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City tells builders near sea must raise land by 1 metre minimum to cope with rising levels

February 11th, 2012 · 184 Comments

I reported before Christmas that many municipalities on the coast are scrambling to alter their long-term guidelines for building on the coast following a provincial report that upped the estimate of how much the sea will rise in the next hundred years.

Word was just issued this week in Vancouver that, as an interim guideline, all builders are being told they should raise the level of their land by a metre. Memo below

CMO – SUS – Adaptation Sea Level Rise – Interim FCL Memo to Council signed – 2012

Categories: Uncategorized

  • gman

    This is just to funny,apparently the criminal fraudster who fraudulently obtained private e mails and also forged documents then released them has turned himself in.It turns out to be Dr.Gleick at the AGU,now heres the kicker,he is the chair of the “Taskforce on Scientific Ethics” .That says it all. 🙂 ” On Thursday, 16 February, prior to his blog post, Dr. Gleick resigned as chair of AGU’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics, which first convened in November 2011. In his resignation, he cited “personal, private reasons” and expressed concern that he would not be able to fulfill his responsibilities as chair. His resignation was accepted.”

  • MB

    @ gman: “…the sea level has been rising since the last ice age thats no big discovery,the big question is why has it stopped and why have temps. been flat for 15yrs. while at the same time CO2 has been increasing?”

    Is that a joke? I challenge you to email that line to Andrew Weaver at UVic, and post his response. (office manager, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences)

    Be forwarned: He may choose to post your correspondence on his Wall of Hate, on which is pinned many fluttering letters and emails from the denial community … alongside the notes from religious nutbars claiming his admonishment to lower emissions will delay the Apolcalypse and postpone the second coming.

  • spartikus

    I said there are many different factors involved

    Hi gman,

    Your first comment on the complexity of sea levels (#97) was that it was something elementary school children grasp.

    In #149 you’ve* taken a year dip (and it goes up at the end!) and pronounced it as proof the trendline is over. Interestingly the University of Colorado continues to insist global sea levels are rising 3mm/yr on the front page by a variety of measures.

    Your #150 from the U.S. Navy shows sea levels rising across the majority of the area of the world’s oceans.

    *Actually you’re just repeating former FOX weatherman Anthony Watts.

  • gman

    MB your an idiot,why dont you e mail Prof.Phil Jones at UEA and he can tell you that there has been no statistically significant rise in temp. for 15 yrs.,because you seem to be incapable of reading a simple graph.

  • gman

    Spartikus go back and read what I said #97,I was talking about melting sea ice.As for the rest you just dont get it and I dont think you ever will.But you stay scared and keep paying your carbon indulgences.

  • Frances Bula

    @gman. Just a gentle reminder. It should be written “MB, you’re an idiot,” not “MB your an idiot.”

  • MB

    Sticks and stone, gman.

    I have a better idea. Let’s encourage Mssrs. Weaver and Jones to talk to each other. Still better, get all the Earth Sciences folks at both Uvic and U East Anglia to talk to each other.

    Wait … they’ve probably already done that, and more than once.

    And your graph (report + author unidentified, unsurprisingly), the trend line is upwards.

    Keep trying, maestro you’ll get to 200 yet.

  • spartikus

    why dont you e mail Prof.Phil Jones at UEA and he can tell you that there has been no statistically significant rise in temp. for 15 yrs

    Hi Gman,

    That is not correct.

  • MB

    @ Frances … thank you for caring about proper grammer even when well past #100!

  • Frances Bula

    @MB. This is the most fun thread in a long time. Can’t believe people are arguing about this when it is the provincial authorities and the city engineer who have adjusted the building regulations for sea-level rise. This is not theoretical stuff. I presume the “grammer” is a joke. Don’t make me start issuing grades.

  • Bill

    @MB #146

    “And Bill, PR is not science.”

    And advocacy is not science either. But it is clear the AGW lobby is seeing the momentum slip away if someone of the stature of Gleick feels compelled to engage in posting fraudulent and stolen documents.

  • jolson

    Thanks Frances,
    I am reminded by this e-mail thread of the two bald men who had an argument over the nature of a comb!

    Einstein was famous for his “thought experiments” which were always illustrative of physical laws. Likewise we should “think” about the actions that need to be taken by the City of Vancouver in the “event of Sea Level Rise”. What actions will be required?

