East Anglia: ‘Dice is loaded’ against region in fight against impact of climate change

The Suffolk coast will face increasing threat from sea level rises, argues Asher Minns. 

Photo: Mike Page The Suffolk coast will face increasing threat from sea level rises, argues Asher Minns. Photo: Mike Page

Monday, January 20, 2014
9:04 AM

Global carbon emissions that have rocketed to record levels mean “the dice is loaded” against East Anglia in its battle to resist the most dramatic effects of climate change, a leading researcher has warned.

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The amount of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere was now calculated to be 36billion tonnes – an all-time high – and with each additional tonne the risks to Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk increased, said climate change expert Asher Minns.

The director and communications manager at the University of East Anglia-based Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research sounded the warning in a talk on Saturday at the Firstsite venue in Colchester entitled East Anglia on the Edge.

He stressed that large parts of the East Anglian coastline were defended from flood and coastal erosion and he did not want to appear alarmist.

However, he said: “I do not think we can say with certainty that floods and tidal surges are linked to climate change but we can say that we are loading the dice on the issue of rising sea levels. With the more greenhouse gasses we put up there (into the atmosphere) the more probability there is of climate change, with sea level rises, increased winter rainfall and less in summer for our part of the world.”

On the recent North Sea tidal surge and flooding events, Mr Minns cited PM David Cameron’s comments in the House of Commons this month in which he told MPs he “very much suspected” that the events were linked to climate change. Mr Cameron, said the researcher, was “probably right”.

Sea level rise was not a new phenomenon – UK port records over 200 years had been studied “and all over the country the direction is up”, said Mr Minns.

South-eastern Britain was “sinking” and Scotland was “rising” as Britain continued to “relax” after bearing the weight of glaciers during the last Ice Age. In addition, glaciers that were melting today were adding to sea level rise.

The combination of factors meant that for London, for example, sea level rises of at least 18cm and at most 80cm were predicted and “even if we turned off the CO2 tap” rises would continue because it was such a long-term process.

In terms of the amount of carbon currently in the Earth’s atmosphere, said Mr Minns, “we are about half way to (the amount that would produce) a climate change of a global average of 2C” and “we are now 61% above the levels of 1990.”

Of the 36bn tonnes of carbon released in the Earth’s atmosphere, 12bn tonnes had been emitted globally in the last year, with China alone being responsible for nearly half the period’s released amount, it was claimed.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had recently concluded that it was “highly likely” that human influence had been the “dominant cause” of observed global warming since the mid-20th Century and planning for and adapting to climate change was now “really an issue of political support.”

Mr Minns was speaking as part of a series of talks based on the current Firstsite exhibition of works by the renowned environmental and conceptual artist Agnes Denes. The exhibition, Work: 1967 – 2013, continues until March 9.

12 comments

  • I see the usual zombie science is being trotted out by the (un-)skeptical science advocacy crew. There has been ni statistically significant increase in any of the <i>statistical<i> data sets for periods of between 8+ and 17+ (1 Santer) years. Nor is there any correlation between atmospheric CO2 CO2 levels and temperature <i>rise<i> anywhere in the (multiply-adjusted) statistical datasets except for the period at the end of the 20th Century which started off all the whole CAGW alarmism. The data show no increase in either frequency or intensity of 'extreme' weather events. (Climate science definition of 'extreme weather event: it's windy, or it's how, or it's raining...) There is no <i>measured<i> acceleration in sea-level rise, which continues as it has done since the end of the LIA. Climate 'science' is regressive, that is, it does not follow the scientific method. Instead, any contra-indicators to the so-called 'theory' are dismissed, ignored, or the person who raises the points subjected to abuse as a 'denier,' or as, somehow, being 'anti-science,' this despite <i>all<i> of it's predictions having been thoroughly falsified by empiric observation.

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    willyh

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • I thought that alarmist articles of this kind had ceased. However, at least Asher Minns does inject a welcome level of uncertainty in parts, where he states ambiguously “I do not think we can say with certainty that floods and tidal surges are linked to climate change but we can say that we are loading the dice on the issue of rising sea levels." The actual sea rise levels are accepted at 3mm per year currently, or about one eighth of an inch. Some experts say that it could be as low as 1mm a year. This is not the dominant problem in East Anglia, which is millenial scale coastal erosion. Villages recorded in Roman times may now be up to a mile out under the sea. The debate needs to be conducted with real evidence and observations, and not with the highly conditioned output from incomplete computer models that prop up most of the pro-AGW arguments.

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    Steven Whalley

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • said 'Climate Change expert' ?, is he from the same batch of so called experts that predicted if you travelled or sailed too far, you would fall off the edge of the earth ?

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    freedomf

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • This sort of story is called "churnalism" - simply repeating a press release without doing any due diligence. The TRUTH is that no temperature rises have been measured for 17 years, sea level rises are the same as they have been for hundreds of years, the world index of storms and hurricanes are actually down over the last couple of decades, and the amount of rainfall the UK receives is unchanged. If you don't believe me, seek out the graphs for yourselves. At some point, the mainstream media will realise they have been conned and do their JOBS, i.e. independently verifying the scare stories they are happy to vomit at us daily.

