At 73, former CSIRO engineer Denis Whitnall has seen many things — but rising sea levels isn’t one of them.
Looking out over the Pacific Ocean from the back of his waterfront property at Avoca, on the NSW central coast, Mr Whitnall shakes his head as he talks about a grim report commissioned by his local council in 1995 that predicted some houses along the beachfront, including his own, would be subject to flood risk. “The council had a town meeting and told everyone properties along the waterfront were going to be under threat,” Mr Whitnall said. “Everyone was aghast. Twenty feet (6m) of water is supposed to be covering my land (by 2015).”
Wow! That sounds serious. Let’s hope Nadin checks to see if the report really did say that. His story continues:
Hazard lines included in Gosford City Council’s 1995 coastal management plan, obtained by The Australian, forecast a threat of flood for some waterfront homes by 2015, due to a combination of shoreline movement from a rise in the sea level and major storm events.
But did it predict that Whitnall’s house would 6m underwater?
“The Avoca beach unit as a whole has been assessed as losing sand in the long term. This, together with sea level rise, will lead to shoreline retreat over time. Thus, the extent of severe storm erosion will move landward progressively over time,” the 1995 report says. However, 16 years after the release of the council’s warning, the shoreline remains about 100m from Mr Whitnall’s back door, where it was when his family acquired the property in 1951.
So Nadin implies that Gosford’s 1995 Coastal Management Plan predicted Whitnall’s home would be flooded. But look at what the very next sentence says:
The projected rates of retreat and erosion are summarised in Table 3.1.
And here’s Table 3.1:
So it predicted a 8 metre retreat in 20 years, or about 6m in 16 years. Which would mean that the shoreline would move from being about 100m from Whitnall’s house to … being about 100m from Whitnall’s house. The plan did not predict that Whitnall’s house would be under 6m of water by 2015. Even the projection of a 20m retreat by 2045 would leave the shoreline a long way from Whitnall’s place.
It is hard to believe that Nadin did not read the sentence following the one he quoted and that he was unaware that the Whitnall’s claim about what the report said was entirely false.
Nadin’s story continues:
Mr Whitnall said while the 1995 report had been discredited, Gosford was among 55 coastal NSW councils “at it again” by using “flawed” data to warn of possible floods. “The data council is using from the 2007 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report has been shrouded in controversy since its release,” he said.
This being a news story in The Australian comment from scientific experts on sea level changes is nowhere to be found.
Mitchell Nadin, I should note, has form when it comes to misrepresenting the science.
Update Nadin responds with:
I never said his land would be 6m underwater you fool.
the 1995 report it says with a major storm event, a portion of his land could be covered due to erosion and sea level rises.
and I have to say deltoid, you should probably clarify things like this with the author before smearing his name.