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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  • Surely by that logic – we will be the climate refugees – why would anyone want to come here if we are living in beachfront properties halfway up the southern alps

  • Graeme

    Hasn’t the sea been rising steadily over the centuries since the days when it was possible to walk from France to England without getting your feet wet .

    • Left Right Out

      And don’t forget you could walk from Russia to Alaska as well…… all that global warming from fossil fuels back then made the ice bridge disappear

    • johcar

      Has the sea been rising, or the land sinking? Same net effect, but the latter we have absolutely no control over. Not that I agree we have any control over the level of the sea….

  • Dog Breath

    That’s the batch with the sound of the sea lapping at the door with Taupo full of Kingfish rather than trout.

  • Tiger

    The discussion Professor, should rather be about how New Zealand is going to adapt to this phenomenon rather than (dare I say) raging against the tide?

    • Seriously?

      That was the point the PCE was making. Here is a link to her maps that show the effect of 50, 100, and 150 cm raises.

      None of it is the end of the world, but she quite validly says they we need to start thinking about how we are going to cope with that. For instance, should we be granting residential subdivision consents within the 50cm area?

      • SteveWrathall

        Yes, because at the current rate of sea-level rise of ~3 mm/year, and no evidence this is increasing, it would take over 150 years to rise 50 cm. To (further) restrict building will further exacerbate housing unaffordability

  • Misfit

    good reason to talk the Mrs into letting me get that 50 foot launch ..

  • Dave of the West Bank

    I saw this on the News this morning, and was not impressed when the narrator said, “…the prestigious Royal Society of New Zealand…”. They should refer to it as, “the once prestigious Royal Society of New Zealand…” when they allow drivel such as Renwick is spouting in their name.

    Argumentum ad verecundiam.

    I saw the comment below this morning at Bishop Hill, and I wish that I’d thought of it, as it reflects my point of view quite accurately:

    “The crescendo of alarmist screams has peaked and passed, dopplering its train whistle, but the echoes of its frightful passage still echo through the valley of the shadow of fear.”

    Spot on!

  • Orca

    “If we keep going we have the last few years, we could be seeing 4 or 5 degC of global warming this century”

    No, actually, if we keep going as we have for the last 18 years, there will still be no global warming for the rest of this century.

  • shykiwibloke

    The news on the radio mentioned this as part of a ‘we must stop irrigation’ and then went to Greenpeace spokesperson for an explanation. If the Royal Society want to have Greenpeace as their front person then they are the ones going under -not us.

  • localnews

    I had been trying to work out where all the extra water was coming from that was causing sea levels to rise, now I know. The wind is causing it to pile up on our shores, thank heavens for professor Renwick straightening out those of us who didn’t think you could pile up water!

  • Orca

    I’ve been waiting for decades for people who actually believe in this, as they insist that they do, to start fleeing all of their coastal properties, and then I can buy some of them, cheap. Decades later, I’m still waiting, and the coastal property prices are still increasing faster than inland properties. I’m so confused, it’s almost like they don’t actually believe what they are saying?

  • cows4me

    What a load of horse poo. These dropkicks had us floating away about a decade ago, nothing. Once again, it’s a BLOODY CON. Why, it keeps inordinate amount of useless bludgers, blood suckers, tossers and leeches in employment. It allows further controls on ordinary citizens by all encompassing environmental law and it provides revenue streams for corrupt politicians. It’s socialism wanting to become totalitarianism, it’s evil and we should have nothing to do with it.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    A bad day at the keyboard for The Royal Society on New Zealand. Maybe a dodgy batch of tofu or envy from the aroma of frying bacon.
    It is staggering to imagine that there are still too many people who think any reduction of CO2 in NZ will even be noticed on the world platform. There still remains the question of the true evaluation of levels in NZ. Currently all the baloney is over assumed or contrived levels to suit the warmest narrative.

  • Second time around

    Megan Woods, Labour MP, says the government is sitting on its hands and on such an important issue should work across parties for a solution. That’s Labour’s solution, while the Greens want to ban mineral and oil exploration. However she is right, the government is only a bit player in a global problem.

    • BR

      What problem?


      • Second time around

        In NZ places that were once secure near the ocean are no longer secure. Other parts of the world experience similar changes. Regardless of the cause, people who live in coastal areas sense that their properties could be under threat from the sea.

        • Muffin

          That is complete rubbish!

          • Terence Hodgson

            I have to disagree with you Muffin. The damage from increasing storm surges (regardless of the cause) really does imperil possibly millions. Even a surge rushing through Bangladesh or even up the Mekong delta would be enough to make these waterways horribly saline; and although we do have saline-resistant rice seed available, its yield is really only less than half of the present ‘green revolution’ strain.
            Storm surges also have the knack of traveling underground and buggering up underground fresh water: Florida is noticing this.
            And clean-ups from storm surges and floods caused by heavier rain fall than usual can be horribly expensive– look at the recent North England (Cumbria) floods.

          • BR

            So what? Storms are a normal part of the weather. None of that is going to change regardless of how much more tax governments help themselves to, or how many individual freedoms are compromised.


