Councils should prepare for global warming

A Lismore-based scientist has warned NSW coastal councils that the threat posed by global warming to coastal areas was much more alarming than earlier thought.

Dr Graham Jones, associate professor of geochemistry at Southern Cross University and a keynote speaker at the annual NSW Coastal Conference at Yamba last month, outlined the latest trends in the speed and extent of global warming impacts.

Ballina Shire councillors Alan Rich and Margaret Howes attended the conference , which was hosted by Clarence Valley Council.

Dr Jones, who works with International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists investigating chemical relationships, said that even though the trends were yet to be written in stone, there was no spare time to wait for them to do their damage.

Cr Rich, who tabled his report on the conference, said Dr Jones had adopted the view, contrary to earlier estimates, that in 25 years the sea would rise 50cm and in 50 years time, by one metre.

Dr Jones advises that the data now suggests that by 2100 the sea could rise in excess of five metres, he said. This would mean that the council chambers where we sit will be flooded.

He said the implications for Ballina Shire and its local environment plan (LEP) included a potential 40cm sea rise.

How will that affect our water table, our flood plain drainage and our future land release areas in West Ballina and the Barret land in Lennox Head? Possibly quite extensively regarding the document (draft LEP) in preparation now, he said.

Cr Rich said that Professor Bruce Thom, of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, who also attended the conference, had described Dr Jones data as scary, really scary.

Professor Thom told Cr Rich that there was a strong view that the global-warming trends were more severe than what the public were told and that the most recent IPCC report was already outdated as it was based on scientific studies which ended in 2005.

The array of research conducted since 2005, Dr Thom said, was alarming as far as impacts were concerned.

Cr Rich in his report said that if ever in the course of human events there was a call to massively enact the precautionary principle, this is the time, undoubtedly.

There are extensive implications to the way Ballina Council makes decisions and provides services and as councillors we must be aware of them, he said.

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