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Byron Shire
December 2, 2023

West Byron will go underwater

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Move Beyond Coal turning up heat on government

Move Beyond Coal says it will be staging protests at Labor MP offices around the country over the next week to 'turn up the heat' on the government to stop approving climate-wrecking coal and gas projects.

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In the 20 years I have lived in Byron Shire, the sea level has risen around six centimetres, about the length of an egg, and this rate of rise is conservatively expected to double over the coming decades. Scientists predict a rise of around 60 centimetres by the end of this century. This means Byron’s surrounding melaleuca wetlands, including the proposed West Byron development, will become tidal mangrove swamps with king tides regularly inundating Byron CBD.

But there is an exponential component to climate change. The poles are heating much faster than the tropics, thawing permafrost and unlocking vast amounts of frozen methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. The North Pole and Greenland icecaps are melting before our eyes, and a growing body of scientists believe sea level by the end of this century may rise as much as two metres.

This means Ewingsdale will become the new foreshore, Cape Byron will be an island, Byron CBD, Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby will all be inundated by the sea, and the entire Brunswick Valley will be a saltwater estuary. There are children alive today who may be around to see this happen. And it won’t end there, with as much as a 20-metre rise over the coming millennia.

We can forever argue the pros and cons of the proposed West Byron development, but like a rising tide, global warming won’t listen. People buying into the estate might reconsider when they realise they can’t even bequeath their properties to their grandchildren.

The state of Victoria has a climate change development plan (CCCAC) which restricts development on regions predicted to be inundated by the rising sea level (see http://bit.ly/coastalpdf). Byron, and the whole world, needs such a plan. These aren’t some whacko doomsday predictions. This is current science, which always tends to err on the conservative side.

Michael Balson, Upper Wilsons Creek


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  1. planning now for such scenarios could leave buffer areas primed to expand their ecological communities and be a marine wildlife salvation zone for the subtropic region. neighbouring catchments are so heavily developed and polluted. may seem quixotic but this area becomes even more precious for what it is not…more developed.

  2. Nah! We’ll be right Mate. We’ll just start saving the dirt and the bull manure emanating from the current Federal and State Governments. There’l be tonnes and tonnes of Federal compost even though Foney Wabbitt has such a short time left (hopefully) in office. We can pile it up all over the areas you mention, lift the land height above the encroaching sea and grow food. That’s the only way we’ll get anything of value from the current LNP and Labo(U)r imbroglio.

  3. This intriguing letter and others like it always have me scrambling for my trusty tomes located in a cardboard box labeled “g” for geology. Astonishing as it may seem eastern Australia is 2 metres higher than 4000 years ago ( approx 3 dozen eggs.) and without detailed knowledge of local land rises and falls, subsidence, erosion and sedimentation, global sea level predictions for coastal planning, or just plain scare mongering are only founded on speculation.
    As for the poles, Antarctic Ice levels have reached a new record increasing more than 110,000sq kms a day in April 2014 (1257 Manhattans a day – how many eggs is that?). How’s that for melting before your eyes.
    Another interesting piece of information missing from your letter was that the fact that atmospheric CO2 has risen 13% since the 1990s and yet temperatures haven’t risen for 15-17 years and there is a growing body of scientists marking their calendars claiming these are the days when the IPCC climate models are declared dead.

  4. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been caught lying and fudging data over and over. Your fears are unfounded!
    AGW is a huge scam designed to implement large scale social engineering. Now that’s something to concern yourself with.


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