    For example take the situation of the False Creek Basin in the year 2100AD. Eighty eight years hence with seas that are predicted to be 2-3 meters higher than they are today. Obviously we cannot wait that long before taking action because sea level rise is an incremental process.

    Where do we begin? Here is a list of some of the stakeholders involved; the Parks and Recreation Department, City Engineering for water, sewer, and storm water infrastructure, BC Hydro, BC Gas, BC Tel, various cable providers, the Coast Guard, the Burrard Indian Band, CMHC for Granville Island, numerous strata councils representing 40,000+housing units, City owned social housing projects, the City of Vancouver School Board, False Creek Marina, Stamps Landing, the 2010 Athletes Village, Telus World, Van City Head Office, Translink, Skytrain, Via Rail, Downtown Streetcar, an assortment of land speculators, PavCorp for BC Place, the Plaza of Nations, the Casino, the Round House Community Centre, more marinas, the False Creek Ferry, the False Creek Port Authority, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada, and perhaps a dozen more groups that I have forgotten or don’t even know about.

    Who do you think will sort this out? Will it be the Planning Department with a focus on the latest developer master planning exercise? I doubt it. Will it be the politicians from three different levels of government, one of which seems to be a climate change denier? Very difficult.

    What are the options? Raise the seaside walk way system? Not all that feasible. Build a high tide sea barrier across English Bay? Not all that palpable but does create opportunities. By the way don’t forget inundation from other directions like Kitsalano and Burrard Inlet, oh and don’t forget to start pumping the False Creek Flats which will be below sea level and filling with storm water, oh and maybe speed up combined sewer separation to avoid effluent flows into the basin, oh and maybe start to worry about the effects of not flushing the Creek with sea water, the loss of salinity, the death of marine critters, back flow into the Hinge Park wetland and up First Avenue……….and so forth.

    Not a pretty picture. Can you imagine the lawsuits? The court cases lasting decades, the billions in costs, the resulting additional carbon emissions using increasingly expensive fossil fuels? We really do not have the luxury of arguing about these things, we need to act now, because it will take decades to identify corridors for dikes, to acquire land rights, to gain approvals from authorities having jurisdiction, to raise funds for constructions. Are we to become the hapless Venetians of the west coast up to our knees in sea water? Or are we to become the leaders in adaptation strategies marketing expertise across the planet? We can be the green economy if we think about it.

  • MB

    @ Frances, A+ for pointing out regulatory bodies have accepted climate change as real and have already acted. I still believe local government and the people are ahead of senior governments on this issue, including the freeway-building — but carbon-taxing — BC government.

    But I also note that not one government anywhere — not even Harper’s, whose members are acting as though they want to secure positions in Suncor’s board room after retiring from politics — has denied ACC.

    Yes, I was wondering what one-liners Niles Crane would have made to certain postulations made above. Hence, Kelsey GrammEr. I know, pretty lame … but I was tired.

  • MB

    @ Bill #161: “But it is clear the AGW lobby is seeing the momentum slip away if someone of the stature of Gleick feels compelled to engage in posting fraudulent and stolen documents.”

    Richard Litlemore with DeSmogBlog:

    >>Evaluation shows “Faked” Heartland Climate Strategy Memo is Authentic

    >>A line-by-line evaluation of the Climate Strategy memo, which the Heartland Institute has repeatedly denounced as a “fake” shows no “obvious and gross misstatements of fact,” as Heartland has alleged. On the contrary, the Climate Strategy document is corroborated by Heartland’s own material and/or by its allies and employees.

    >>It also uses phrases, language and, in many cases, whole sentences that were taken directly from Heartland’s own material. Only someone who had previous access to all of that material could have prepared the Climate Strategy in its current form.

    >>In all the circumstances – taking into account Peter Gleick’s explanation of the origin of the Heartland documents, and in direct contradiction of Heartland’s stated position – DeSmogBlog has concluded that the Climate Strategy memo is authentic.<<

    An extensive analysis follows the above introductory paragraphs.

  • MB

    @ Bill, in case you wanted to debate the Heartland Institute’s well-funded climate denial PR campaign in detail, I urge you to contact Brendan DeMelle, Managing Editor, DeSmogBlog at, or 206 | 588 | 2580.