        • BR

          What places that were once secure are no longer secure? This all sounds like scaremongering from the political left. If people who live by the sea “sense” anything it’s because they’ve become victims of the mainstream media with all their lies and propaganda.


  • sheppy

    If Sea Level rise is such a threat why has Obama just bought a beach front property in Hawaii? Does sea level rise only effect non believers in the global warming / cooling / climate change myth? Will the sea level rise, go around his property because he’s tried to convince the world its real?
    Keep refilling the trough everyone and they’ll keep increasing taxes to save us from the bad things!

  • Huia

    Obviously I know nothing.
    I thought it was just weather cycles on this fair Earth of ours, you know the ones that have been going on for millennia. When all the time it was global warming cause by cows passing gas.

    • Tiger

      Good point, not only cows, the dinosaurs ruled this earth for 600 million years, whilst all the time munching on greenery (most of them) and no doubt farting like volcanos – ah yes, those things too. Maybe they all disappeared by being drowned?

  • HunuaRanger

    The problem with these climate change predictions/sea level rise amounts is that every so called scientist has a different opinion of what the results will be when the earths average temperature reaches a certain level, but to put it into perspective here’s a short explanation from what I’ve found so far.
    1. The last time the earths temperature was as warm as it is now was approximately 125,000 years ago during the last interglacial period.
    2. During this time period the sea level was actually 4-6 meters HIGHER than it is now, most likely due to the melting Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps.
    3. Although a similar sea level rise (4 meters or so) could happen in the future it could take 200 to 1000 years to get to those levels (if it even does), and this is the main reason all the pseudo scientific troughers are getting so many grants “researching” this phenomena.
    So we’ve been here before (125,000 years ago) and the sea level was higher and we survived it, although If I owned any sea front real estate I’d probably be looking at selling it rather soon.

  • SJ00

    These guys have got it made, they can say whatever they like (the numbers above are surely made up?), and say it will happen in x years time. Nobody will in x years time come back and say to these guys ‘but you said blah blah blah and it didn’t happen’. And if someone did, they just say ‘oh looks like our models were wrong, sorry.’ There is no accountability to them saying these comments with minimal to no hard proof. I mean what rubbish is 10% ‘pooling’ of water around NZ? Its not how water works. Yet alone 10m of extra water around the globe. Where on earth (haha) is that coming from? Good grief.

    • Dumrse

      Some of that is going to pour down the Tukituki River unless they build a dodgy damn dam to hold it back. They may be our saviours.

  • Bazza63

    I hope the scientists are correct re CO2 emissions as we are going to need as much as possible. According to NOAA the planet has cooled by an average of 5.6 degrees Fahrenheit since 1997. NOAA said 2015’s temperature was 58.62 degrees Fahrenheit (14.79 degrees Celsius), passing 2014 by a record margin of 0.29 degrees.” & was the hottest on record.
    But NOAA in the link below says “The global average temperature of 62.45 degrees Fahrenheit (16.92 degrees Celsius) for 1997 was the warmest year on record surpassing the previous record set in 1995 by 0.15 degrees Fahrenheit.”

  • Warren

    Please explain to me. If the sea levels are going to rise 1m, where the hell is all that extra water going to come from. Please don,t say the melting ice caps. 1m to the whole planet would be trillions and trillions and trillions (shall I keep going) litres of water. Even 30cm to the whole planet is BS.

  • Hakaru

    I notice that the esteemed scientists have left an out for themselves in case the sea levels do not rise or even drop. They mentioned that the tectonic plates might also adjust to the amount of water. It might be that New Zealand might actually rise up and we will not need to worry about sea levels rising. Maybe Australia will sink as it is on a different plate to us and Sydney will be inundated with the sea.

    • In other words, we are facing a -1 m to +10 m sea level rise.

      • johcar

        With a 10 metre margin of error…

  • Diehard

    What ever.

    Climate refugees, economic refugees, muslim refugees. The bottom line is New Zealand is the place to be and my property value (which is way above any fictional sea level prediction) will continue to rise faster than the water. Good times!!

  • geoff

    Presumably the Royal Society means these climate refugees are coming from the South Pacific Islands.Yet they conveniently fail to mention that in many of these islands the latest research indicates that far from being inundated with sea level rise the coral reefs are actually growing and keeping pace with any sea level rise.

  • EliteDangerous

    “How does a scientist determine that people will come here because of climate? ”

    John Key has made New Zealand great again, so they probably will want to come here.

  • Larry

    If what all the doomsayers is true, we shouldnt be spending all our money on how to stop climate change. We should be working out how to take advantage of it.

    • InnerCityDweller

      Indeed we should. This makes for interesting watching

    • Terence Hodgson

      Like, say, the Dutch with their advanced dyking systems (rushed to New Orleans), of the Israelis with their superb desalination industry (rushed to several Middle East countries), or the Russians with their certainty of growing crops for the world to buy near the arctic circle, of the USA with their Pentagon working out how to amass an arsenal against too many people in the one lifeboat scenario.

  • Mikev

    Yeah right!

  • Legallysane

    The comment about the way the wind blows and where the water ends up sounds like a crock to me. Is there any scientific data to support this statement or did he just dream it up? What’s his (relevant) scientific background, and more importantly, his motivation?