Why Transmission Gully doesn’t stack up

This is a cross-post from The Daily Blog, originally published Tuesday 5 November, 2013.

John Key announced last week that the Government would be signing the contract and starting construction on Transmission Gully before the next election. Talkback hosts and people who listen to them reacted with jubilation. Finally! A four lane expressway from the airport to Levin.

Although this project has been talked about for a long time, that doesn’t make it the best use of a huge amount of public money in the 21st century. Traffic volumes have been falling along the route for the past few years, as vehicle trips per capita have been declining across New Zealand and other comparable countries.

This is entirely unsurprising. I co-authored a report for the NZTA in 2008 called Managing Transport Challenges as Oil Prices Rise. We predicted (correctly) that high oil prices would reduce people’s ability to travel by car and reduce the amount of disposable income they had to spend in the local economy.

As oil prices bit into purchasing power, the economy slowed (globally and locally). Immediately after the GFC, oil prices collapsed – but not for long. Petrol has been back at record prices in New Zealand, and that’s with our dollar relatively high.

So, commuting long distance and moving goods by road isn’t as popular as it once was. People are reducing trips, car-pooling, looking to live closer to work or work closer to home, and looking for energy-efficient alternatives like rail. Fuel-efficient vehicles haven’t magically materialised and replaced the entire fleet, because most people can’t afford to rush out and buy a new car.

Oil prices aren’t the only factor. An ageing population, changing consumer preferences, the need to respond to climate change, and the high costs of car-dependence are all reasons to think building new roads isn’t the best way to meet future travel needs.

I’ve heard the road north of Wellington is a mess, so it inevitably has to be replaced. I have driven it at various times of day and never encountered a problem, but as I avoid driving whenever possible, I’m not a regular user of the route. The commuters and businesses who use it every day would probably have a few stories to tell. But building a new road isn’t a good way to deal with peak congestion. Queues are caused by a relatively small number of vehicles. You know how traffic is free-flowing during school holidays? A reduction of about 5-10% of cars can result in free flowing conditions. This is why it makes a lot more sense to provide incentives and alternatives to a small number of commuters to free up the roads for those who need to drive. It’s MASSIVELY cheaper and more effective than building a duplicate highway in challenging terrain.

If we spend billions making it cheaper and easier to drive, more people will drive. And then train services get cut because not enough people are using them, so even more people have to drive even if they’d rather not. Eventually all these cars and trucks have to get off the new highway and onto city streets. And BOOM!  We’ve got the same massive traffic problems in Wellington that Auckland has been suffering from for decades. Ironically, in the name of reducing congestion, the Government is subsidising vehicles to travel long distance.

Because it’s been difficult to make the economics of the project stack up, the Government is selling earthquake fears as the imperative for the acceleration of the project.

But if we have billions to spend on making Wellington resilient to earthquakes, wouldn’t it be better spent on existing buildings and contingency planning for sea and air access? The road network is only as good as the weakest link, and motorways can’t move large volumes of people in a hurry, so it’s quite vulnerable to disruption to all the other roads. Not to mention TG crosses two fault lines and will have 29 bridges over extremely challenging terrain. Invincible? Yeah, just like the Titanic, I’m sure it will be a miraculous and infallible feat of human engineering.

More to the point, if we’re spending billions on reducing risks, how about the much more immediate, pressing and certain risk of sustained high oil prices to the country? Or of highly car-dependent transport system to health and safety of all New Zealanders?

Bizarrely, John Key said on the radio “155 people a year lose their lives on that stretch of road” (right after saying that the Greens were stupid…) In fact the total fatalities on the entire Wellington Northern Corridor route were 18 for the five year period from January 2008 – December 2012.

Fatal & Serious Crashes

So that’s about 1 fatal crash per year on “that stretch of road”, not 155 deaths.

Which is not to say it’s okay that 18 people lost their lives on the road – but we can save more lives spending the same amount of money on a much larger number of transport improvements, including targeted improvements to this route.  The very data cited in NZTA’s latest assessment of the Wellington RoNS to justify the safety benefits of Transmission Gully shows that the route has already shifted from medium risk to low risk over the last five years in terms of fatalities per kilometre travelled, while SH2 from Featherston to Upper Hutt is high risk.

