Do you want to bet on whether sea level is rising?


Inundation in Newport Beach
Inundation in Newport Beach

The models we use to predict future climate are impressive, but not perfect, and so there are uncertainties in our knowledge of what will happen to Earth’s climate. In this sense uncertainty around Climate Change is no different from uncertainty around the consequences of any other activity we undertake. And yet need to make decisions now in the face of this uncertainty. And I was struck by this reality as I read this story in the LA Times on the decision by Newport Beach council to undertake works to mitigate the effects of any possible sea level rise.

Many people in this wealthy conservative enclave think the whole Climate Change issue is nothing more than nonsense. But nonetheless, if sea levels are rising then they will still get wet whether they believe sea levels are rising or not! It comes down to the simple question of whether people are prepared to bet with their homes that sea levels are not rising. With houses costing millions of dollars each, the answer appears to be ‘No’. The article ends with a quote from Newport Beach Councilwoman Nancy Gardner:

“We aren’t going to retreat — we’ve got so much invested in real estate, but the sooner we can start to think long-term, the more creative we can be in our solutions.” [My italics]

I like the way she puts this – and I wish that others could grasp the simplicity of her approach:

The sooner we can start to think long-term, the more creative we can be in our solutions.

I’ll say ‘Amen’ to that.

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