All doom and gloom from the Royal Society: climate refugees AND 1m sea level rise

Climate refugees will pour into New Zealand whether we like it or not if global warming continues unabated, one expert is warning.

A new report by the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) has outlined what New Zealand stands to lose from climate change, which could see the oceans rise by a metre this century if we don’t stop emitting huge amounts of carbon and methane.

“Even if we were able to turn them all off globally tomorrow, we would still get at least another 30cm of sea level rise and other changes in the climate,” Prof James Renwick, who chaired the expert panel which produced the report.

“If we keep going we have the last few years, we could be seeing 4 or 5 degC of global warming this century, well over a metre of sea level rise — with a commitment to 10m or more over the next few hundred years. So take your pick.”

So we’re going to go under water and we’re going to have lots of climate refugees?   How does a scientist determine that people will come here because of climate?  What’s the data?  

The sea level in New Zealand is predicted to rise by 10 percent more than most other places.

“There are gravitational effects, the way the winds blow over the ocean affects where the water piles up and where it’s a bit lower,” says Prof Renwick.

“As the weight of water changes on the surface of the Earth, tectonic plates adjust, and so on. It’s all a very dynamic situation and what it adds up to for New Zealand and the western Pacific, we’re expecting on the order of 10 percent more sea level rise in the west than we’d see around the rest of the globe.”

Sea levels rose in New Zealand about 17cm through the 20th century. While 30cm over the next eight decades doesn’t sound like much, Prof Renwick says it makes adverse events much more likely.

The really fun thing is that 1) if this is all true, and 2) we stop emissions tomorrow, then 3) the rest of the world will still put us under water.

The momentum of warming so far already has us committed to 30cm, and if we don’t change our evil ways, as a globe, we’re looking at 10 meters.  Or more.  (It’s out of our hands, really)

I’m going to put my next batch on Tongariro.  Just to be safe.


– Dan Satherley, Newshub

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.