The project is outdated and has a large opportunity cost.  It’s money that won’t be available to spend on transport projects with greater benefits. Wellingtonians of a certain age seem to be completely convinced it will save the region, but all the evidence from around the world shows that urban highways aggravate traffic, result in people travelling longer distances and having to spend more money just to get around. That’s not good for the economy, and it will diminish Wellington’s natural character and advantages as a compact, public transport friendly region.

Of course, the worst part about the project is not that we’ll be spending $1 billion on a highway that will only be used by 0.2% of daily vehicle trips, which would be better spent on reliable trains, frequent buses, safe walking and cycling, and smart safety improvements to a lot more roads. It’s that we’ll be spending $3 billion it. For no additional benefit to anyone but the private overseas investors.

– See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/11/05/why-transmission-gully-doesnt-stack-up/#sthash.n5dMyAwN.dpuf

34 thoughts on “Why Transmission Gully doesn’t stack up

  1. Everything the nats touch ends up a shambles and huge waste of money,and this is their latest.

    And yet again Key lies ……. “Bizarrely, John Key said on the radio “155 people a year lose their lives on that stretch of road” (right after saying that the Greens were stupid…) In fact the total fatalities on the entire Wellington Northern Corridor route were 18 for the five year period from January 2008 – December 2012.”

    I suppose when he never gets pulled up on his previous lies it just encourages to spit out the next one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7 (-1)

  2. Key govt is signning away as many big contracts away as possible; those contracts/deals were never about being sensible or logical or benefitial to the general public…as their reasoning/excuses never stand…
    Haven’t we figured out WHY???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7 (-2)

  3. That table of fatal crashes is a table of, well, fatal crashes, not fatalities. Admittedly, I can’t see 18 fatal crashes in 5 years translating to 155 deaths per year but Julie should have checked that. I’m also not sure what that typo was meant to be (“It’s that we’ll be spending $3 billion it.”)

    The argument that this might result in worse city congestion seems far fetched but the other arguments are reasonable. However, when one considers why oil prices have remained high (the easy oil has peaked), a further argument is that oil will become scarce as well as expensive. It’s just a matter of time, but this governments, like most governments, ignore realities in favour of dreams of how they’d like reality to be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  4. The earthquake-proofing argument seems to be a piece of sleight-of-hand to sell the project to people outside the Wellington region who aren’t looking too closely. Aside from the issues on the route, this project funnels traffic heading to Wellington back on to the present SH1 just as it enters the most earthquake-prone section of the highway – Ngauranga Gorge and the Ngauranga foreshore, the latter right alomg the main Wellington fault, low-lying and a maze of elevated sections and bridges, and the former steep and surrounded by steep rocky slopes.

    Its conceivable that an earthquake could knock out SH1 and miraculously leave Transmission Gulley and the entrance to Wellington unscathed – earthquakes are strange little beasties – but its incredibly unlikely. It’s a bit like going skateboarding with no helmet and only a left-leg knee pad and just hoping that that’s where you’ll fall.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 (+3)

  5. This is a wrong argument. Of course Key lies. He does THAT for practice, but that’s not the problem.

    The problem is that we are going to have a situation within the next century, in which SH1 is essentially impassable at high tide if there is a storm and possibly whether there is a storm or not. That makes a fair few places along the coast unreachable, or uninhabitable as well as rendering the Capital dependent on reaching the rest of the country by boat. Period.

    The rising water will also render a fair few places where people currently live uninhabitable as well as inaccessible. The need for a new ROUTE out of the capital, at some elevations greater than 3 meters above MHW, is important. It is not important to save lives or reduce congestion. We’ve made those arguments and people have judged and misjudged the need for the Gully route for decades as a result.

    This is one of those areas where I break with the party orthodoxy.

