Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Dutch assessment of IPCC: “Overall the summary conclusions are considered well founded and none were found to contain any significant errors.”

By Joe Romm on July 5, 2010 at 11:51 am

"Dutch assessment of IPCC: “Overall the summary conclusions are considered well founded and none were found to contain any significant errors.”"

Share:

google plus icon

Dutch foresee much higher sea-level-rise risk than IPCC — and urge IPCC to “to pay attention to ‘worst-case scenarios’. “

Our findings do not contradict the main conclusions of the IPCC on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability related to climate change. There is ample observational evidence of natural systems being influenced by climate change on regional levels. The negative impacts under unmitigated climate change in the future pose substantial risks to most parts of the world, with risks increasing at higher global average temperatures.

The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) examined the Regional Chapters in the Working Group II portion of the 2007 Fourth Assessment.  Full 100 page report is here; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  comment is here.

Overall, as the BBC headline makes clear, “Dutch review backs UN climate science report.”  So, naturally, the Wall Street Journal headline on the report was, “Dutch Review Raises Concerns About Climate Report.”

Also, there is an effort to spin this report as showing the IPCC has some sort of a bias toward reporting negative impacts.  In fact the overwhelming majority of research since the IPCC has found that the IPCC has consistently underestimated many key current and future impacts, particularly sea level rise (and carbon-cycle feedbacks).The Dutch do find a bunch of “very small” errors and one or two medium-sized mistakes, but note:

Realistically speaking, a thousand-page assessment by hundreds of authors involving thousands of reviewers conducted within a limited timeframe could hardly be expected to be free of errors. Therefore, it is to be expected that some inaccuracies, insufficiently justified statements or other irregularities, escape even the most thorough drafting and review procedures.

Interestingly, the PBL actually takes blame for the mistake that actually triggered this review, as the BBC reports:

A furore erupted in the Netherlands over a different claim in AR4, namely that 55% of the country was vulnerable to flooding because it was situated below sea level.

The IPCC attributed the claim to PBL itself, to a report saying that 55% of the Netherlands was prone to flooding.

But that report said only 26% of the country was at risk because it lies below sea level, with the remainder affected by river flooding.

PBL now accepts the blame for the mistake lies within its own doors.

“We acknowledge that this error was not the fault of the IPCC… the error was made by a contributing author from the PBL, and the (co-ordinating) lead authors (of AR4 chapters) are not to blame for relying on Dutch information provided by a Dutch agency,” it said.

And so we have the AP headline — via FoxNews – “Dutch agency admits its mistake in UN report, but says climate change is already happening.”

Because it focuses on even the smallest of errors, the Dutch report makes some odd claims.  It finds fault with one numerical range in the IPCC that may not in fact have been in error.

The IPCC said that by the year 2020, between 75 million and 250 million Africans would be at risk of “water stress” (ie not having enough water). PBL says that based on the science available, the figures should be 90-220 million – but that the IPCC projections fit within the “range of uncertainty” in the science.However, Nigel Arnell, head of the Walker Centre at the University of Reading who led the water chapter in AR4, disputed the PBL assessment….

“I think the way in which it was projected with a wide range encapsulated the huge uncertainties, and we think that (narrowing it to) 90-220 million is an over-interpretation of the information that the chapter authors had at the time.”

The report also claims “Examples of negative impacts dominate at summary level.”  This is an interesting assertion, but while it may be true in some individual statements, it’s disputable as a sweeping generalization.  As I noted here — “The non-hype about climate change (and malaria)” — in the 16-page summary for WGII, here is everything the IPCC says on malaria under the Health Section:

Climate change is expected to have some mixed effects, such as a decrease or increase in the range and transmission potential of malaria in Africa. ** D [8.4]

It is hard to accuse that of being an overstatement of negative impacts

Of course, the UK’s Telegraph has jumped all over this, with “IPCC climate change report ‘played down positive impacts’.“  But, as the Dutch make clear, this approach was “approved by the governments that constitute the IPCC,” so it’s hard to accuse the IPCC of doing anything different than what the member governments asked to do.

