Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Gone with the wind in Britain

The government has finally seen through the wind-farm scam - but why did it take them so long?

To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world's energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero. Despite the regressive subsidy (pushing pensioners into fuel poverty while improving the wine cellars of grand estates), despite tearing rural communities apart, killing jobs, despoiling views, erecting pylons, felling forests, killing bats and eagles, causing industrial accidents, clogging motorways, polluting lakes in Inner Mongolia with the toxic and radioactive tailings from refining neodymium, a ton of which is in the average turbine - despite all this, the total energy generated each day by wind has yet to reach half a per cent worldwide.

If wind power was going to work, it would have done so by now. The people of Britain see this quite clearly, though politicians are often wilfully deaf. The good news though is that if you look closely, you can see David Cameron's government coming to its senses about the whole fiasco. The biggest investors in offshore wind - Mitsubishi, Gamesa and Siemens - are starting to worry that the government's heart is not in wind energy any more. Vestas, which has plans for a factory in Kent, wants reassurance from the Prime Minister that there is the political will to put up turbines before it builds its factory.

This forces a decision from Cameron - will he reassure the turbine magnates that he plans to keep subsidising wind energy, or will he retreat? The political wind has certainly changed direction. George Osborne is dead set against wind farms, because it has become all too clear to him how much they cost. The Chancellor's team quietly encouraged MPs to sign a letter to No. 10 a few weeks ago saying that `in these financially straitened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies onshore wind turbines'.

Putting the things offshore may avoid objections from the neighbours, but (Chancellor, beware!) it makes even less sense, because it costs you and me - the taxpayers - double. I have it on good authority from a marine engineer that keeping wind turbines upright in the gravel, tides and storms of the North Sea for 25 years is a near hopeless quest, so the repair bill is going to be horrific and the output disappointing. Already the grouting in the foundations of hundreds of turbines off Kent, Denmark and the Dogger Bank has failed, necessitating costly repairs.

In Britain the percentage of total energy that comes from wind is only 0.6 per cent. According to the Renewable Energy Foundation, `policies intended to meet the EU Renewables Directive in 2020 will impose extra consumer costs of approximately œ15 billion per annum' or œ670 per household. It is difficult to see what value will be got for this money. The total carbon emissions saved by the great wind rush is probably below 1 per cent, because of the need to keep fossil fuels burning as back-up when the wind does not blow. It may even be a negative number.

America is having far better luck. Carbon emissions in the United States fell by 7 per cent in 2009, according to a Harvard study. But the study concluded that this owes less to the recession that year than the falling price of natural gas - caused by the shale gas revolution. (Burning gas emits less than half as much carbon dioxide as coal for the same energy output.) The gas price has fallen even further since, making coal seem increasingly pricey by comparison. All over America, from Utah to West Virginia, coal mines are being closed and coal plants idled or cancelled. (The US Energy Information Administration calculates that every $4 spent on shale purchases the same energy as $25 spent on oil: at this rate, more and more vehicles will switch to gas.)

So even if you accept the most alarming predictions of climate change, those turbines that have ruined your favourite view are doing nothing to help. The shale gas revolution has not only shamed the wind industry by showing how to decarbonise for real, but has blown away its last feeble argument - that diminishing supplies of fossil fuels will cause their prices to rise so high that wind eventually becomes competitive even without a subsidy. Even if oil stays dear, cheap gas is now likely to last many decades.

Though they may not admit it for a while, most ministers have realised that the sums for wind power just don't add up and never will. The discovery of shale gas near Blackpool has profound implications for the future of British energy supply, which the government has seemed sheepishly reluctant to explore. It has a massive subsidy programme in place for wind farms, which now seem obsolete both as a means of energy production and decarbonisation. It is almost impossible to see what function they serve, other than making a fortune from those who profit from the subsidy scam.

Even in a boom, wind farms would have been unaffordable - with their economic and ecological rationale blown away. In an era of austerity, the policy is doomed, though so many contracts have been signed that the expansion of wind farms may continue, for a while. But the scam has ended. And as we survey the economic and environmental damage, the obvious question is how the delusion was maintained for so long. There has been no mystery about wind's futility as a source of affordable and abundant electricity - so how did the wind-farm scam fool so many policymakers?

One answer is money. There were too many people with snouts in the trough. Not just the manufacturers, operators and landlords of the wind farms, but financiers: wind-farm venture capital trusts were all the rage a few years ago - guaranteed income streams are what capitalists like best; they even get paid to switch the monsters off on very windy days so as not to overload the grid. Even the military took the money. Wind companies are paying for a new œ20 million military radar at Brizlee Wood in Northumberland so as to enable the Ministry of Defence to lift its objection to the 48-turbine Fallago Rig wind farm in Berwickshire.

The big conservation organisations have been disgracefully silent on the subject, like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which until last year took generous contributions from the wind industry through a venture called RSPB Energy. Even journalists: at a time when advertising is in short supply, British newspapers have been crammed full of specious but lucrative `debates' and supplements on renewable energy sponsored by advertising from a cohort of interest groups.

And just as the scam dies, I find I am now part of it. A family trust has signed a deal to receive œ8,500 a year from a wind company, which is building a turbine on land that once belonged to my grandfather. He was canny enough not to sell the mineral rights, and the foundations of the turbine disturbs those mineral rights, so the trustees are owed compensation. I will not get the money, because I am not a beneficiary of the trust. Nonetheless, the idea of any part of my family receiving `wind-gelt' is so abhorrent that I have decided to act. The real enemy is not wind farms per se, but groupthink and hysteria which allowed such a flawed idea to progress - with a minimum of intellectual opposition. So I shall be writing a cheque for œ8,500, which The Spectator will give as a prize to the best article devoted to rational, fact-based environmental journalism.

It will be called the Matt Ridley prize for environmental heresy. Barring bankruptcy, I shall donate the money as long as the wind-gelt flows - so the quicker Dave cancels the subsidy altogether, the sooner he will have me and the prizewinners off his back.

Entrants are invited forthwith, and a panel of judges will reward the most brilliant and rational argument - that uses reason and evidence - to gore a sacred cow of the environmental movement. There are many to choose from: the idea that wind power is good for the climate, or that biofuels are good for the rain forest, or that organic farming is good for the planet, or that climate change is a bigger extinction threat than invasive species, or that the most sustainable thing we can do is de-industrialise.

My donation, though significant for me, is a drop in the ocean compared with the money that pours into the green movement every hour. Jeremy Grantham, a hedge-fund plutocrat, wrote a cheque for œ12 million to the London School of Economics to found an institute named after him, which has since become notorious for its aggressive stance and extreme green statements. Between them, Greenpeace and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) spend nearly a billion a year. WWF spends $68 million a year on `public education' alone. All of this is judged uncontroversial: a matter of education, not propaganda.

By contrast, a storm of protest broke recently over the news that one small conservative think-tank called Heartland was proposing to spend just $200,000 in a year on influencing education against climate alarmism. A day later, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, with assets of $7.2 billion, gave a grant of $100 million to something called the ClimateWorks Foundation, a pro-wind power organisation, on top of $481 million it gave to the same recipient in 2008. The deep green Sierra Club recently admitted that it took $26 million from the gas industry to lobby against coal.

But money is not the only reason that the entire political establishment came to believe in wind fairies. Psychologists have a term for the wishful thinking by which we accept any means if the end seems virtuous: `noble-cause corruption'. The phrase was first used by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir John Woodcock in 1992 to explain miscarriages of justice. `It is better that some innocent men remain in jail than the integrity of the English judicial system be impugned,' said the late Lord Denning, referring to the Birmingham Six.

Politicians are especially susceptible to this condition. In a wish to be seen as modern, they will embrace all manner of fashionable causes. When this sets in - groupthink grips political parties, and the media therefore decide there is no debate - the gravest of errors can take root. The subsidising of useless wind turbines was born of a deep intellectual error, one incubated by failure to challenge conventional wisdom.

It is precisely this consensus-worshipping, heretic-hunting environment where the greatest errors can be made. There are some 3,500 wind turbines in Britain, with hundreds more under construction. It would be a shame for them all to be dismantled. The biggest one should remain, like a crane on an abandoned quay, for future generations to marvel at. They will never be an efficient way to generate power. But there can be no better monument to the folly of mankind.


A Hawk Goes Off Message

In his weekend op-ed, Thomas Friedman indicated he was ready to embrace a form of climate pragmatism: "This is a column about energy and environment and why we must not let the poisonous debate about climate change so tie us in knots that we cannot have any energy policy at all, particularly one focused on developing much more efficient use of resources, through better designs and systems."

Friedman still had some tart words for those who think that belief in climate science is a slippery slope to one-world, UN-led government. Actually, this is what he said: "If you are so reckless as to dismiss all climate science as a hoax, and do not accept the data that our planet is getting hotter and the oceans rising, I can't help you."

Translation: He's moving on. He's realized that fighting climate contrarians-much less trying to reason with them-is futile. And counterproductive. He's concluded: "We can't let the climate wars continue to derail efforts to have an energy policy that puts in place rising efficiency standards, for buildings, windows, traffic, housing, packaging and appliances, that will drive innovation - which is our strength - in what has to be the next great global industry: energy and resource efficiency."

Friedman's philosophical shift prompted Andy Revkin to tweet: "Tom Friedman pushes smart-energy endrun past CO2 stasis http://nyti.ms/xxJRFe echoing climate pragmatism @GlobalEcoGuyenvironment.umn.edu/momentum/issue."

Needless, to say, this non-climate-centric rhetorical approach was not received well in certain quarters. The Climate Orthodoxy Police (COP), an outfit run by blogger Joe Romm at the Center for American Progress (CAP), sounded its internal alarms. This happens nearly every day when someone goes off message or does anything to undermine the dictates by the COP. Friedman's column definitely put him on the wrong side of COP.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Naomi Klein: `If You Take Climate Change Seriously, You Have to Throw Out the Free-Market Playbook'

Nice to see a prominent Green/Leftist admitting that the entire American way of life is the enemy and that Fascism is the way to go

Klein says in an interview:

"You can set up carbon markets, consumer markets, and just pretend, but if you want to get serious about climate change, really serious, in line with the science, and you want to meet targets like 80 percent emissions cuts by midcentury in the developed world, then you need to be intervening strongly in the economy, and you can't do it all with carbon markets and offsetting. You have to really seriously regulate corporations and invest in the public sector. And we need to build public transport systems and light rail and affordable housing along transit lines to lower emissions. The market is not going to step up to this challenge. We must do more: rebuild levees and bridges and the public sphere, because we saw in Katrina what happens when weak infrastructure clashes with heavy weather-it's catastrophe. These climate deniers aren't crazy-their worldview is under threat. If you take climate change seriously, you do have to throw out the free-market playbook."

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Why Warmism is not settled science (Excerpt)

by Dr. Robert Brown, Duke University Physics Department

When I teach students introductory physics, I tell them up front - "Everything I'm going to teach you over the next two semesters is basically wrong - but it works, and works amazingly well, right up to where it doesn't work and we have to find a better, broader explanation." I also tell them not to believe anything I tell them because I'm telling them, and I'm the professor and therefore I know and its up to them to parrot me and believe it or else. I tell them quite the opposite. Believe me because what I teach you makes sense (is consistent), corresponds at least roughly with your own everyday experience, and because when you check it in the labs and by doing computations that can be compared to e.g. planetary observations, they seem to work. And believe me only with a grain of salt then - because further experiments and observations will eventually prove it all wrong.

Where does that leave one in the Great Climate Debate? Well, it damn well should leave you skeptical as all hell. I believe in the theory of relativity. Let me explain that - I really, really believe in the theory of relativity. I believe because it works; it explains all sorts of experimental stuff. I can run down a list of experimental observations that are explained by relativity that could scarcely be explained by anything else - factors of two in spin-orbit coupling constants, the tensor forms and invariants of electromagnetism, the observation of \mu-mesons produced from cosmic ray collisions in the upper atmosphere far down near the surface of the Earth where they have no business being found given a lifetime of \sim 2 microseconds - and observation I personally have made - and of course all the particle accelerators in the known Universe would fail miserably in their engineering if relativity weren't at least approximately correct. Once you believe in relativity (because it works) it makes some very profound statements about causality, time ordering, and so on - things that might well make all the physics I think that I know inconsistent if it were found to be untrue.

Yet I was - and continue to be - at least willing to entertain the possibility that I might have to chuck the whole damn thing, wrong from top to bottom - all because a silly neutrino in Europe seems to be moving faster than it should ever be aver to move. Violations of causality, messages from the future, who knows what carnage such an observation (verified) might wreak! I'm properly skeptical because what we have observed - so far - works so very consistently, and the result itself seems to be solidly excluded by supernova data already in hand, but you know, my beliefs don't dictate reality - it is rather the other way around.

The sad thing about the Great Climate Debate is that so far, there hasn't really been a debate. The result is presented, but no one ever takes questions from the podium and is capable of defending their answers against a knowledgeable and skeptical questioner.