    Greens are WRONG on this… there is a very very GOOD reason to build TG and it has to do with climate change and adaptation, and if you think we can avoid this problem by being pure and green and wonderful you are becoming part of the problem. Fact is that despite the lies of John Key he is, in getting the Gully road started, doing the right thing. All the wrong reasons but I am not interested in that. I am interested in making the country remain livable over the next 200-300 years , and that means that we need the new Route and the new areas where housing can be built that result from it… BEFORE the old road goes completely under water!

    respectfully
    BJ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5 (+2)

  6. Except that the new route doesn’t solve the problem you mention, BJ. Once again, there’s no new route on the Ngauranga foreshore. The route is higher than SHI in parts – along the Tawa hills and Transmission Gully itself – but not around Pauatahanui. Its mostly higher in the areas where SH1 is fairly high already, the only exception being the Centennial Highway section between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki.

    And while I’m all for planning ahead, the assumption that building a new road now is the best solution to sea level rise in 50-100 years time seems a bit over the top. We have no idea what technological options will be available by then, we don’t know if anybody much will be driving, we don’t know where the population centres will be, we don’t know if Wellington will remain a commercial and administrative centre (if it loses the airport and current CBD to sea level rise, the answer is probably not).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3 (+1)

  7. bj,

    I can’t seem to find good info on the elevation of SH1 around Wellington but if there are a few places where it is, say, less than 5 metres, could those portions not be amended at all? Building a completely new multi-lane highway on the basis that Wellington would be suddenly cut off in a future society that looks something like the present one, within 200-300 years, seems like a far-fetched argument.

    Yeah, it would be nice if the right things were done, even for the wrong reasons, but can you really think of no better use of this 1-3 billion dollars, especially given the resource use and environmental destruction that would accompany it?

    In any case, as Sam said, we just don’t know what options a future Wellington region will have or what it will need, over the next century or three, or whether the problems you envisage with sea level rise will actually turn out to be problems.

    Key seems to think the future will just be an extrapolation of the past, for ever (apart from climate change, of course).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 (+3)

  8. It is not just a question of sea level rise. Storm surges (like Sandy) lift the sea level temporarily. Strong winds cause the waves to be bigger and crash over the road. Climate change could increase both the peak wind strengths and the storm surge height.

    For protection from waves, distance from shore is more important than height. Transmission Gully being further inland should offer more protection.

    Trevor.

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  9. Roads can be closed temporarily for all sorts of reasons.

    A report by the New Zealand Transport Agency, in 2009, did look at climate change impacts on transport and included sections about rail and roads at elevations of less than 5 metres. It estimated modifications to state highways would cost about 88 million dollars (excluding any bridge rebuilding or any associated modifications that might be needed by rebuilding sections). Even rebuilding local roads also, was estimated at 800 million. Seems like transmission gully is poor value.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  10. Good onya Julie Anne

    The reality is, this Govt. is still riding the populous kiwi thing.. cars, roads & oil(pollution & climate change). Most other western nations are embracing trains/public transport.. BUT many kiwis just don’t get it !
    I was asked recently, “How can you, get by without a car ?” BUT I do.. buses & feet get me, most places I NEED to go !!

    Kia-ora

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3 (-1)

  11. Once again, there’s no new route on the Ngauranga foreshore.

    Not a meaningful objection as there ARE roads that get from the Capital out to Johnsonville without going through the gorge.

    I’ve considered barges that link together in a pontoon bridge too – INSIDE Wellington Harbor where such things are able to be secure and stable, and that may wind up necessary too. The Porirua-Paremata-Mana-Plimmerton stretch is vulnerable but would be feasible to bridge. It is the stretch between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki that becomes impassable.

    People ARE going to get kicked out of buildings on the current shoreline.

    Future Generations are going to need to some established infrastructure to back into rather than simply having their backs put against the wall.

    They’ll need all the resources out of reach of the ocean, that we can manage to create. Not saying this is a great answer but it is doable and it helps some.

    It is damned near impossible to get things done in this country because there are SO many people who seem to spend their entire lives trying to think of reasons to do nothing while we talk about doing everything until we drop dead of old age.