The Dutch claim has been disputed already:

The Netherlands inquiry adds that the IPCC’s summaries tended to emphasise “worst-case scenarios”.

However, this was disputed by scientists who had played a leading role in AR4.

“The net impacts of climate change are not beneficial,” said David Vaughan, science leader at the British Antarctic Survey, who co-ordinated the AR4 chapter on polar impacts.

The BBC didn’t actually get this right.  If you follow the link the BBC gave to the PBL release, you’ll find this section:

Emphasis on serious, negative impacts

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency concluded that the summaries in the IPCC Working Group II Report put an emphasis on projections of the more serious, negative impacts of climate change. This selection was an obvious choice, and also had been approved by the governments that constitute the IPCC. However, this meant that the less severe impacts and any positive effects did not make it into the summaries for policymakers, which made the overall tenor of the summaries more negative than that of the underlying chapters. For example, the possibly positive consequences for forestry in North Asia are named in one of the chapters, but they are not named in the summaries.

In addition, the investigated 32 summary conclusions on regional impacts do not mention other factors that play an important role, such as the influence of population growth on water shortages. The PBL recommends to present a broader representation of projected developments in  the summaries for policy makers in the Fifth Assessment Reports in 2013 and 2014.

In recent years, more climate change literature has emerged on possible developments with small chances but with potentially large consequences. Therefore, the PBL recommends to pay attention to ‘worst-case scenarios’.

The PBL doesn’t want the IPCC to stop looking at worst-case scenarios.  Quite the reverse, it wants the IPCC to explicitly analyze worst-case scenarios, which is precisely what I’ve been saying for quite some time — see “The IPCC lowballs likely impacts with its instantly out-of-date reports and is clearly clueless on messaging “” should it be booted or just rebooted?

What the PBL does want is for the IPCC to have, “One section that describes the projected full range of climate-change impacts, including uncertainties, positive impacts, and the relative contributions from other important areas, such as industrialisation, population growth, and land use” and “One section that describes the most important negative impacts, including
a worst-case risk approach, based on a clearly explicated risk-assessment methodology.”  Great idea!

Indeed, on the crucial issues of sea level rise and carbon cycle feedbacks, the IPCC not only didn’t “Accentuate the negative” as the Economist tries to spin things, it largely ignored the negative and spun out best case scenarios.  Moreover, in a AAAS presentation this year, William R. Freudenburg of UC Santa Barbara discussed his research on “the Asymmetry of Scientific Challenge“:

New scientific findings are found to be more than twenty times as likely to indicate that global climate disruption is “worse than previously expected,” rather than “not as bad as previously expected.”

So the charge that the IPCC has a negative bias is patently false.  It appears that, to paraphrase Stephen Colbert, reality has a negative bias.

SEA LEVEL RISE

The most interesting part of this entire report, to me, is “Annex D Sea level rise: consequences for the Netherlands.”  Needless to say, the Dutch are worried about sea level rise.  So it’s no surprise that they’ve spent a lot of time looking at the risk — and no surprise they never entirely bought into the absurd low-ball estimate of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment (AR4) — see Scientists withdraw low-ball estimate of sea level rise “” media are confused and anti-science crowd pounces.

Annex D says:

When considering the possible sea level rise for the Netherlands, the most recent estimates on sea level rise for the Netherlands cover a range of 35 to 85 cm for 2100 (KNMI, 2006), or in case of high-end/worst-case estimates, the rise is between 130 cm (Deltacommissie, 2008) and 150 cm (PBL, 2007).

