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Byron Shire
September 25, 2021

Rock walls won’t stop rising sea levels

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Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay

I wish to respond to Lester Brien’s letter (Echonetdaily, November 20) in defence of Byron Shire Cr Ibrahim’s rock walls,

There is no doubt the seas are rising at an accelerating rate because they are warming and expanding, and because ice masses on land are melting. Worldwide sea level has been measured to rise by an average 19cm from 1901 to 2010, and are likely to rise by something like a metre this century.

The warming East Australia Current means our seas will rise quicker.

I see the eroding coastlines wherever I go and I have seen the retreating glaciers. I have no doubt that rising seas have increased erosion at Belongil.

I find Lester Brien’s labelling of outcries from sinking Pacific Islands as ‘a political stunt’ outrageous. Their gardens, houses and fresh-water aquifers are being inundated by rising seas, and they have nowhere to retreat to. It has nothing to do with seashells being found in the Andes.

Lester Brien notes that during Cyclone Wanda in 1974 sea levels were elevated to something like two metres above mean high tide. He is right that cyclonic storm surges are when the impacts are greatest.  Currently it is not known how global warming will affect the frequency of cyclones here, but we do know that they will get bigger which means higher storm surges and bigger floods on top of higher tides.

Lester also needs to be aware that on sandy coastlines, such as Belongil, the coast tends to recede over one metre for every one-centimetre rise in sea levels. At Belongil the existing rubble and walls are stopping the public beach retreating, so while the beach comes and goes, it is being lost.

Beaches also absorb much of a wave’s energy, when a wave hits a rock wall that energy is reflected back and scours the beach out. That energy also increases erosion at the end of the wall.

There is no doubt that the Belongil defences are causing the loss of a public asset, it is plain for all to see.

Lester is also wrong about my political affiliations.



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