    Remember, we had roads for hundreds of years before anyone ever imagined an internal combustion engine. This is a “Route” that needs to be opened. If it needs a bridge at Pauhatanui someday, it does, and if that is all it needs to get people up as far as Paraparaumu (which will itself be mostly underwater) then it’s a good enough deal.

    I don’t do “perfect or nothing”. That gets you nothing far more often than it gets something done so you can get on with the next problem.

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  12. What BJ said plus 1

    It is damned near impossible to get things done in this country because there are SO many people who seem to spend their entire lives trying to think of reasons to do nothing while we talk about doing everything until we drop dead of old age.

    As an import like BJ, this endless need to have inquiries upon an inquiry held to review an inquiry held in 1955 is a frustration that one simply does not find anywhere but New Zealand.

    We have in New Zealand a decided inability to make a decision. Sorry yes we can make a decision, the one to hold another inquiry to review inquiries.

    What has happened in New Zealand since the heady days of the 1920’s to 1960’s that makes it impossible for anyone to do anything constructive?

    Jeez, this old fart would fire the current crop of useless MP’s in ALL political parties and replace them with 12 good men/women who make decisions based on good information.

    Get this country moving forward.

    Only saving grace is that the at least the Waterview tunnel is being built and at last Auckland will have an alternative road north plus Northland has an alternative route south.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  13. “The Porirua-Paremata-Mana-Plimmerton stretch is vulnerable but would be feasible to bridge. It is the stretch between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki that becomes impassable. ”

    So if it comes to that, why not just relocate the short section of the Centennial Highway section to the top of the escarpment, rather than build a whole new mega-billion dollar route?

    “Not a meaningful objection as there ARE roads that get from the Capital out to Johnsonville without going through the gorge.”

    Yes a twisty, turny narrow road that isn’t likely to survive ane earhtquake. But, yes, this route could be improved to create a high-level route that provides a real second road into the capital and won’t be affected by sea-level rise, so why advocate for building a road that has none of these advantages?

    “It is damned near impossible to get things done in this country because there are SO many people who seem to spend their entire lives trying to think of reasons to do nothing while we talk about doing everything until we drop dead of old age. ”

    Well, except that we have at present the Kapiti Expressway, which is all go at present (and which curtailed a local road designed to reduce traffic on SH1, which was close to going ahead), and Transmission Gully, which is all go, so I don’t see any sign of inability to make decisions. It’s just that these are bad decisions.

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  14. It does seem odd to be arguing that we need to react to climate change by devising schemes that will increase traffic emmissions. Lately we keep being told that the Kapiti Expressway will shave 40 minutes off the morning peak journey from Levin to Wellington. I doubt many make this 90km drive on a regular basis at present, but the new roads seem designed to encourage such long-distance commuting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  15. Sam – I doubt that you’d manage to save a dime by doing the “top of the escarpment” thing and you are proposing YET ANOTHER way to accomplish a task we already have a decent plan and impact statement for. Remember that I don’t do perfect and you are doing exactly what New Zealanders have been doing for decades. It isn’t worth the argument. We have “an” answer. It isn’t perfect but it will work and it will help and if it isn’t the very most perfect best possible way to spend our money we need to work out that WE CAN’T KNOW what that most perfect best possible way actually is. We gave it a good shot and this could be better but guess what… this one deals with most of the problem and can be done.

    However, if we instead of doing and getting something done, argue for another decade about what is the very most perfect best possible way to spend our money and effort in respect to this problem, then ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WILL GET DONE!!! … because that very most perfect best possible answer is not knowable in advance.

    Which is the story of New Zealand in a nutshell, an appropriate receptacle in this respect.

    I doubt that we’re going to increase or decrease emissions measurably by doing it. The price of petrol is far more important. What WE should be doing as Greens is lobbying for a light rail corridor and a real bicycle route (as in COMPLETELY separated from vehicle traffic) alongside.