Note that even the old 2006 Dutch estimate exceeded the 2007 IPCC’s high scenario of 26 to 59 cm SLR.  Annex D continues:

In 2007, in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the PBL explored plausible future extreme sea level rise scenarios for the Netherlands and – based on paleoclimatological data – estimated a worst-case sea level rise of 1.5 m/century (PBL, 2007). Given the technical adaptive capacity of the Netherlands and the considered safety margins, the PBL concluded that, with the available techniques, the delta region of the Netherlands could be kept safe even in case of such an extreme sea level rise, but that in the long term, spatial measures could be required (PBL, 2007). In 2008, the Dutch Delta committee (Deltacommissie) presented a high-end estimate on sea level rise of between 65 and 130 cm for 2100, based on a temperature-rise scenario of 6 degrees, and also concluded that technically the delta region of the Netherlands could protect itself against flooding (Deltacommissie 2008). The maximum ranges for sea level rise given by the IPCC (2007) and the KNMI (2006), were based on scenarios with a maximum of 4 degrees temperature rise. A 6-degree temperature rise thus exceeds the 4-degree scenario of the IPCC, but still lies within the total range of uncertainty

Ironically, while the Dutch urge the IPCC to focus on worst-case scenarios, they haven’t really done so themselves — see “Sea levels may rise 3 times faster than IPCC estimated, could hit 6 feet by 2100 (which is the source of this figure):

http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Projected-sea-level-rise.gif

The notion that the worst-case scenario for sea level rise is 1.5 m/century is now, I think, patently absurd.  Also, it confuses the amount of sea level rise we might see this century, with what the rate of sea level rise would have to be in 2100 to make that possible.

The plausible worst-case scenario for SLR by 2100 is much closer to 2 meters, as Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (and coauthor of the research behind the above figure) confirmed with me by e-mail today (see also “Startling new sea level rise research: “Most likely” 0.8 to 2.0 meters by 2100“).  And that would mean a much higher rate of sea level rise in 2100 than 1/5 m/century.  The 2-meter estimate does presuppose that we are assuming no significant possibility of a major collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

This is a complicated subject and this post is already long enough, so I’ll come back to it shortly.

The bottom line of the Dutch report is clear:

  1. “The main conclusions of the IPCC on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability related to climate change” stand:  “There is ample observational evidence of natural systems being influenced by climate change on regional levels. The negative impacts under unmitigated climate change in the future pose substantial risks to most parts of the world, with risks increasing at higher global average temperatures.”
  2. The IPCC should focus more explicitly on worst-case scenarios.
  3. While some parts of the IPCC summaries emphasize negative impacts — as the governments have asked them to — as a whole, the IPCC reports are conservative documents as more recent research confirms.

Tags:

‹ PREVIOUS
Bipartisan economists: Legislation Beats Regulation

NEXT ›
We’re having a heat wave. New daily high temperature records beat new cold records by nearly 5 to 1 in June

36 Responses to Dutch assessment of IPCC: “Overall the summary conclusions are considered well founded and none were found to contain any significant errors.”

  1. Peter Mizla says:

    The WSJ aka Fox News naturally will ring out the pro corporate spin.

    The Dutch and their mostly below sea level nation is facing a serious challenge with rising sea levels. Considering that they have built against the north sea for centuries is exemplary- the challenges for the future are if 65% of the country is not submerged by 2100.

  2. fj2 says:

    This is why Lovins’ RMI Factor 10 development strategy is most important addressing both natural and human capital and rapidly accelerating technology tracks at http://www.10xe.org/

    “When a relative scarcity of labor limited our progress in extracting resources, the first industrial revolution made labor 100 times more productive. Now that nature is scarce the next innovation revolution can raise natural resource productivity 10- to 100-fold.

    “Factor Ten Engineering (10xe) aims to accelerate this paradigm shift, by providing engineers with a tangible guideline to whole-system thinking to enable radical efficiency gains. The initiative will engage academia and industry to help transform engineering pedagogy and practice, unleashing the next wave of engineering innovation that our world and we truly need.”

  3. mike roddy says:

    There are bicycle traffic jams in the Netherlands, and their carbon footprint is low relative to GDP- and happiness index high.

    I’d like to see the Dutch show diplomatic leadership here, since the consequences they face from sea level rise could be so devastating. Not only did they point out the conservative figures from IPCC IV, their own numbers are on the low side too. How can you not factor melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?

  4. JeandeBegles says:

    As a non specialist I appreciate all your post, specially the humoristic gap between the the factual data and the title of some newspapers…
    I agree that SLR is the major issue, because this threat is quite obvious to be understood by the average people and even by a politician.
    SLR can be the driver for the great change toward a low carbon society.
    I don’t understand your (nearly) last sentence “this presuppose that there will not be any collapse of the WAS”: because if there will be such collapse the SLR will be higher than 2 meters?
    Anyway, with a CO2 concentration higher than 400 ppm, aren’t we doomed to an ice free planet with 70 meters SLR as stated by Jim Hansen? 2100 is an intesting passage point, but the SLR will keep on raising after 2100.

  5. MapleLeaf says:

    Excellent review Dr. Romm.

    For once BBC did an OK job, except for their error about the focus on worst-case scenarios.

    On another thread people were talking about how bad the BBC has been on the AGG/ACC file. I would concur. Back in November/December during the SwiftHack/ClimateGate fiasco, the BBC forums were inundated with very aggressive and vocal “skeptics”/conspiracy theorists. Several of them were accusing the BBC of threatening to cover up the affair and apparently did follow though on their threats to report the BBC. Since the beginning of 2010, the spin and perspective of the BBC stories has definitely shifted to give undue weight to those skeptical of the IPCC and/or AGW/ACC– even going to far to give limelight to the likes of McIntyre, Pielke Jnr and Lomborg. Of late, some of their reporting has been simply abysmal, with the anti science and IPCC spin clearly evident. So this story is better, but they have a lot to make up for.

  6. fj2 says:

    3. mike roddy, “leadership”

    Yes, the biggest and most capable stakeholders may likely show the best leadership.

    China seems to have continued success on an enormous scale staring down the demons of contemporary civilization: including health care, population growth, extreme poverty, and now accelerating environmental devastation forced by climate change.

  7. Ben Lieberman says:

    @ Mike, while the Netherlands is obviously not most responsible for the climate crisis, what do citizens of a comparatively small nation see as their options for getting those countries that are most responsible to lead?

  8. George Ennis says:

    Unfortunately, I seriously doubt even the dutch have the engineering capability and related financial resources to build a dike (or call it what you will ) against sea level rises beyond the worst case scenarios being shown after 2100. Keep in mind it takes decades to build such infrastructure from design to completion.

  9. BillD says:

    I recently spent 6 months working in a Dutch scientific institute. I recall a well-imformed Dutch colleague saying that a 1 m sea level rise was about the maximum that could be dealt with withous losing most of the country. I expect that a severe storm combined with even a much smaller sea level rise might cause severe damage in The Netherlands.

  10. fj2 says:

    8. George Ennis, “financial resources to build a dike”

    Molecular-strength materials 100 to 200 times the strength of steel per weight promise to greatly reduce the financial resources, energy, and emissions required for rapid deployment of scale-suitable mitigating and adapting built environments including transportation vehicles and infrastructures.

    Unfortunately, current projected commercialization of this sort of carbon nanotube and graphene technology capable of replacing steel, concrete, and glass is about mid-century 2050 AD.

    It may be possible to speed up the process.

  11. Dennis says:

    @George
    The Dutch are able to build higher dikes against the sea, but eventually the rivers will end below sea-level.
    2-3 meters will be possible with higher dikes and more room for rivers. Lets hope it will not get pass that.

  12. Peter Mizla says:

    Holland, like other low lying nations could be underwater by mid century-looking at the geography- Amsterdam, Rotterdam & Utrecht are below sea level- a rise of 1 meter will flood them- storms will add to their misery. The only regions that may be without being inundation are east and south to the German and Belgium border. The cities of Nijmegen & Arnhem will likely have waves lapping at their front steps.

  13. Dennis says:

    @BillD
    Th following is from the site of Deltares an independent research institute for water, soil and subsurface issues.

    “Coastal areas are at increasing risk through the rise in the sea level
    If coastal areas do not arm themselves against the rising sea, they are running increasing risks because of the rising of the sea level. The KNMI considers the probability to be small that the sea level at the Dutch coast will rise by more than 85 cm by 2100 in comparison with 1990. However, even if it were to rise this century by one to one and a half meters, then the increase can be controlled by extra sand supplementation to the coast, adaptations to the sea dikes and innovations such as wave-resistant dikes.
    A rise in the sea level of 2 to 3 meters over the coming centuries can be dealt with easily by sand supplementation and higher dikes. In this timescale river widening and dikes are still the solution to the rise in sea level and higher river discharge. In any case we will then have to look at the areas where the problem of higher river discharge and a rising sea level are combined. These are the lower reaches of the Rhine and Meuse (in particular the areas around Rotterdam-Dordrecht) and Lake Ijssel (where higher Ijssel discharge can be less easily drained into Lake Wadden (Waddenzee).”
    http://factsandfiction.deltares.nl/headlines/sea-rise

  14. mike roddy says:

    Ben Lieberman, #7, that’s a good question, and I don’t know the answer.
    Citizens of the Maldives seem to at least be getting some kind of a response to their predicament, including pledges to accept their refugees. In Holland, though, the problem is obviously a lot bigger- more people, buildings, and historic treasures will be overwhelmed.

    The US and other major emitters are obviously not interested in being guilt tripped into doing anything. That means that the Dutch may have to go to the World Court and pursue claims, which is conveniently located in The Hague. This could only really take shape when there is a jump in sea level from glacier melting in Greenland or possibly part of WAS. Maybe now is the time for them to prepare their case, though.

    Remember, the World Court has made some pretty independent decisions, and won’t be easily muscled by countries like the US and Canada. Limbaugh and company of course will go berserk: how dare international socialists tell us to slow down our use of private jets and mansions, etc. But I believe that as things get more serious it will come to this. Entrenched fossil fuel industries will fight to the end, including continued bribery of Congressmen and media outlets. That means that symmetrical responses are called for.

  15. Lore says:

    fj2 #6:

    “China seems to have continued success on an enormous scale staring down the demons of contemporary civilization: including health care, population growth, extreme poverty, and now accelerating environmental devastation forced by climate change.”

    In my personal view, things in China and the rest of the world won’t change until we shift the rhetoric and more importantly our actions from super sizing our lives to downsizing them.

    Published: July 4, 2010

    “China Fears Consumer Impact on Global Warming

    Premier Wen Jiabao has promised to use an “iron hand” this summer to make his nation more energy efficient. The central government has ordered cities to close inefficient factories by September, like the vast Guangzhou Steel mill here, where most of the 6,000 workers will be laid off or pushed into early retirement.

    Already, in the last three years, China has shut down more than a thousand older coal-fired power plants that used technology of the sort still common in the United States. China has also surpassed the rest of the world as the biggest investor in wind turbines and other clean energy technology. And it has dictated tough new energy standards for lighting and gas mileage for cars.

    But even as Beijing imposes the world’s most rigorous national energy campaign, the effort is being overwhelmed by the billionfold demands of Chinese consumers.

    Chinese and Western energy experts worry that China’s energy challenge could become the world’s problem — possibly dooming any international efforts to place meaningful limits on global warming.

    If China cannot meet its own energy-efficiency targets, the chances of avoiding widespread environmental damage from rising temperatures “are very close to zero,” said Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency in Paris.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/05/business/global/05warm.html?_r=2&ref=earth

  16. fj2 says:

    15. Lore, “shift the rhetoric”

    Based on its track record China seems best positioned to deal with the consumption issue as well.

    In transportation alone it currently has 430 million cyclists and 120 million using electric bikes which run at less than 1% the footprint of transportation systems based on cars. Taking this rather simple technology to the logical conclusion would result in infrastructure footprints many times less than 1% those of transportation systems based on cars at minimal cost, emissions, and a huge amount of “found” energy for virtually free; which they have just started investigating with the world’s largest public bike system and elevated urban walkways and bikeways.

    This is not rhetoric they are doing this just like they took 1000 legacy coal plants offline in 3 years.

  17. Off topic but Joe, When is your book going to be available for my iPad??

    Dan

  18. Lore says:

    fi2 #16

    China is now also the biggest auto market in the world. A rather dubious honor. Most of these vehicles are still fossil fuel driven. Over 14 million cars are being produced locally there. This is now more then the US auto makers produce and sell. In the last decade 50% of all motor vehicles (cars and trucks) in China had been purchased by individuals and this number is growing rapidly.

    I believe the concern of the Chinese and Western energy experts is that any retirement of older coal plants and inefficient factories for even more newer ones will not balance or offset the increased growth in other energy intensive and polluting consumptive items.

    Bicycles not withstanding, most everyone there dreams of riding around in a Buick. It’s not the bicycle riding legacy of the past the population wants, or is being told it needs.

  19. fj2 says:

    19. Lore, “newer ones will not balance or offset the increased growth in other energy intensive and polluting consumptive items.”

    There is only so much stuff that can be put in a ten pound bag.

    China is running out of environment probably faster than anyone and production of this devastating stuff will have to level off very soon.

  20. fj2 says:

    History or legend has it that a number of the early Spanish explorers were so greedy after gold in the Caribbean that they forgot to learn to live off the land and farm and many starved to death.

    China is a multi-millennia civilization and it is fairly clear that Chinese leaders know better.

  21. Richard Brenne says:

    Back to The Netherlands, since this was a Dutch report about their national concerns. (Good points about China, but maybe best made when a Chinese post appears, as I’m sure one will soon.)

    George (#8) and BillD (#9) – Great points, I agree, well said.

    fj2 (#10) – I’m sorry but I don’t see how molecular-strength materials will aid building veritable mountain ranges to hold out the sea.

    Dennis (#14) – That report read like a chamber of commerce wishathon to me. “A rise in the sea level of 2 to 3 meters over the coming centuries can be dealt with easily. . .” is exactly our species unique hubris that created this mess.

    I love the Netherlands but as one Dutch scientist described it, most of it is a bathtub just waiting to be filled.

    It is up to 23 feet below sea level, with the Amsterdam airport and several other places 13 feet below sea level, “So in the likely event of a water landing. . .”

    As JeandeBegles (#4) so eloquently points out, the world won’t end in 2100 (well, maybe) and sea level will continue to rise. Since the primary range from all the coldest parts of the ice age to the warmest interglacials was from 180 ppm of CO2 to 280 ppm (at the highest 300) and we’ve raised CO2 110 ppm and CO2 equivalency over 150 ppm to over 430 ppm (counting methane, nitrous oxide and land use like deforestation), it seems logical to assume that we’re guaranteed sea level rise until there’s no ice left on Earth, especially with business as usual, and this is up to a few hundred foot sea level rise.

    As Jim Hansen has also pointed out, 14,000 years ago sea levels rose 5 meters a century, or 20 inches a decade, or 2 inches a year.

    It seems quite possible that sea level rise could climb to that rate, we just don’t know when.

    In the shorter term, there are other factors, all of them bad for The Netherlands despite their epic accomplishments when sea level rise was static for centuries and has risen 8 inches in the last century.

    Most of their engineering has been accomplished with cheap and abundant oil, and that’s going away.

    Sea level is relative to the rising or lowering of the coastline. Here in Oregon, much of the Oregon coast is rising due to the subduction of the Pacific under the North American plate. Glacial rebound in Canada, Scotland and most of Scandinavia means that many of these places are rising faster than the current rate of sea level rise, often significantly. Finland adds 2.7 miles of land mass a year because of this (a good friend of mine is the U.S. Ambassador to Finland, something I’ve pointed out is not that impressive, but is getting slightly more impressive each year).

    Unfortunately for The Netherlands – and I have many Dutch friends, including an oven – most of the Netherlands is subsiding as many areas are south of the areas of greatest glacial rebound, including most of Southern England (giving a talk at Cambridge I’d conclude by saying, “Maybe you want to amend that ‘There will always be an England’ thing to the more accurate, ‘There will always be a Scotland.’”) and the Chesapeake Bay region of the U.S.

    Then there is further subsidence from pumping out saltwater and freshwater and natural gas, and not allowing the Rhine and other rivers to regenerate the polders with silt, and removing peat, and peat losing water, etc.

    The Netherlands is essentially Southern Louisiana without the drawl.

    This is not what any of us want, but it is what is.

  22. fj2 says:

    22. Richard Brenne,

    “fj2 (#10) don’t see how molecular strength materials will help build mountain ranges to keep out the sea”

    They will help 100 to 200 times better. One million to two million tons of material instead of 100 to 200 million tons. That is a big difference.

    Also, it’s possible they’d use less energy and may be produced on-site which may have some advantage.

    Wind turbine blades etc., would also be a lot stronger and larger etc, maybe even suitable for tropical cyclones and tornados; transport and manufacturing costs a lot less, etc.; lots of other stuff including much more powerful batteries per weight which have been reported being in the works and perhaps ready for market soon.

  23. fj2 says:

    23. fj (continued),

    A lot easier to float this stuff to site as it would also be 100 to 200 times lighter than wood per equivalent strength.

  24. TAFL says:

    I support #22 Richard on this. There is no saving The Netherlands as we know it. When you approach coastal flood protection investments of 20-30 thousand dollars/year/person for a period of 10-20 years, it makes more sense to move the affected people to higher ground. There is plenty of room for them in Scandanavia and eastern Europe.

  25. fj2 says:

    24. fj2 continued,

    Huge sailing vessels may be able to kite surf and go quite fast.

    Recently, with son and daughter on board, Richard Branson tried to break the transatlantic record with a mere 99-foot carbon fiber mono-hull sailing in front of hurricane-force winds.

  26. Richard Brenne says:

    fj2, not to be cynical, but while technology definitely has an important place, it is not the God that we have made it.

    In fact thinking technology alone will solve all the problems technology has created is like drinking to forget one is a drunk.

    I hope you’re right and I’m wrong, but I fear for The Netherlands future, at least after they beat Uruguay today.

    And if we all had the ego and carbon footprint of Richard Branson (and the two are strongly correlated), maybe we should just cut to the chase and push the doomsday machine button now.

  27. fj2 says:

    don’t worry about the dutch they are rich highly educated and can take care of themselves. the 2 billion (invisible) chronic poor need our help and are the most vulnerable.

  28. fj2 says:

    human capital is by far the greatest resource and you have my condolences if you decide to lay down and die before the fight begins.

  29. Dennis says:

    @25 TAFL
    20-30 thousand dollars/year/person is indeed too much, but where did you get these numbers?
    I have found 771 million euros for a rise of 1.5 meters. This is less than 50 euros per person per year.
    http://translate.google.nl/translate?hl=nl&sl=nl&tl=en&u=http://stiens.streekmedia.nl/2007/10/20/dnb-voorziet-hoge-kosten-voor-dijken/

  30. TAFL says:

    Hi Dennis @#30. From “Working together with water: A living land builds for its future. Findings of the Deltacommissie 2008. Summary and conclusions”
    “In the Delta Committee’s view we should anticipate a sea level rise of 0.65 to 1.3 m in 2100 and from 2 to 4 m in 2200. This includes the effects of land subsidence. These values represent possible upper bounds; it is sensible to work with them so that the decisions made and the measures adopted will be sustainable over the long term, set against the background of what we can possibly expect.”
    My comment: this is no longer an upper bound estimate of sea level rise by 2100. An upper bound estimate is probably over 2 meters by 2100. There is solid paleoclimatic evidence of 5 meter rise in sea level per century, lasting several centuries. So with runaway cryosphere melting, fixing the flood protection design at 1.5 meters at 2100 is meaningless.

    “Implementation of the Delta Programme until 2050 involves a cost of 1.2 to 1.6 billion euros per annum, and 0.9 to 1.5 billion euros per annum in the period 2050–2100. Coastal flood protection in the Delta Programme is mainly achieved by beach nourishments. If this method is intensified so that the coasts of the Netherlands grow say 1 km in a seawards direction, thus creating new land for such functions as recreation and nature, it will involve an additional cost of 0.1 to 0.3 billion euros per annum.”

    My comment: This is about 200 Euros/year/person, much closer to your estimate. But again it is not a meaningful estimate if your models tell you that the sea level will continue rise at a faster pace, and the cost of flood protection will rise non-linearly with this. It will soon become clear that further investment in flood protection will be futile.

