The climate-change deniers should be proud of themselves as we pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates, raising air and sea-surface temperatures by around one degree, and sea levels by 21cm since Europeans colonised Australia.
With temperatures projected to rise by up to five degrees by 2070, the extreme weather events we have experienced in recent times will dramatically intensify. We can expect more humans to die because of heat stress and many others to be traumatised by the intensifying droughts and floods. Thousands of other species will be wiped off the planet this century by climate changes and ocean acidification.
While we may now have a carbon tax, we have counteracted its possible benefits with our dramatically escalating coal and gas exports and proposals to burn native forests for power. So the best we can hope for is to cope with the escalating impacts.
A classic example of poor adaptation is being played out at Kingscliff where more than $1 million has so far been spent replacing the eroding beach with sandbags and rock walls. These have just made the problem worse by accelerating erosion in front of them and at their ends.
Now Tweed Council wants NSW taxpayers to fork out $7 million to establish an artificial beach in front of their wall. This may last until the next major storm.
Rising sea levels will necessitate more and more sand and money to replace the beach with increasing frequency until it is no longer tenable. Sea levels are expected to rise by more than a metre this century, so it won’t take long.
My concern is that the Kingscliff scenario is being played out all along the coast. We need to be cleverer than throwing good money after bad. We need to adapt wherever possible, as we will need every cent we have to cope with intensifying natural disasters.
Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay