Sea level lunacy slammed by Sir Tipene

Sir Tipene O'Regan

Sir Tipene O’Regan.

from a National Business Review article of 1 September posted on Facebook:
“Sir Tipene rails against madness of Christchurch sea rise plan” by Chris Hutching

Resentment is growing among property owners in Christchurch and residents are organising themselves since the council announced it would tag 18,000 coastal properties with warnings of inundation from rising sea levels, severely depressing land values without good cause.

You might wonder why predicting rising sea levels might have been unexpected. After all, the whole world expects the sea to rise because we refuse to stop burning hydrocarbons.

Well, when you examine the actual evidence for rising seas, you find anomalies. The IPCC concluded in its latest report, AR5 (2013), that anthropogenic warming of the atmosphere (and thus the sea) would probably cause the sea to rise (by thermal expansion) about 450 mm by the year 2100. This is in the medium range of ‘scenarios’ offered by the IPCC, neither low nor high. The AR5 concluded the “likely” range for sea level rise by 2100 would be between 450 mm and 600 mm. So that is a reasonable amount to be expected, but the IPCC went a little further:

The basis for higher projections of global mean sea level rise in the 21st century has been considered and it has been concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence to evaluate the probability of specific levels above the assessed likely range. Many semi-empirical model projections of global mean sea level rise are higher than process-based model projections (up to about twice as large), but there is no consensus in the scientific community about their reliability and there is thus low confidence in their projections.

So whence comes this projection of one metre of sea-level rise? From the most extreme of the imagined scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions, called Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). The highest is called RCP8.5, which stands for a global level of radiative forcing of 8.5 W/m2 by 2100.

IPCC flunkeys usurp good guidance for Christchurch

The mean sea level rise under RCP8.5 is about 740 mm by 2100. But, you say, the Christchurch council has picked a figure 50% higher even than that! Why? Because that 1000 mm is the very highest guesswork that could possibly occur under RCP8.5.

None of these “calculations” are based on observations, but only on unverified computer models. Nobody knows, and cannot know until the time comes, whether these models are accurate, yet we are expected to believe them and sacrifice, in the case of Christchurch coastal properties, our personal fortunes on the expectation that the models are correct.

This is not science, this is scaremongering. On what basis has the council chosen the most extreme end of the most extreme emission scenario?

Lianne Dalziel, Mayor of Christchurch, claims the Christchurch earthquake gave us “50 years of climate change in a few minutes” to reinforce the one metre sea level narrative. The use of the earthquake tragedy as a climate change propaganda tool is despicable.

Here’s how the NBR described Sir Tipene O’Regan’s attack on the council’s reasoning.

Sir Tipene O’Regan is adding his voice to the chorus of protest against Christchurch City Council’s proposed restrictions on properties now deemed at risk of flooding from climate change.

Worst-case UN fantasy dooms foreshore properties

Sir Tipene lives at South Shore, one of the areas where council staff have tagged land titles, restricting existing rights to develop properties and laying them open to increased insurance and potential devaluation.

“What I find most offensive is their intellectual dishonesty. If they really believe in these projections, then they should be prohibiting all building in Christchurch and moving the whole place to West Melton (a small town to the west of Christchurch), or the Canterbury foothills.

“But they’re not. They’re building stuff all over the place that would be compromised if you accepted their theory. Why rebuild Christchurch at all if you believe this plan is valid?”

Abuse of power

Sir Tipene also says it is an abuse of power to speed up the passage of the district plan under the provisions of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, forbidding appeals except on points of law.

“This whole thing should be done on a national basis, not left to individual councils to decide.”
It was ironic that the earthquakes actually raised the level of the land where the O’Regan’s live by about one third of a metre (other areas at the neck of the South Shore spit fell).

“In that respect we now find ourselves on a little island surrounded by a sea of doom. That gives us another 130 years rather than the 100 years estimated by the council’s Tonkin & Taylor engineering report. All of the assumptions in the report fail to consider what might happen to the level of the land.”

Better a doormat than test the evidence?

“Pegasus Bay is built up from the sediment coming from the mountains down the Waimakariri, Ashley, Waiau, Hurunui and Clarence rivers,” said Sir Tipene. “It’s extraordinary they can talk about erosion without talking about that build-up. Wellington wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for the 1855 earthquake, which raised the place up.

“Nor have they considered mitigation, although they seem to accept it for the suburb of Sumner across from the South Shore spit where there is a man-made sea wall. It’s another indicator of the Christchurch class war.

“It’s a real indictment of the level of intelligence we’ve come to expect. These people are interviewing their keyboards. And you’d have to ask if the decision makers around the council table have even read these reports. [Cabinet minister Gerry] Brownlee and his minders have to say ‘slow down’ and look at this again.”

It’s hard not to agree.

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I thought it gets the prize for the most hyperbolic article on SLR I have seen in a long time.

Richard C (NZ)

>” And nothing in respect to all the individual long-running tide guages (see upthread) that don’t exhibit an “acceleration” contrary to Kopp et al’s gormless blather.”

NOAA Tides and Currents has 40 analyses of long-running tide guages here (scroll down to bottom)::

For chuckles, click on all the top row TGs in Scandinavia. Every one exhibits NEGATIVE sea level rates.

Very few e.g. Latvia, exhibit anything like what could be described as “temperature-driven” where CO2 might be involved. Fort Denison and Wismar are already covered upthread but for example check out Cuxhaven,, Aberdeen, Brest, Cascais, Marseille, Trieste, Poti, Mumbai/Bombay (classic), Fremantle, Auckland , Lyttelton , Victoria, Balboa, Halifax, and Churchill.

Kopp et al are idiots. And so is anyone who believes their paper.

Richard C (NZ)

>”I thought it gets the prize for the most hyperbolic article on SLR I have seen in a long time.”

Certainly a top contender. In respect to the actual paper, I’m going with “gormless blather”.

Richard C (NZ)

>”Aberdeen……..Mumbai/Bombay (classic)”

Variation of 50-Year Mean Sea Level Trends 170-011 Aberdeen I & II, UK

Variation of 50-Year Mean Sea Level Trends 500-041 Mumbai/Bombay, India

Would somebody please explain to me how these are “temperature driven”.

Richard C (NZ)

>”For chuckles, click on all the top row TGs in Scandinavia. Every one exhibits NEGATIVE sea level rates.”

Stockholm, Sweden, is probably more of a laugh out loud hoot than a chuckle:

Richard C (NZ)

‘Sweden: The land of the rising coastline’ Reuters | 2 December 2012 A Stone Age camp that used to be by the shore is now 125 miles from the Baltic Sea. Sheep graze on what was the seabed in the 15th century. And Sweden’s port of Lulea risks getting too shallow for ships. In contrast to worries from the Maldives to Manhattan of storm surges and higher ocean levels caused by climate change, the entire northern part of the Nordic region is rising and, as a result, the Baltic Sea is receding. The uplift of almost a centimetre a year, one of the highest rates in the world, is part of a geological rebound that has been taking place since the end of the Ice Age removed a vast ice sheet from regions around the Arctic Circle. “It’s a bit like a foam rubber mattress. It takes a while to return to normal after you get up,” said Martin Vermeer, a professor of geodesy at Aalto University in Finland. Finland gains 2.7 square miles a year as the land rises. In the Lulea region, just south of the Arctic Circle, mostly flat with… Read more »

Richard C (NZ)

This is fun. 50 yr tends (centred) for Mumbai/Bombay, India: Trend Year, Trend in mm/yr 1905 0.12 1910 0.71 1915 1.27 1920 1.80 1925 2.28 1930 2.61 1935 2.41 1940 1.72 1945 1.21 1950 0.52 1955 -0.29 1960 -0.52 1965 -0.91 1970 -0.86 1975 -0.86 1980 -0.86 1985 -0.86 1990 -0.86 1995 -0.86 Apparently, according to Kopp et al, these trends are “temperature-driven”.


Blogger “Climate Sanity” has put together a good animation of actual tide gauge data around the world and overlays it with 1m and 1.8m projections

None of the projections is even close to the real trends.


Interactive tool predicts future sea levels

Sea levels are expected to rise half a metre in the next 50 years and coastal communities can now gaze into that future and get a glimpse of what it might look like.

Waikato Regional Council launched its Coastal Inundation tool at the first Sustainable Waikato forum, held at the Don Rowlands Centre at Lake Karapiro on Wednesday


Niwa coastal oceanographer Rob Bell, who collaborated with council on the project, told the forum sea levels were at their highest point in history and were expected to increase.

“We have already burnt into the Earth’s climate system half a metre of sea level rise,” said Bell.

Niwa and Ministry for the Environment advice said projected sea levels will continue to rise over the century to a metre above current levels.

Bell said sea level rise is “certain to happen”


Further to our representation at e hearings panel last week, Judge Hassan has issued a minute requesting further information and mapping work from Christchurch City Council

The contents of this minute closely reflect the points we tried to get across in our submissions and presentations, so I think we should all be feeling pleased that we have got a positive outcome, so far.


The main points regarding the hearings panel were around interpretation of policy advice, and also the appropriate building codes to manage the perceived level of risk

The main policy documents are NZCPS 2010 and CRPS (Canterbury Regional Policy Statement). Both these state a level of 0.5 m SLR should be planned for by 2100, and the effects of 0.8m assessed.

Somehow, CCC, and every other council, have managed to morph this into a 1m SLR policy.
New maps and clarification of building codes should help the panel come to a decision.

Judge Hassan was very fair to all parties. I was most impressed by him.


There is a one day conference on SLR on April 8th

From the blurb

The sea has risen globally by 20cm on average over the last 100 years, but that increase has accelerated markedly in the last 20 years.

Except the tide gauges don’t agree.

Richard C (NZ)

>”Both these state a level of 0.5 m SLR should be planned for by 2100″ Even 0.5m is over twice the Lyttleton II historical trend. J Hassan is asking for 0, 0.5, and 1m. Historical falls between 0 and 0.5 so maybe they are considering that.. Also can’t help noting the 100 yr timeframe keeps changing. IPCC projections begin 1990 i.e. those projections can and should be assessed continually (say every 5 yrs) because 25 years have already elapsed and 100 yrs falls on 2090. Then 100 yrs ends “by 2100” implying 100 yr projection starts from 2000. Now J Hassan is asking for 2115 from 2015 start which means 0.8 is to be “adjusted” to 1m. At this rate, I’m wondering when projections will start at 2100. And I see a big bone-of-contention is CCC waterways not being cleared and even planted. This was what happened in the Brisbane hinterland floods. Urban waterways were planted and had structures and walkway bridges built in them so the water was effectively dammed. Same thing on the farm I was bought up on. The waterway downstream was clogged so the flats of the farms immediately… Read more »


I agree the issue around starting points is a bit silly

The MfE advise on planning for 0.5 m SLR by 2100 and then 10mm a year beyond that, so all the current policy is blindly adding 10mm a year for every year beyond 2100

Then, the CCC project 1m SLR by 2115, which would require 14mm a year by 2115 according to my calculations, and then this magically transforms to a linear rate of 10mm a year after that.

In the real world (which is obviously irrelevant here), Lyttelton II plods along at 1.7mm a year

Richard C (NZ)

>”Lyttelton II plods along at 1.7mm a year”

2.36 mm/yr long-term from PSMSL data:

3.00 mm/yr 1940 – 1990
1.85 mm/yr 1950 – 2000

Auckland II 1.29 mm/yr long-term:

0.52 mm/yr most recent 50 yr trend available, 2.18 mm/yr mid century:

Wellington 2.45 mm/yr, Bluff/Southland Harbour 1.57 mm/yr (sparse data).

“1.7mm a year” is the NZ per century average of multiple tide guages (I think). In any event, the multidecadal trends fluctuate markedly and each local tide guage differs from the NZ average.

I don’t see how a blanket 100 yr advice can be issued across NZ given the above.


“I don’t see how a blanket 100 yr advice can be issued across NZ given the above.”

I explained to the panel that RCP 8.5 implies “catastrophic” climate change, temps over 5 degrees C above now, one metre SLR, based on some implausible socio-economic pathways (I didn’t go anywhere near the CO2 question)

They got the message (not just from me though)

Unless this kind of stuff gets challenged regularly, then one metre SLR just becomes a “fact”, embedded in the collective subconscious.

Richard C (NZ)

>”Lyttelton II……. 2.36 mm/yr long-term from PSMSL data”

From 1990 gives 0.295m rise by 2115
From 2115 gives 0.236m rise by 2115

From 1990 gives 0.059m rise at 2015 (plus or minus).

This is the default long-term scenario. A departure from it requires proof of long-term departure occurring. That is, evidence beyond multidecadal fluctuation. NOAA’s 50 yr trends moving every 5 yrs shows this is all but impossible over less than about 50 – 100 years given 3.00 mm/yr 1940 – 1990 and 1.85 mm/yr 1950 – 2000 in Lyttelton II.

Richard C (NZ)

Should be – “From [2015] gives 0.236m rise by 2115”


MIAMI—Sea levels are rising here at the rate of an inch a year, and if trends continue, they will rise six feet well before the end of this century. By then, the ocean will have subsumed the city’s low-lying, densely-populated areas—the wealthy coastal enclave of Coral Gables, much of Little Havana, downtown Miami, and of course Miami Beach.

One inch = 25.4mm a year.

Meanwhile NOAA reports 2.39mm a year for Miami

Why the factor of 10 out?

Richard C (NZ)

>”Meanwhile NOAA reports 2.39mm a year for Miami”

Sparse data, one might argue. Except Key West Florida has continuous data since the 1910s:


Not sure how all this morphs into “an inch a year”, other than a decade is now interpreted to mean a year at that media outlet. Soon it will be an inch a month.

Richard C (NZ)

Titus rocks the boat at Real Climate:

14 Titus says: 19 Mar 2016 at 12:22 AM

There have been no cases of any unprecedented sea level rise here in New Zealand. The rise is at the historic average with some places showing a decline.
Check out –

We, at least, can sleep easy.

# # #

Ruffled feathers downthread.


Radio NZ have been interviewing Hansen and Bamber on SLR


Jonathan Bamber is here for the Sea Level Rise conference on April 8th where we will all hear that “it’s worse than we thought” which will trigger a rash of local government authorities to make irrational decisions on coastal properties without consulting the residents.

Or maybe not,..


More on the Christchurch saga:

The Tonkin and Taylor report is being peer-reviewed for the second time, this time by GHD under the chairmanship of Maurice Hoban

They are seeking input and questions to the process from the public, and are holding a series of public meetings over the next few weeks.

Richard C (NZ)

‘Mikey Doesn’t Like It!’ [Atlantic City NJ, USA sea level trends]

Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard), Posted on March 27, 2016

After attacking me with a bunch of BS, Michael “An Embarrassment To The Profession” Mann has deleted my response. He can’t win a debate, so he censors.

[see background]

‘Mikey Censors Inconvenient Truths’

By Paul Homewood, March 28, 2016

This is the truth that Mikey wants to hide:

[see chart]

As Tony commented in his original post:

“Sea level rise rates on the Atlantic seaboard peaked around 1950. There is no “human footprint.” None at all.”

I’ll leave a comment at Mikey’s place with this graph. We’ll see how long that stays up!

Richard C (NZ)

‘An answer to: Is the rise in sea levels accelerating?’ by: Jan Kjetil Andersen, March 28, 2016 […..IPCC AR5 case with updated data……] I have selected three set of series, which I call very long series, long series and medium long series. Very long series are 1900 through 2013; long series 1925 through 2014 and medium long are 1950 through 2014. In addition, all selected series have at least 80% complete monthly readings. Of the 281 stations in the Gloss network only 6 fulfils the criteria for very long series, 9 for long series and 22 for medium long series. The list of these stations is given in the end of the article. Two averages are made for each set of series; one simple average, and one global gridded average. The latter one was computed by dividing the globe in a 6×12 grid consisting of 72 cells measuring 30 degrees latitude times 30 degrees longitude. First, an average of all stations within each grid cell are computed. The global average is then an average of the all grid cells with a weighting of each grid cells according to its area. Because degrees longitude… Read more »


Questions for oral answer Climate Change—Sea Level Rise [Sitting date: 12 April 2016] 2. EUGENIE SAGE (Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does she agree with the statement made by GNS Senior Scientist Nancy Bertler that sea-level rise of 30cm in 30 years is “incredibly certain”, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s analysis that a 30cm rise would result in 1 in 100-year high water levels in Wellington happening every year? Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Climate Change Issues): In part, yes, but I would point out that even the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the scientist mentioned in the question disagree. Eugenie Sage: Would she discourage a first-home buyer from taking out a 30-year mortgage today on a home in a low-lying coastal area, given the risks facing such properties over the next 30 years? Hon PAULA BENNETT: It would depend on where it is, what mitigation happens over the next 30 years, and what adaptation local councils are taking responsibility for. Eugenie Sage: Does she believe that councils are giving homebuyers enough information on the effects that rising sea levels may have on future property values… Read more »

Richard C (NZ)

>sea-level rise of 30cm in 30 years is “incredibly certain”

Or incredibly bonkers.

Applied to Wellington, that’s this graph except shown is 30cm in 35 years to 2050 as per Dr Jan Wright:

comment image

30cm in 30 years is an even steeper, more bizarre, and totally unfeasible red line slope to 2045.

These people are as mad as march hares


As you say, 1.7mm a year in 30 years is about 5cm, and there is no obvious sign of acceleration.

So we would require an average SLR that is 6 times the current rate, on average, over the next 30 years, for this “incredibly certain” outcome


The latest saga is here

“No compo for homes rebuilt in potential flood zone”

The council have managed to stuff up their mapping and let several houses be built at lower than the acceptable heights (i.e acceptable to the council), leaving property owners with devalued and potentially uninsurable properties

Their flood heights are based on their climate projections.

The council refuses to pay out compensation


The latest MfE guidance indicates no new development within 1.9m of high tide.

This is significantly worse than previous guidance.

Oh, and the author is a previous Greenpeace employee.

More details available on request


Here is the Herald article on the latest from MfE

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