  31. Dennis says:

    Hi TAFL,
    I agree, when we have 5 meters rise per century, all resistance is futile.
    Lets hope it can be avoided.
    BTW, the public in the Netherlands is not at all aware of these worst-case-scenarios.

  32. mike roddy says:

    Richard Brenne, #22: excellent post! I agree that most of Holland is a goner. Their people have been to passive, and they should become de facto leaders in the fight against CO2 pollution. Plenty of us here will follow, and maybe we can use this bridge to build others- like what McKibben has done with 350.org.

    As a builder, I can say that the notion of a high tech material that is 100-200 times stronger than steel is not that relevant to holding back water. This task is going to be a function of mass and anchoring to the ground. That’s why dams and foundations are built of concrete and not carbon fiber.

  33. The Australian newspaper – like the WSJ another News Limited paper – runs true to form and spins the Dutch report to kick the IPCC. Under the headline, “UN’s climate report ‘one-sided’” the article begins:

    “THE IPCC’s report on climate change failed to make clear it often presented a worst-case scenario on global warming, an investigation has found.

    A summary report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on regional impacts focused on the negative consequences of climate change and failed to make clear that there would also be some benefits of rising temperatures.

    The report adopted a ‘one-sided’ approach that risked being interpreted as an ‘alarmist view’ …”

    Buried at the end of the article – obviously so that it cannot be accused of (literal) inaccuracy – is a single paragraph acknowledging:

    “The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which published the results of its investigation yesterday, concluded that the IPCC’s main findings were justified and climate change did indeed pose substantial risks.”

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/uns-climate-report-one-sided/story-e6frg6so-1225888714749

  34. Richard Brenne says:

    fj2 (#28) – You have a good point here about the poorest two billion, I completely agree that we all need to care about them and for them infinitely more than we are.

    But I don’t like false choices. Just because I care about the poorest doesn’t mean I can’t care for the Dutch as well. Their contributions to art, architecture, reclaiming land, sailing, soccer, speed skating, bicycle transportation and many other things I care about are world-class. While I might care more about Bangladesh because of its larger population, the Dutch should be leading all developed nations in the fight against global warming, as Mike Roddy points out.

    Your Richard Branson sailing a carbon fiber sailboat across the Atlantic sets an all-time CP record for non-sequiturs, unless Branson is going to sail his carbon fiber sailboat and entomb it and himself in a Dutch dike, which anyone who saw his record-setting arrogance and spoiled brattishness on the Colbert Report would undoubtedly recommend.

    And talking about any of us here as lying down and dying before fighting about climate change is maybe the single stupidest and most offensive comment I’ve seen on CP out of thousands. I’d put what Leif, Mike, Jeff, Gail, Richard and others here are doing to fight climate change up against just about anyone I know in addition to Hansen, McKibben, Romm, etc.

    I’d suggest looking at the logic of Mike Roddy’s last post, and in fact all his posts – in addition to the others I mention he’s become the gold standard among commenters here and anywhere. You can and do make good comments and links, fj2, but your comments with numbers #26, #28 and especially #29 aren’t up to your usual standards.

  35. The presentation for the press conference gives the rundown of the report in a quick to read way. ( http://pbl.nl/images/PBL%20presentation%20Press%20conference%20IPCC_5JUL2010_web_tcm61-48129.pdf )

    About the risk oriented approach (in which negative impacts are accentuated) it sais:

    Present full spectrum of regional impacts (2nd recommendation)

    The risk approach is as such certainly justifiable:
    - Politics want to be informed of possible threats and disruptions
    - Society able to handle positive change, but in case of negative change, policy reaction is often required
    - Positive and negative consequences cannot be added up (e.g. New agricultural opportunities in country X do little good in country Y)

    Extend risk approach:
    1. Indicate role of factors other than those of climate change, also include any positive impacts
    2. Indicate ‘worst-case’ risks – small or unknown chances, large consequences

    This leads to more balanced overview of regional impacts on water, food, health, coastal zones and ecosystems