Three eminent Australian scientists have challenged the New South Wales Government’s alarmist forecast that the sea level was certain to rise by 900 millimetres, or three feet, by the year 2100.
Billions of dollars have been wiped off the value of NSW coastal properties as a result of a state government regulation which has obliged local councils to base their building permits on this predicted rise.
In response, Mr Jeff McCloy, a prominent property developer from Belmont on New South Wales’ central coast, convened a local residents’ meeting as part of his campaign to challenge the Lake Macquarie City Council’s enforcement of the NSW Government’s building code.
Four hundred residents of Belmont, a small town on a sandy peninsula between Lake Macquarie and the Pacific Ocean, attended, at only four days’ notice, a free information evening on climate change on January 31.
The meeting was addressed by University of Adelaide geologist Professor Ian Plimer, James Cook University geologist Professor Bob Carter, and Perth-based climate and energy scientist Mr David Archibald.
About the meeting Mr Archibald observed: “Life imitates art. It was like the plot of The Seven Samurai, or any number of westerns. Evil environmentalists take over a town, oppressing the townspeople with their harsh planning regulations.
“The townspeople bring in three top scientists to battle the evil environmentalists. Good prevails over evil, and the town goes back to being a happy, sleepy coastal village.”
Last year, Lake Macquarie City Council accepted the NSW Government’s climate change forecasts, which obliged them to enforce strict restrictions on development.
Local property developer Mr McCloy has threatened to mount a class action against the city council for the resulting loss of value on properties in the area.
“I don’t believe the community fully understands the impacts of this policy. The ramifications are enormous,” Mr McCloy told the Newcastle Herald (January 28, 2012).
“Some people will be prevented from building extensions or face such a cost impost it will not be viable, while others will be prevented from building anything at all.”
Professor Carter told the Belmont residents’ meeting that distinguished scientists were ‘‘in this game of hyping up’’ climate change and sea-level rise. He dismissed as “sheer fantasy” models that scientists were using to predict rising sea levels, and criticised Lake Macquarie Council’s handling of the matter.
With the aid of charts and statistics, Mr Archibald discussed the science of predicting sea-level variations.
He asserted that there was a clear correlation between solar activity and rises in sea levels.
He observed: “What is very interesting is that during four solar minima over the 20th century, sea level fell during those minima. That means that during prolonged low solar activity, sea level can be expected to continue falling.
“[During the period of] 1948 to 1987, the relationship between solar activity and sea level is found to be 0.045 millimetres per unit of sunspot number. The threshold between rising and falling sea level is a sunspot amplitude of 40. Below 40, sea level falls. Above that, it rises….
“Sea level has a few more millimetres of rise to the maximum of Solar Cycle 24 in 2013 and then will fall 40 millimetres to 2040 taking us back to levels of the early 1990s.”
On the subject of Lake Macquarie, Mr Archibald said, “The nearest high-quality sea-level data is from Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour.”
Statistical records from 1915 to 2009 revealed that “the rise over the 20th century has been slight, so slight that it can be compared to a human hair, which on average is 0.1 mm thick. The rise has been an average of five human hair-widths per annum, with most of that over 60 years ago.”
He compared this minuscule rise with the NSW Government and Lake Macquarie Council’s alarmist projections for the 21st century.
He concluded: “I have called sea-level rise the second last refuge of the global warming scoundrel, with ocean acidification being the last refuge.
“It no longer provides any refuge now that the relationship with solar activity has been quantified.”
Lake Macquarie mayor Mr Greg Piper has defended his council’s actions, arguing that its climate-change policy was no different from that being used by the Commonwealth and state governments.
He attacked developer Mr Jeff McCloy as being “unashamedly a climate change sceptic” who “won’t be swayed”.
“I think it’s good that a minority view is heard, but I’ve listened to Ian Plimer on television and radio and I’ve read his book, which frankly I wouldn’t pay for.”
He said that the free information evening organised by Mr McCloy was ‘‘not a debate, but information provided by one side of the debate’’.
A week after the Belmont meeting, Mr David Archibald wrote: “I am told that two days after the public lecture, the NSW Government has reversed its position on sea level and property development.”
John Ballantyne is editor of News Weekly.
David Archibald, “Quantifying sea-level fall”, Watts Up With That? (WUWT), February 3, 2012.
Neil Goffet, “Debate rises on sea levels as McCloy brings in experts”, The Herald (Newcastle, New South Wales), January 28, 2012.
Damon Cronshaw, “Sceptics rebut sea level rise policy”, The Herald (Newcastle, New South Wales), February 1, 2012.