Climate Progress has a discussion on a recent paper by James Hansen which highlights the prognosis for climate change in southern parts of the United States, where drought and sea level rise are particular dangers.
Here is an excerpt from the discussion that followed:
Peter Mizla says: The great 20th century migration to the ‘sunbelt’ is ending. The Way back north should start in the 2020’s.
Bill G says: Hello Detriot: Stop! Do Not tear down those thousands of abandoned houses! Tenants are on the way.
Climate change is expected to be kinder to Britain than Texas. But in Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change Hansen discusses the possibility of a 5m rise in sea-level this century if the loss of ice from Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating exponentially.
Five-meter sea level change in 21st century under assumption of linear change (Alley, 2010) and exponential change (Hansen, 2007), the latter with a 10-year doubling time.
Hansen points out that predictions at this stage are uncertain but may actually be worse. He says
These data records are too short to provide a reliable evaluation of the doubling time, but, such as they are, they yield a best fit doubling time for annual mass loss of 5-6 years for both Greenland and Antarctica., consistent with the approximate doubling of annual mass loss in the period 2003-2008.
A doubling time if 5-6 years would lead to a much higher sea-level rise than 5m this century. But just try a 5m rise on firtree website http://flood.firetree.net/. Most people in Hull and Grimsby may need to be rehoused so will the climate refugees from Southern Europe.
These predictions will not be taken seriously enough by the politicians and government departments that I manage to catch – they are not ready to make any plans that require significant resources but perhaps they can be persuaded that contingency plans are necessary – these plans may be needed in a hurry.
Instant low carbon housing required
Prefabs, the “temporary” homes built after the World Wars of the twentieth century, were one of the great housing successes in the past 100 years. They were meant to last 5 or 10 years but some have lasted 60 years. But the big story is that the residents liked them. See, for example, Wolverhampton History and Heritage Society’s article on Tarran Bungalows on the East Park Estate or Nurse Richards of Portobello. For a more architectural description of prefabs Prefab: From Utilitarian Home To Design Icon.
We must have contingency plans for the possible influx of climate refugees and designs for modern prefabs – buildings that can be delivered quickly and ready for use – must be part of this planning.
They must be low carbon both in use and construction. At present the construction industry and government are downplaying the carbon dioxide emitted when buildings are constructed. Even “zero energy developments”, such as BedZED, can have very large carbon footprints from their construction. See Embodied carbon ignored. One maker of prefabricated buildings, Baufritz, claims that their buildings store carbon rather than emitting it to the atmosphere. See Do wooden houses store carbon?
A refugees economy
These designs should be tried and tested – so should plans for their layout and use. The planning for the settlement of climate refugees should also include plans for how a local economy can work in these refugee settlements. That will need a collaboration between economists and planners – a topic for a future post.
3rd October 2011
And refugees from flooding too? : NASA: It Rained So Hard the Oceans Fell
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