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    James M

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • All datasets reflect warming that has been occurring at the same rate since the end of the LIA - about which we are all very happy - and none of which correlates with atmospheric CO2 except for the period at the end of the 20th century which sparked the whole CAGW circus and all the hype, alarmism and BS which followed. CAGW advocates also have to follow the regressive, cliamte sceance method where the talk is of 15 years, then 30 and now 50 - 100. They hand wave away the facts - that the datasets are not showing statistically significant warming - in favour of the theory: regressive cliamte sceance in action. As of the IPCC - the stuff that came out of the IPCC's AR5 acknowledge that they do not even know what the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity might be... never mind that that all of the predictions of their models have been falsified by observation - so far, in fact, that the IPCC no longer even talks about 'projections,' let alone 'predictions,' but 'pathways,' - in other words, unsubstantiated guesswork. This is not science.

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    willyh

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • This article has numerous issues. Mr Asher Minns is not a director of the Tyndall Centre. http:www.tyndall.ac.ukpeopleAsher-Minns http:www.tyndall.ac.ukpeopledirectors The publication about the impact on East Anglia was published by Tyndall director Professor Corinne Le Quéré in her speculative article "What if man-made climate change is loading the dice on floods in the UK? "http:www.telegraph.co.ukearthenvironmentclimatechange10573767What-if-man-made-climate-change-is-loading-the-dice-on-floods-in-the-UK.html As the article explains, the Met Office data shows that there is no increase in rainfall, the Department of the Environment agree that the current, flooding is caused by poor flood defence maintenance design and maintenance, and that natural fluctuation, such as the Sun and changes in ocean temperature and wind currents in the Pacific are the dominant cause of the rise and fall of global temperatures, not human carbon dioxide emissions. Piano Transplant No. 4, in which a piano is destroyed by sea-level rise, was by performance artist Annea Lockwood at Harwich in 2013 to commemorate the East Anglian floods of 1953. Professor Phil Jones, who was Director of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, has pointed out that the temperature data used to test the models was incorrect, in that it introduced what appeared to be a warming of around half a degree per century, which was not present in the real world. The current rate of cooling is around two degrees per century, after a pause of around seventeen years. A special edition of a Physics Journal recently set out the problems which beset those who believe that humans are altering the sea, the weather and the climate. http:www.pattern-recogn-phys.netspecial_issue2.html

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    Roy Everett

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • "says" climate change expert ???, he is from the 'family' of so called 'experts' who said that if you sailed too far, you would fall off the edge of the earth ?

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    freedomf

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • At least they published your comment freedom.

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    James M

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • Thank you for commenting on the account of my talk at FirstSite - a wonderful art gallery in Colchester I'd not been before. And thank you to Mr Grant for writing-up my talk. This is the data that I was referring to, which I think deals with most of the unsubstantiated claims here about graphs, data, definitions etc http:www.ukcip.org.ukwordpresswp-contentPDFsUKCP09_Trends.pdf Also have a look around the http:ukclimateprojections.metoffice.gov.uk22539 - though navigation is not easy For the bigger global report see IPCC Working Group 1 http:www.climatechange2013.orgreportreport-graphics (Working Group 2 which is released in March). Many thanks - oh and I got job title inflation in the introduction - indeed I am not the Director.

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    AsherMinns

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • I see the usual zombie arguments are being trotted out again. They've been debunked may times but they won't lie down and die! Climate change is real and is caused by humans. Scientists are as sure of this are they are sure that smoking causes cancer. http:www.skepticalscience.comglobal-warming-scientific-consensus.htm The Earth has not stopped warming; as the Australians well know. The average temperature rise for 1997 to 2012 is about 0.1°C per decade. http:www.skepticalscience.comglobal-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm The sea level is also still rising. http:www.skepticalscience.comsea-level-rise.htm And Mr Everrett; the "Physics Journal" you quote was a fake journal that was set up by Climate Science deniers to print bogus articles. It has been shut down because, irony of ironies, they subverted the peer review process to make their bogus articles seem legitimate. http:scienceblogs.comgregladen20140118science-denialists-make-fake-journal-get-shut-down

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    Roger Bamforth

    Monday, January 20, 2014

  • Thank you WillyH for your comment. Yes, earth system science is horribly complex and workers attempt to include the known unknowns and uncertainties, improved as knowledge and techniques advance. Please see my links in my earlier post for the background to what I presented at FirstSite. The IPCC link includes the short-term sensitivity of the climate to CO2 and the UK the observations as well as projections, including extreme weather and its statistical definition, that you commented on previously. Here is a further summary on observed weather albeit a little bit old it would be nice to see an update including more recent data. www.cru.uea.ac.ukdocuments4219741295957Info+sheet+%2315.pdf8b8457b7-7bd2-49fc-888a-9b3f6785a40e My slide in preparation for questions about the pause showed the energy warming the land, ice, deep ocean, upper ocean, and the slowing at the surface. 'Pathways' is thought to better describe the socio-economic nature and choices of future energy use resulting in higher or lower emissions to the atmosphere, a phrase that has been used for many years by workers. I'll sign-off now as the talk was a week ago and other stuff demands attention - not least looking at the impacts and consequences of higher-end emissions see www.helixclimate.eu

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    AsherMinns

    Friday, January 24, 2014

  • An "inconvenient" warning but at least with it being "extremely likely" (The IPCC term for a probability of over 95%) that human activity has been the predominant cause since 1950s, then humans could act to stop adding to CO2 at the same rate we have been for a generation. And we should not shelter behind the Chinese as our per-capita rate is almost as selfish as that of the Americans.

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    Neil Winship

    Monday, January 20, 2014

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