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The Science of sea levels
letter published in The Australian, 9 November 2009

You report (“Science is in on sea-level rise: 1.7mm”, 7/11) that Kevin Rudd has warned that 700,000 homes are at risk from sea level rises, and that the NSW Government is banning possible developments  of coastal sites, indicates that actual increases in Australia have been much less than the warning predictions being used. This opens the possibility of legal challenges by property developers.

Such challenges would be reinforced by changes in global sea levels. Thus, the increase of 7 cms in the global average between 1961 and 2003 shown in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would, if continued, produce  a rise of only about 21 cms over the next 100 years, well within the capacity  of humans to cope with coastal property development. Indeed, satellite measurements  (more accurate than tidal gauges) showing  a fall over the past 3 years suggest that the IPCC’s prediction of a rise to 2100 of 18-59 cms is considerably overstating the upper end possibility. In short, actual rises and predictions based on them provide no basis for restriction of coastal development. A recent assessment by the Dutch meteorological authority, probably the most authoritative on sea levels , confirmed the absence of concern.

The alarmist attitude regarding sea levels adopted by the Rudd government is also reflected in its unwarranted assessments of other risks from the possible reversal of recent falls in temperatures.

These unjustifiable assessments demonstrate the need for an independent inquiry into the science before any action is taken to start reducing CO 2 emissions.

Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic

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