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Have you ever wondered why we have been told that sea levels are rising for so many years and yet, here on the Gold Coast there is no evidence of this? (Or at least none I can see)

History shows that sea levels have changed over a range of more than 120 meters in the last 140,000 years.  Wow! That’s a lot.  After the last ice age, sea levels stabilised and have been fairly stable over the last few thousand years.

This began to change in the 19th century and accelerated in the 20th century with satellites measuring a rise of about 3mm/year since the early 90’s.

According to the CSIRO, “Sea-level rise is a response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the consequent changes in the global climate.”

So that doesn’t answer the question of why can’t we see it happening here on the Gold Coast?  Well, apparently, the ocean is not flat.  The sea surface is changing at different rates across the globe.

NASA reports, “Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and is accelerating slightly every year.”

The Australian Academy of Science published a report about the science of climate change to address the confusion created by contradictory information in the public arena.  They agree that much is unknown. “Even if a global change were broadly known, its regional expression would depend on detailed changes in wind patterns, ocean currents, plants, and soils.

The climate system can throw up surprises: abrupt climate transitions have occurred in Earth’s history, the timing and likelihood of which cannot generally be foreseen with confidence.”

They also note: “It is known that human activities since the industrial revolution have sharply increased greenhouse gas concentrations; these gases have a warming effect; warming has been observed; the calculated warming is comparable to the observed warming; and continued reliance on fossil fuels would lead to greater impacts in the future than if this were curtailed. This understanding represents the work of thousands of experts over more than a century, and is extremely unlikely to be altered by further discoveries.”

The most important point I think they make is about the fact that the uncertainty of the effects of climate change works both ways, the impacts may be a lot less or a lot more than the predictions, no one truly knows.

Many people make decisions about how to balance the risk of an unknown future with little or partial knowledge. In this case, we need our Governments, industry leaders and big corporates to way up the science, way up the risk of inaction and put into place a plan to transition from current business as normal to a new paradigm which I believe will benefit the world either way.