during the afternoon. Sue Martin was the first of two speakers and she presented Al Gore’s “Climate Reality Project”. She explained how green house gases are increasing in the atmosphere due to our burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. These gases are holding back heat that has previously been able to escape to space with the result that our planet is heating up. This heat imbalance causes warming of our atmosphere and the ocean.
The result is a rising sea, increases in hot extremes, increasingly intense storms (including heavier rain events) changing weather patterns, more droughts in some regions of the globe, acidification of the oceans, extinction of species and more.
A representative of Climate Future then gave a talk outlining local impacts relevant for the Central Coast. This included interpretation of the sea level rise maps available on the Gosford City Council web site. The appropriate page can be accessed here: http://www.gosford.nsw.gov.au/gis/slr/sea-level-mapping
It was emphasized that there is a need for on-going education of the public so that people can be properly informed and can make good decisions. The anti-science agenda being run by fossil fuel interests has made the process of coming to terms with the challenge of climate change very difficult. This is particularly noticable in Australia, USA and Canada.
Many people asked questions during the presentations regarding the sea level rise mapping. A number of maps were presented that showed the 1% floods and the king tides as they would be affected by sea level rise. Some locations around Brisbane Water were discussed as well as some areas outside the Gosford area.
Gosford City Council has commissioned a report that will explore some of the options available to adapt to rising sea levels and protect properties in the Brisbane Water area. This could include building sea walls or levee banks along the foreshore, raising roads and other Council services (e.g. sewer pumping stations) or building of a surge barrier (a barrage) at the opening of the Brisbane Water.
All these possible alternatives involve considerable costs for construction as well as maintenance and operational costs. The barrage could cost of the order of $150 million. This money cannot be provided by the Gosford community. Could such funding be obtained when many other coastal regions around Australia will be asking for the same assistance?
The discussion closed with emphasis on the fact that there are solutions that we know will work. The Beyond Zero Emissions project was outlined as one solution. This proposes the replacement of all electricity production within a 10 year period with renewable energy – a combination of wind and solar. The project is based on currently available technology that could be built tomorrow. It sets out the timeframe, cost, industrial production, labour and program for achieving the replacement of all our coal powered electricity and more. The project simply proves that it is possible to get Australia off carbon addiction. There is still hope we can do it.