Australia’s NSW Government Abandons IPCC-Based Sea-Level Policy

  • Date: 13/11/15
  • Bishop Hill

The Australian is reporting that the New South Wales government has suddenly come over all sensible on the subject of sea-level rise.

The NSW government will today unveil sweeping changes to how the state’s coastline is managed, building on its insistence that local councils look at the science and evidence of individual beaches rather than blindly adopting UN predictions of climate change…The initiatives mark the second phase of the Coalition government’s demolition of the previous Labor government’s policy, which among other things directed local councils on the coast to enforce the climate change and sea level rise predictions of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This is of course precisely the approach recommended by Carter and de Lange in their GWPF report on the subject. Bob sends these thoughts:

This new NSW coastal policy (text pasted below) is a big, very big, announcement. Provided the State Government can make it stick (and Green activist planning to attack and undermine the policy will already have begun), this is a significant development for NSW/Australian politics and an international precedent to boot. So far as I am aware, this is the first time that a serving Western cabinet minister has ever publically rejected the advice of the IPCC in such an abrupt fashion as this.

The new and sensible policy of treating the coastal zone as a geomorphically active one and in insisting on the application of empirical data at specific locations (rather than generalized computer model projections) for planning and management purposes, the NSW government is following almost to the letter the advice contained in the two following reports:

http://www.thegwpf.org/new-report-urges-cost-effective-adaptation-to-sea-level-change/

https://www.heartland.org/policy-documents/commentary-and-analysis-whitehead-associates-2014-nsw-sea-level-report

It seems that the government is now receiving advice (as it seems to be) from one or more of their own scientists who have their feet firmly on the empirical ground and prefer to use an abacus/slide rule (remember them?) rather than a computer for calculations.

In the Australian context, this is also a major defeat for the CSIRO, whose consistently alarmist advice on sea-level change has entirely depended upon semi-empirical, homogenized-data-input computer projections that have now been flatly rejected.

Strong thanks are due to Batemans Bay residents Neville Hughes, Pat Aiken and other coastal NSW resident groups for their unwearying opposition to, and protests against, the former policy. I actually didn’t think that I would live to see the day that a government would make such an announcement. And at such a critical time given the impending Paris talks. 

As this sea-level example shows, ultimately empiricism (and adaptation rather than “stop global warming”) is going to win through.

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