125,600 homes and other buildings just became unsaleable

There is a whole world of pain about to descend on coastal communities.  Insurance will not be available and therefore banks will not lend on mortgages and therefore no one will buy.

Insurers were told today that the first metre of sea level rise is where much of the cost and pain will hit, reports Eloise Gibson.

Local authorities all around the coast are busily drawing scary lines on their district maps and tagging LIMs as we speak.  These lines will restrict building permits being issued and reduce the saleability of properties from North Cape to Bluff. Quote.

At the Insurance Council conference at Sky City, insurers were given updated – albeit draft – estimates that say $38 billion of New Zealand’s residential and commercial buildings may be at risk of flooding if sea levels rise one metre. End quote.

“Albeit draft”, albeit misleading and probably, albeit false. Quote.

While the final report won’t be in until next year, scientists have been improving their cost estimates by factoring in detailed satellite elevation data from more regions and adding comprehensive rebuilding costs to get a picture of possible exposure to flooding.

The $38 billion represents 125,600 homes and other buildings that could be in the flood zone if seas rise from today’s levels to up to 1m higher.

The figures were presented by NIWA sea level expert Rob Bell based on work he and his collaborators are doing to improve on their previous estimates for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. End quote.

Since NIWA have clearly nailed their colours to the IPCC nonsense, I would not trust anything they told me. Quote.

An earlier report for the Commissioner used land elevation as a proxy for flood risk and estimated that about 9000 homes were vulnerable from seas just 0.5m higher than today. The previous estimated value of buildings at risk from seas up to 1.5m higher was $19 billion, but that was based on incomplete information.

Since then, scientists from NIWA, GNS and elsewhere have been refining the numbers, funded by the Deep South National Science Challenge.

Bell told the insurance conference that the newer estimates had been through one round of peer-review but were still in draft form. He told Newsroom a more detailed report breaking the risk down into regions and 10cm increments of sea level rise would be out in early 2019. End quote.

Ah, climate scientists have peer reviewed it.  Must be true.  My apologies for doubting. Quote.

He and his collaborators have incorporated natural hazard risk modelling from GNS, more extensive LiDAR satellite imaging showing how high land is above sea level (barring a few parts of the coastline where the data isn’t yet available, such as the West Coast and Marlborough) and aerial maps showing the number of houses and commercial buildings in the at-risk area, to produce a more comprehensive picture of the potential cost of climate change on the coast.

They estimated the size of the risk zone using what insurers and councils call the 1 percent AEP flood risk, which indicates that a building currently has a one-in-a-hundred-year likelihood of flooding based on what’s happened during the past few decades. However, the frequency of floods will increase on the coast as sea levels rise. The study will model how the potentially at-risk area increases after 10cm, 20cm, 30cm and so on of sea level rise up to 3m. End quote.

One can project out the 1.6 mm average sea level rise per year and gauge what may happpen, but then they drop in, without evidence, the ‘fact’ that there will be a higher frequency of flooding.  Based on what?  Oh, a computer model.   Really?  You mean the models that have been spectacularly incorrect to date?   Quote.

Re-construction costs for homes and commercial buildings were estimated using details like roof style and cladding and the number of storeys each building has. The models couldn’t be certain that a particular building would flood in a particular storm or tide because they don’t have all the local details and didn’t take account of the protective effects of structures like roads, tide gates and stop banks, which might reduce flooding. For that level of detail, regional councils will need to produce their own reports, as regions such as Hawkes Bay have done already. […] End quote.

Hey, we licked our finger, held it up and pontificated. Quote.

Between today’s sea levels and 1m of sea level rise, the estimated total of $38 billion of commercial and residential buildings in the risk zone represented 125,600 buildings.

Another $26 billion worth of buildings (a further 70,490) would be in the risk zone if seas rose between 1-2 m.

And a further $20 billion worth would be at risk if seas reached 2-3m higher, representing another 65,530 buildings, Bell’s slides showed. […]

Earlier in the day Robert Muir-Woods, the chief research officer of science and technology at catastrophe-risk-modelling company RMS and a former IPCC lead author on insurance and climate risk, told the conference that past policies had artificially concentrated buildings in the area just above today’s risky zones.

For example, to get insurance, people often needed to build above the line of a 100-year average probability of flooding, or 1 percent AEP. “So everybody builds a few centimetres above that line and when a big flood hits everybody gets hit at once because of this concentration of risk.”

Muir-Woods said container ports, hotels, marinas, airports and other assets also tended to cluster just above sea level. Globally, he estimated $2 trillion dollars’ worth of assets were concentrated about 1m above sea level. “If you assume the climate system is stable…then the consequences of a small increase in rainfall intensity can dramatically increase the loss, as we saw with Hurricane Harvey,” he said. […] End quote.

Ports and marinas are clustered at sea level, who knew? Quote.

He reiterated the advice in the Ministry for the Environment guidance to councils against trying to plan by “picking a number” for sea level rise.

Although 20cm to 30cm is virtually certain over the next two decades, after that much depends on whether the Paris agreement succeeds.

Places such as south Napier were already at the point of having to choose what to do, while others had more time. If the globe kept under 1.5C of warming, median sea level may reach about 1m by 2300, while continued high emissions would see people having to deal with 5-10m by 2300.

The result would be uncertainty for a long time yet, because of the long lag time between emissions and sea levels rising, said Bell. “We have to live with that uncertainty. So we monitor and we move when we have to.” End quote.

With sufficient financial resources, an insurance company created specifically to offer insurance to those rejected by the big boys on the grounds of sea level rise would be a winner.  1 m of sea level rise is not going to happen in our lifetimes, or our children’s.

It is a crazy concept, I know, but it seems that the earth has all manner of feedback and control mechanisms that are not, or poorly, understood and the climate is actually remarkable constant over time.  See one found just recently. See a fantastic article here.

Of course there are weather events which wreak havoc on communities; always have been, always will be.

Naturally, building on a flood plain is never a bright idea, nor is building on land that could liquefy.

If we took all the doom and gloom stories seriously we would abandon New Zealand completely: Auckland built on volcanoes; Wellington on a fault line; Rotorua built on a geothermal field;   thousands of us potentially wiped out in the ‘big one”, a tsunami caused by a quake in the local subduction zone and so on.


Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

WH is a pale, stale, male who does not believe all the doom and gloom climate nonsense so enjoys generating CO2 that the plants need to grow by driving his MG.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

Listen to this post:
Voiced by Amazon Polly
62%