Vancouver Underwater?July 23, 2009
“The spectre of rising sea levels and ecological change from climate disruption show land-use plans for Vancouver Island and the B.C. coast will need to be revisited and recalibrated to account for rapid and unabated climate change.”
“‘Once set in motion, sea-level rise is impossible to stop. The only chance we have to limit sea-level rise to manageable levels is to reduce emissions very quickly, early in this century. Later it will be too late to do much,’ says senior NASA scientist Stefan Rahmstorf in a recent article for the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”
Really? Here is 100 years worth of sea level rise data from the B.C. capital, Victoria, on Vancouver Island (Click on graphs to see full graph in its original context):
The sea level rise rate has not changed in Victoria in the last 100 years, even though CO2 levels have gone from about 290 ppm to about 380 ppm today. Most of that CO2 increase occurred in the last 50 years. You can see the danger that Victoria is in – I guess we better change the economy of the world in order to save them. At the current rise rate the sea will rise 8cm (about 3 inches) in the next 100 years.
If things are too scary in Victoria, then the folks living there might consider emigrating to the city of Vancouver, on the mainland about 50 miles north of Victoria. They might feel better with the sea level rise rate there…
At the city of Vancouver the sea level has risen a whopping 3.7 (1.5 inches) cm in the last 100 years, and it doesn’t seem to be accelerating.
But some of the folks in Victoria may not want to move to the mainland, preferring to stay on Vancouver Island. If so, they could stay on the Island and move about 100 miles northwest to Tofino where they might finally feel safe from the terror of rising seas…
Alas, in Tofino the good people of Vancouver Island might have to contend with a dropping sea level. At a rate of minus 1.59 mm per year, the ocean would drop 15.9 cm (about 6 inches) in the next 100 years. This dropping sea level might even be worse than a rising sea level, drying out estuaries and wetlands. Everybody knows the only safe sea level is a static sea level.
But seriously folks…
The rate of sea level rise varies form place to place and depends on a lot of factors. Changes in ice inventories, currents, and geological effects, such as glacial isostatic adjustment all contribute and are worthy of study and measurement. But they should no be used to foster panic for political ends.
Any serious discussion of the effect of sea level rise in Vancouver Island or the British Columbia sea coast would have to include the data I have shown above. So why isn’t this data even mentioned in the Times Colonist article? You would think a journalist who is seeking the truth, wherever it may lead, would manage to find this data. But it turns out that the author of the article is not a journalist, but rather Chris Genovali, the executive director of Raincoast Conservation. Chris Genovali is probably a fine person, and Raincoast Conservation may be a fine organization – I don’t know. But Genovali is not an objective person when it comes to the issue of sea-level rise in British Columbia or Vancouver Island.