  • gman

  • gman

    Entity USD
    Greenpeace $300m 2010 Annual Report
    WWF $700m ” ($524m Euro)
    Pew Charitable Trust $360m 2010 Annual Report
    Sierra Club $56m 2010 Annual Report
    NSW climate change fund (just one random govt example) $750m NSW Gov (A$700m)
    UK university climate fund (just another random govt example) $360m UK Gov (£234 m)
    Heartland Institute $7m (actually $6.4m)
    US government funding for climate science and technology $7,000m “Climate Money” 2009
    US government funding for “climate related appropriations” $1,300m USAID 2010
    Annual turnover in global carbon markets $120,000m
    2010 Point Carbon
    Annual investment in renewable energy $243,000m
    2010 BNEF
    US government funding for skeptical scientists $ 0

  • gman
  • gman

    Finally, Gavin A. Schmidt, the NASA climate scientist who leads the RealClimate blog, echoed these (and my) views in a response to a RealClimate comment on the Heartland saga by one of his readers:

    Gleick’s actions were completely irresponsible and while the information uncovered was interesting (if unsurprising), it in no way justified his actions. There is an integrity required to do science (and talk about it credibly), and he has unfortunately failed this test. The public discussion on this issue will be much the poorer for this – both directly because this event is (yet) another reason not to have a serious discussion, but also indirectly because his voice as an advocate of science, once powerful, has now been diminished

  • MB

    @ gman: “There is an integrity required to do science (and talk about it credibly), and he [Gleick] has unfortunately failed this test. …”

    Link please. Real Climate is good. But it’s necessary to read that comment in the context of the entire article … if it was even posted on RC.

    And with her dripping sarcasm and ridicule, I’d not rate Joanne Nova’s crediblity very high, or even remotely professional. She cannot be taken seriously,

    Yes, Mr. Gleick was initially sent a document from Heartland by mistake. No issue there. He then posed as someone else to obtain more documents. The posing is the issue, and he has been rightly called out and denounced. But the original document stands.

    Oh yeah, funding. So, let’s get this straight. the Heartland Institute, a non-science PR organization, gets $7 million — er $6.4 million — income from one of the Koch brothers (surmising here, they don ‘t publish the identities of their industrial donors, but it’s an educated guess) AND a tax break?

    Go figure.

  • MB

    We’re only going in circles here. Do you still want to continue, gman?

    Then be my guest and buzz around the thin warming air with two right wings.

  • spartikus

    Hi Gman,

    Your #166 – that’s interesting. In fact awhile ago I charted the budget of Greenpeace and the WWF [combined] vs. the annual budget of Exxon and British Petroleum [not combined] on my humble, humble blog.

    It’s a bit like comparing the Earth to Jupiter and Saturn, but so it goes.

    I was wondering, too, if you had any follow-up to your claim about Phil Jones, which as you know I have shown to be in error.


  • spartikus

    Do you still want to continue, gman?

    gman’s doing Exxon’s God’s work

  • gman

    Spartikus,I didnt know Exxon and BP spent their entire annual budget on climate realism,thanks for the heads up. And about Phil,was he telling the truth in his first interview with the BBC or the second one that you refer to.This is fun after all.

  • gman

    At least we know Greenpeace spends our money wisely.!

  • gman

    MB #171, maybe you should read it again or have someone read it to you.I guess you think others here wont read the link and depend on your misrepresentation.You could be right but it gets a little tired.

  • MB

    Gman, just want some proper context on what is made to appear like a direct quote — without quotation marks.

    Anyway, the issue I have with Heartland is nothing more than accountability and transparency. The “fake” document begs the question, What is their “real” budget, and where does it come from? After all, the US public subsidizes their PR operations with tax breaks.

    All climate science organizations regularly account for their funding as a matter of qualification for public grants.

    Now I just know you’ll have a diversion or a weak comeback to that, like a pink bunny beating a single drum.

  • Bill

    @MB #163

    “I still believe local government and the people are ahead of senior governments on this issue”

    I would say it is the other way around – the senior governments have realized that we cannot afford policies that are developed to reduce carbon emissions and are reversing direction. The collapse of the Western Climate Initiative is just one example. Local governments do not have the same economic pressures as the senior governments since their tax base is much more stable.

    As for the people, any polls I have seen show climate change falling off the radar screens there as well.

    @spartikus #172

    I think you may be comparing apples and oranges again. Are those the lobbying effort budgets of Exxon and BP or their total expenditures?

