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Essex: Warning that climate change could bring repeat of 1953 floods

15:39 19 February 2013

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A PROFESSOR has warned that flooding similar to that of the 1953 disaster could happen again if climate change remains unchecked.

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University of Essex vice-chairman Jules Pretty said predicted sea level rises caused by increases to global temperatures mean current coastal defences will have to be “substantially improved” over the coming years.

Mr Pretty, who is also professor of environment and society at the university, said: “After 1953 there was an intense period of filling in of sea defences and then a sustained policy of making money available to protect different types of coastline.

“But, in the last few years, attention has turned to flooding inland because all this rain has caused rivers to burst. Inevitably, this has taken attention away from the threat posed by the sea.”

However, Mr Pretty said the worst-case scenarios from climate change predictions are “alarming”. He said that if there is a two-degree rise in global temperatures by 2050, then sea levels could rise by 1.5m.

If the temperature rises by four degrees by the end of the century, sea levels are predicted to rise by 3m.

Mr Pretty added: “These scenarios would put our coastline under a new threat and would mean defences would have to be substantially improved.

“The last time we had a big wave was in 2007 – it came within eight to ten inches of the sea wall at Canvey. It was bigger than the 1953 wave.

“We are likely to see more extreme weather events as time goes on. This is a problem for the whole of the country and not just the Anglian coast line. I don’t want to be alarmist but at the moment we have not got on top of reducing carbon emissions, which are causing climate change.”

But David Kemp, flood resilience team leader at the Environment Agency, said factoring in the predicted sea level rises caused by climate change has been “part of the agency’s thinking for years”.

He said: “There have been a lot of changes in the 60 years since 1953 and today we have some of the biggest computing power working on sea levels.

“We are predicting figures for the height of tides 36 hours out and have indications of what could happen five days out.

“We work on all time-scales. For me, tomorrow night is a long way off but we have shoreline management plans where a team is making recommendations on coastal defence building 70 to 100 years hence.”

Mr Kemp also refuted any claims that attention had been drawn away from the coast by recent flooding inland.

He added: “Hundreds of millions has been spent on coastal defences in East Anglia.

“We have not lost sight of the need to bolster sea defences. We also work with councils and coastguards on how we would respond to issues. For instance, Exercise Watermark in 2011 involved 10,000 people.”

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4 comments

  • If the floods of 1953 were to be repeated tomorrow, then how could that be attributed to carbon induced "climate change"? There was far less of this natural gas around 60 years ago. If it happened then it can happen again, with or without more carbon in the air. With the Climategate e-mails we discovered just how corrupt this "science" is. One only has to look at the tax raising implications and who is doling out the research grants as well as all the business interests involved. In other words, follow the money. I would prefer to take the advise of respected and properly qualified people on this subject such as Dr. Roy Spencer and Prof. Richard Lindzen, who state that man's influence on climate is insignificant, and, if anything, have lost out financially by not going along with all the dishonesty. The idea that carbon emmisions are causing climate change is ridiculous, as it is a fact that heating causes carbon release, not the other way around.The climate has warmed and cooled for thousands of years irrespective of the atmospheric CO2 levels.

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    Bryan Cassingham

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • Professor Pretty says that "I don't want to be alarmist...", yet that is exactly the tone of his assertions on sea level rises and climate change. We have seen how often in the recent past such claims from other learned sources do not bear close inspection. The computer climate models which predicted rising temperatures over the last decade, were wrong, as the global temperatures have remained stable, despite rising CO2. Claims of more 'extreme' weather turn out on inspection of the data to be non-existent. The actual measurements of sea level rise show less than 3mm a year, or 0.11m, about 4.5 inches by 2050, not the 1.5m 'alarmist' figure quoted. Prof. Pretty also does not mention that coastal erosion and the flooding threat from that, is the biggest problem facing the East Anglian coastline. The view from the Environment Agency is that we should put our efforts into responding to conditions which are provably a threat, rather than respond to purely hypothetical scenarios from incomplete computer climate models with a poor track record. I believe that the Environment Agency is correct on this, and we should look to adaptation as the main driver for funding on coastal defences whenever there is a real case for it.

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    Edward Bancroft

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • Professor Pretty is talking complete bunkum. The models on which Pretty is basing his calculations are known by the police to be totally defective. The data which was used to fine tune the models was known by the police in 2004 to have been deliberate tampered with to produce totally fanciful estimates of temperature rise and sea level rise. The sea-level figures were known by police in 2008 to have been erroneous because they were based on computer models deliberately constructed to give incorrect answers. The fraud was known to UEA staff by 2004 at the latest and was investigated by police by 2008 at the latest. The real figures show temperatures approximately static for about 15 years, and, arguably, going down currently at the rate of about two degrees per century. The severity of US droughts (Palmer Severity Index), US tornados, Australian climate and other measures of "extreme" weather have not changed. The whole global warming notion was conceived from the outset as a deliberate fraud by the US EPA and others fby which huge sums of money could be extracted from the general population if they could be led to believe it to be real.

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    Roy Everett

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

  • More "climate change"? It is hardly climate change if it is repetition of an event that occurred 60 years ago: more like Climate Non-change! And is this also going to be blamed on Global Warming, when there has been no evidence of any such warming for over 16 years?

    Report this comment

    Rolf

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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