The Great Climate Debate, however, is predicated from the beginning on one things. We know what the global average temperature has been like for the past N years, where N is nearly anything you like. A century. A thousand years. A hundred thousand years. A hundred million years. Four billion years.

We don't, of course. Not even close. Thermometers have only been around in even moderately reliable form for a bit over 300 years - 250 would be a fairer number - and records of global temperatures measured with even the first, highly inaccurate devices are sparse indeed until maybe 200 years ago. Most of the records from over sixty or seventy years ago are accurate to no more than a degree or two F (a degree C), and some of them are far less accurate than that. As Anthony has explicitly demonstrated, one can confound even a digital electronic automatic recording weather station thermometer capable of at least 0.01 degree resolution by the simple act of setting it up in a stupid place, such as the southwest side of a house right above a concrete driveway where the afternoon sun turns its location into a large reflector oven. Or in the case of early sea temperatures, by virtue of measuring pails of water pulled up from over the side with crude instruments in a driving wind cooling the still wet bulb pulled out of the pail.

In truth, we have moderately accurate thermal records that aren't really global, but are at least sample a lot of the globe's surface exclusive of the bulk of the ocean for less than one century. We have accurate records - really accurate records - of the Earth's surface temperatures on a truly global basis for less than forty years. We have accurate records that include for the first time a glimpse of the thermal profile, in depth, of the ocean, that is less than a decade old and counting, and is (as Willis is pointing out) still highly uncertain no matter what silly precision is being claimed by the early analysts of the data. Even the satellite data - precise as it is, global as it is - is far from free from controversy, as the instrumentation itself in the several satellites that are making the measurements do not agree on the measured temperatures terribly precisely.

In the end, nobody really knows the global average temperature of the Earth's surface in 2011 within less than around 1K. If anybody claims to, they are full of shit. Perhaps - and a big perhaps it is - they know it more precisely than this relative to a scheme that is used to compute it from global data that is at least consistent and not crazy - but it isn't even clear that we can define the global average temperature in a way that really makes sense and that different instruments will measure the same way. It is also absolutely incredibly unlikely that our current measurements would in any meaningful way correspond to what the instrumentation of the 18th and 19th century measured and that is turned into global average temperatures, not within more than a degree or two.

This complicates things, given that a degree or two (K) appears to be very close to the natural range of variation of the global average temperature when one does one's best to compute it from proxy records. Things get more complicated still when all of the best proxy reconstructions in the world get turned over and turned out in favor of "tree ring reconstructions" based upon - if not biased by - a few species of tree from a tiny handful of sites around the world.

The argument there is that tree rings are accurate thermometers. Of course they aren't - even people in the business have confessed (in climategate letters, IIRC) that if they go into their own back yards and cut down trees and try to reconstruct the temperature of their own back yard based on the rings, it doesn't work. Trees grow one year because your dog fertilizes them, fail to grow another not because it is cold but because it is dry, grow poorly in a perfect year because a fungus attacks the leaves. If one actually plots tree ring thicknesses over hundreds of years, although there is a very weak signal that might be thermal in nature, there is a hell of a lot of noise - and many, many parts of the world simply don't have trees that survived to be sampled. Such as the 70% of the Earth's surface that is covered by the ocean.

But the complication isn't done yet - the twentieth century perhaps was a period of global warming - at least the period from roughly 1975 to the present where we have reasonably accurate records appears to have warmed a bit - but there were lots of things that made the 20th century, especially the latter half, unique. Two world wars, the invention and widespread use and testing of nuclear bombs that scattered radioactive aerosols throughout the stratosphere, unprecedented deforestation and last but far from least a stretch where the sun appeared to be far more active than it had been at any point in the direct observational record, and (via various radiometric proxies) quite possibly for over 10,000 years. It isn't clear what normal conditions are for the climate - something that historically appears to be nearly perpetually in a state of at least slow change, warming gradually or cooling gradually, punctuated with periods where the heating or cooling is more abrupt (to the extent the various proxy reconstructions can be trusted as representative of truly global temperature averages) - but it is very clear indeed that the latter 19th through the 20th centuries were far from normal by the standards of the previous ten or twenty centuries.