  • spartikus

    Bill – it’s a straight comparison of the total budgets of all 4 organizations. Greenpeace and WWF have overhead too. Not everything they spend is on advertising. Or even most things. The WWF spends a lot of it’s budget on programs that directly support wildlife. Putting radio collars on tigers, and so on.

    For the record, between January 1, 2010 to October 20, 2010 ExxonMobil spent $32 million on advertising and BP spent $125 million.

    That’s straight up advertising. That does not include lobbying governments. That does not include the funding of foundations.

    The idea that environmental organizations are behemoths in terms of power and influence is not born out by even a cursory examination of the facts.

  • jolson

    Blogging comes at an environmental cost. Servers do not run on thin air, they consume 3% of available energy, most of which is created by burning fossil fuels and thereby producing even more carbon emissions. We don’t all live on mountain tops or on sailing boats, 3.5 billion of us live in cities at sea level. We can adapt to rising sea levels. Go back to #162 and start over because we need you to apply your brilliance to a real problem, after that start thinking about carbon reduction strategies.

  • gman

    In order for sea level to increase 3meters by 2100,88 yrs. from now,sea level rise would have to increase from the present rate of 3mm per year to 34mm per year.I think they might want to check their models.

  • MB

    @ jolson #162: “Are we to become the hapless Venetians of the west coast up to our knees in sea water? Or are we to become the leaders in adaptation strategies marketing expertise across the planet?”

    Thanks for engaging the issues, jolson.

    One idea would be to build a sea barrier 10, 50, 100 or ??? metres out from the existing shore using two or three parrallel rows of sheet piles, then reinforcing the barrier with rock. Parts of the existing False Creek seawall was constructed this way.

    This is an affordable solution that could be implemented incrementally over several decades, and designed to be extended outward and vertically with more rows of sheet piles and rock as the sea rises further. It could function as a beautifully designed seawall with a landscaped walkway on top using quality materials, or be left as an industrial scale eyesore like most rip rap sea barriers are. Nevertheless, ideas like this will have to be considered.

    Gates for ships could be installed at intervals with locks, but that implies the existing waterfront industrial, commercial and residential development would remain, and that the economy still functions on globalized growth fueled by cheap fossil fuels.

    But, the increasing volume of evidence points to diminishing and more expensive natural resources and much upheaval in national and global financial resources as they deal with massive debt, so it behoves us to get out of the red-plaid jacket lumberjack mentality and actually get creative about an economy where growth is slower and much more constrained on several fronts.

    Having said that, maintaining the existing waterfront infrastructure may be possible for a limited time, but eventually facilities would have to be rebuilt, possibly by extending the existing piles | caissons structures like Waterfron Centre and Canada Place currently on vertically, but that has to be coordinated with protecting or mitigating older historic districts a little further inland.

    A sea barrier would only be feasible to a maximum height. I can’t predict what that may be, but it will buy coastal cities like Vancouver several decades, perhaps more than a half-century to figure out what to do with the hundreds of billions in urban assets and agricultural soils that would otherwise be inundated.

    Raising existing dikes will be a very short term fix. Thinking beyond that is, as you said, required if not today, then soon.

  • MB

    @ jolson: “I am reminded by this e-mail thread of the two bald men who had an argument over the nature of a comb!”

    Well, I hope you weren’t referring to me. I’m almost 60 and still have a full head of ungrey hair.

  • MB

    @ gman, way back in this thread you linked to a CitiGroup report that countered the “theory” of peak oil by iterating there is lots of oil in the shale deposits of North Amercia, enough to offset any concerns about a worldwide peak in cheap conventional oil supplies.

    Well, now we have a report in Forex Pros that directly counters the CitiGroup report.

    Here are the introductory paragraphs and the link:


    >> In its February 15 report ‘Resurging North American Oil Production’, Citigroup’s analysts claimed that the shale gas boom was set to morph into a shale oil boom. The report said: “The concept of peak oil is being buried in North Dakota, which is now leading the US to be the fastest growing oil producer in the world. The belief that global oil production has peaked, or is on the cusp of doing so, has underpinned much of crude oil’s decade-long rally (setting aside the 2008 sell-off)”.

    >> Only 14 days later however the US Energy Department, which in January cut its estimates for likely recoverable shale gas from the USA’s giant Marcellus Basin by 66%, and nationwide shale numbers by 42% from previous EIA estimates, released its report on world oil market trends. This contained an array of peak oil-friendly facts and figures.<<