Fri 13 August 2010

Greenland holds key to Port's future

You could almost be forgiven for switching off to the bombardment of bad environmental news quicker than you could switch off a light.


But if you plan to bury your head in the sand of Four Mile Beach, you'd better do it quickly as sea levels are on the rise.


It is now widely accepted that there is a correlation between rising greenhouse gas emissions and rising sea levels, and a massive ice shelf on the other side of the planet holds the key to the future of coastal towns and cities such as Port Douglas.


Greenland as we know it may soon cease to exist and sea levels could rise by up to seven metres according to geoscientists who briefed the US Congress.  


With rising temperatures, Greenland's ice shelf is collapsing at a record rate with a 260 square kilometre chunk recently being shed from a glacier, the largest iceberg to fall in 50 years. And it's going to get worse if carbon emissions from human activity aren't curbed.


One of Australia's most respected sea level researchers, Dr John Church, said there was merit in the brief to Congress.


"We are seeing something significant, and it's something our coastal cities have not experienced before.


"We're beginning to move outside the range of what we have become used to seeing as normal variability, and see an acceleration of both greenhouse gas levels and sea level rise.''

''Some time in the next decade we may pass that tipping point, which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive,'' Professor Richard Alley from Pennsylvania State University said.


The Australian government is currently planning for a sea level rise of 90 centimetres by the end of the century, a rise which could have a huge affect on Port Douglas as a low-lying town.


The Newsport has contacted Dr Church to find out just what we can expect, and also the Cairns Regional Council to hear what they are doing to plan for the anticipated rise. We will report these responses as soon as they come to hand.


Editors Comments: It seems we may not need to have a referendum on whether the far north of Queesnland should be a separate state, we may soon be a separate island country!