Yet on top of all of this confounding phenomena - with inaccurate and imprecise thermal records in the era of measurements, far less accurate extrapolations of the measurement era using proxies, with at most 30-40 years of actually accurate and somewhat reproducible global thermal measurements, most of it drawn from the period of a Grand Solar Maximum - climatologists have claimed to find a clear signal of anthropogenic global warming caused strictly by human-produced carbon dioxide. They are - it is claimed - certain that no other phenomena could be the proximate cause of the warming. They are certain when they predict that this warming will continue until a global catastrophe occurs that will kill billions of people unless we act in certain ways now to prevent it.

I'm not certain relativity is correct, but they are certain that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is a true hypothesis with precise predictions and conclusions. I have learned to doubt numerical simulations that I myself have written that are doing simple, easily understandable things that directly capture certain parts of physics. They are doing far, far more complex numerical simulations - the correct theoretical answer, recall, is a solution to a set of coupled non-Markovian Navier-Stokes equation with a variable external driver and still unknown feedbacks in a chaotic regime with known important variability on multiple decadal or longer timescales - and yet they are certain that their results are correct, given the thirty plus years of accurate global thermal data (plus all of the longer timescale reconstructions or estimates they can produce from the common pool of old data, with all of its uncertainties).

Look, here's how you can tell - to get back to your question. You compare the predictions of their "catastrophic" theory five, ten, twenty years back to the actual data. If there is good agreement, it is at least possible that they are correct. The greater the deviation between observed reality and their predictions, the more likely it is that their result is at least incorrect if not actual bullshit. That's all. Accurately predicting the future isn't proof that they are right, but failing to predict it is pretty strong evidence that they are wrong.

Such a comparison fails. It actually fails way back in the twentieth century, where it fails to predict or explain the cooling from 1945 to roughly 1965-1970. It fails to predict the little ice age. It fails to predict the medieval climate optimum, or the other periods in the last 10,000 years where the proxy record seems to indicate that the world was as warm or warmer than it is today. But even ignoring that - which we can, because those proxy reconstructions are just as doubtful in their own way as the tree-ring reconstructions, with or without a side-serving of confirmation bias to go with your fries - even ignoring that, it fails to explain the 33 or so years of the satellite record, the only arguably reliable measure of actual global temperatures humans have ever made. For the last third of that period, there has been no statistically significant increase in temperature, and it may even be that the temperature has decreased a bit from a 1998 peak. January of 2012 was nearly 0.1C below the 33 year baseline.

This behavior is explainable and understandable, but not in terms of their models, which predicted that the temperature would be considerably warmer, on average, than it appears to be, back when they were predicting the future we are now living. This is evidence that those models are probably wrong, that some of the variables that they have ignored in their theories are important, that some of the equations they have used have incorrect parameters, incorrect feedbacks. How wrong remains to be seen - if global temperatures actually decline for a few years (and stretch out the period with no increase still further in the process) - it could be that their entire model is fundamentally wrong, badly wrong. Or it could be that their models are partially right but had some of the parameters or physics wrong. Or it could even be that the models are completely correct, but neglected confounding things are temporarily masking the ongoing warming that will soon come roaring back with a catastrophic vengeance.

The latter is the story that is being widely told, to keep people from losing faith in a theory that isn't working - so far - the way that it should. And I have only one objection to that. Keep your hands off of my money while the theory is still unproven and not in terribly good agreement with reality!

Well, I have other objections as well - open up the debate, acknowledge the uncertainties, welcome contradictory theories, stop believing in a set of theoretical results as if climate science is some sort of religion. but we can start with shit-canning the IPCC and the entire complex arrangement of "remedies" to a problem that may well be completely ignorable and utterly destined to take care of itself long before it ever becomes a real problem.

No matter what, we will be producing far less CO_2 in 30 years than we are today. Sheer economics and the advance of physics and technology and engineering will make fossil-fuel burning electrical generators as obsolete as steam trains. Long before we reach any sort of catastrophe - assuming that CAGW is correct - the supposed proximate cause of the catastrophe will be reversing itself without anyone doing anything special to bring it about but make sensible economic choices.

In the meantime, it would be so lovely if we could lose one single phrase in the "debate". The CAGW theory is not "settled science". I'm not even sure there is any such thing.


Greenie people-hating never stops

There was a time in the '70s and 80s when psychologists saw misanthropy as a major form of maladjustment. With the rise of the Greenies you don't hear that much any more

Dr Philip Cafaro, who teaches on environmental philosophy and ethics at Colorado State University, has recently written a paper arguing that not just halting but actually reducing the number of people alive may well be necessary to stop global warming: "Ending human population growth is almost certainly a necessary (but not suf?cient) condition for preventing catastrophic global climate change. Indeed, signi?cantly reducing current human numbers may be necessary in order to do so."

Dr Cafaro goes on to argue that the threat of global warming means that any policy other than one which "significantly supports reducing the size of the current human population" simply cannot "pass ethical muster". Therefore: "We should support policies that limit human numbers, not just in the poor countries that are conventionally understood to be overpopulated, but in rich ones, where each additional person generates much larger amounts of greenhouse gases"

Dr Cafaro, perhaps a little paradoxically, portrays this as actually protecting people's rights. Such is the threat posed by global warming, apparently, that not only having children must be curtailed, but also buying stuff and consuming as well: "In order to protect the human rights to life, health and subsistence in the crowded world we have created, we must limit excessive consumption and excessive procreation. Both steps are necessary, since one without the other cannot solve the problem of growing emissions and rising temperatures"

So, it seems that according to Dr Cafaro, as well as "significantly reducing current human numbers" global warming also means that we can no longer be free to buy the car, TV, or computer we want. We have to limit such "excessive consumption" as well as our children. And not just people in the West, but also those irresponsible breeders in non-Western nations. As Dr Cafaro explains for our benefit: "Another way to put this point is that people who are overprocreating, wherever they live, are threatening the human rights of future people. In Bangladesh and Niger, overprocreators are creating people who are likely to suffer from extreme weather events, droughts, and lack of food in the decades to come"

Damn those selfish overprocreators! If only we could somehow reduce their numbers, ey? Dr Cafaro is so concerned about them he has written anti-immigration papers like "The Environmental Argument for Reducing Immigration to the United States" which is available on the website of the Center for Immigration Studies.

Well, we wouldn't want "the human rights of future people" (i.e. people who don't actually exist) to be threatened do we? Much better to significantly constrain our rights to buy what we want, eat what we want and have the number of children we want now than to possibly infringe on the sacred rights of the future people which Dr Cafaro and other environmental ethics professors are concerned about.



In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is pouring scorn on the Green/Left Lord Mayor of Sydney over her plans to get cars out of the CBD

Australian property developer may sue to trigger rethink on sea level rises

Warmist-inspired laws and regulations being tested in court! Could be fun

CRACKS are appearing in the state's response to rising sea levels, with one council facing potential legal action from a developer and other residents worried about planning controls and insurance risks.

Lake Macquarie Council recently updated its recommendations for about 10,000 people living up to three metres above the average sea level. All their properties could be exposed to inundation and increased flood risks by the end of the century, according to guidelines developed by the CSIRO.

But a property developer, Jeff McCloy, said he was contemplating leading a class action suit against the council, which he said was "falling for this unjustified, worldwide idiocy about sea level rises".

Mr McCloy recently arranged for climate change sceptics Ian Plimer, Bob Carter and David Archibald to address residents and councillors, and said the presentation seemed to convince many people there was nothing to worry about.

It comes as the NSW government reassesses its plans regarding sea level rises, including the possibility of a moratorium on sea level-related planning restrictions until more studies are done.

Mr McCloy is seeking to gain approval for a subdivision of 24 homes that is likely to be affected by the Lake Macquarie planning guidelines.

"This is not about me though; this is about the poor little property owner who had had hundreds of thousands of dollars knocked off the value of their property," Mr McCloy said.

He said he had studied sea level rise on the internet and concluded it was rising at only a very slow rate, and that rate had slowed in the past decade, so any planning restrictions were unjustified.

Lake Macquarie Council said its guidelines were based on rational science. "Our position is informed by the available evidence," said the council's sustainability manager, Alice Howe.

"In November last year we revised our policy in light of new flood-mapping, and we have written to all the affected residents," Dr Howe said. The area in question consists of a low-lying area near the lake that is expected to be partly submerged by the end of the century, a middle zone that could be affected by extreme weather and high tides, and an outer zone including areas up to three metres above sea level that could be affected by extreme events in 2100.

The mapping is based on coastal projections developed under the previous state government that used CSIRO studies to determine sea level heights as climate change intensifies in coming decades.

A committee chaired by the the Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, will review the coastal planning guidelines. "Establishing this task force is an important step in ensuring that NSW has the best arrangements in place to manage coastal erosion and other coastal hazards," a spokesman for the minister said.



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