    It is stuff like this that makes me wonder if the party actually understands the CO2 and climate problem as anything but an excuse. The real problem is that most of our civilization is doomed.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene/?_r=0

    The question is what parts and what knowledge (if any) we can save. We can save some of our transport net IF we have routes built. We can save some of our housing stock IF we have built places that are further up than the tide can ever reach. We can save far more of our civilization if we have the power supplies to maintain our computers and the ability to build computers… but we can manage a fair bit with books and paper and printing presses. May be that more traffic on the new road will go by bicycle and horseback than ever travels it by car… but we CAN build it now and our kids will have other problems to deal with if all we do about everything is talk about it.

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  16. I can’t see that we “won’t save a dime” by building 5km of road rather then 30km of road, which you acknowledge will need extra work to deal with sea level rises. And the top of the escarpment route is anything but “perfect” in my opinion – its just the easiest and cheapest way to avoid the few km of road you are saying is the crux of the problem.

    And I don’t think “we must do something NOW!” is the best way to approach a problem that will manifest over several decades. I seriously doubt your claim that road building doesn’t increase emmissions – there are plenty of people who will have the money to drive if it is convenient to do so, even if petrol does go up in price.

    Actually where I disagree with Green Party orthodoxy is the mania for light rail as the ultimate transport option – we already have an effective heavy rail commuter line to the coast, and you are advoating replicating that with a new light rail system? Why on earth?

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  17. I think bj is not so much advocating Transmission Gully, for the reasons that this government thinks it needs to be built, so much as advocating that it is at least going to be built and an alternative route is necessary for other reasons.

    Certainly, this government and, I suspect, any (yes, any) alternative government wouldn’t be making transport infrastructure decisions based on rising sea levels. So BJ is making the best of it. He is trying to save as much of civilisation as he can despite the fact that we know from history that civilisation destroys the environment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 (+4)

  18. Yes, I appreciate that BJ is has different motivations from the cureent road builders, but I just don’t think Transmission Gully is particularly useful in terms of climate change response – one can find positives in almost any project – but here the plusses still don’t exceed the minuses.

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  19. the top of the escarpment route is anything but “perfect” in my opinion – its just the easiest and cheapest way to avoid the few km of road you are saying is the crux of the problem.

    Just how many additional years of yammering about what IS the easiest and cheapest way to do this are you expecting us to spend. How many millions of dollars in engineering and environmental studies, and how much more difficult the road itself is to build are you willing to accept? As an engineer but admittedly not a Civil Engineer, I am looking at the stability issues and construction issues of that construction. The problem is not one of LENGTH, it is a problem of “DONE”. The current answer gets the job done, eliminates most of the problems associated with the older route and opens up some back blocks to build on, so that there are places that people can move into, even if they wind up sharing accommodation with strangers, or have to build new stuff, that they can reach without having to build the new road to get there as well.

    See, your answer ONLY solves the problem of “can you get in and out of Wellington”… and not the more important task of establishing a new corridor along which people can live, with or without motorcars.

    Nothing in this country ever gets “DONE!” – it gets discussed and studied, and reviewed, and reported on by royal commissions and reported on by independent reviewers and the reports are reviewed and the reviews are reported on until the entire process spirals inevitably into a black hole of blather about what the perfect answer is and we do nothing but we manage to do nothing perfectly.

    Perhaps I am a bit out of sorts… but that IS the Kiwi method of dealing with things. To a certain extent I am sympathetic with ramming things through Parliament “under urgency” – if only because what passes for “urgency” here seems snail-like to me.

    Tony…You got me right enough… though I don’t think it is civilization so much as the unfettered “growth” that is inherent in unfettered “Capitalism” that is eating the planet. Some might confuse the two.

    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19872-capitalism-and-the-destruction-of-life-on-earth-six-theses-on-saving-the-humans

    I expect to reduce consumption a lot, but I don’t expect the reductions to be voluntary and I do expect more than a little violence from the process.

    We can have a very nice civilization with a LOT less consumption, but we’d best work out how to keep electricity and computers and disk drives or we’re going to forget a hell of a lot of important stuff… we have to control the collapse of our more excessive excesses. :-)

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  20. Basically Sam, you introduced yet another answer.

    This one has had the studies, the engineering and the planning completed. It is satisfactory, not perfect.

    Since you don’t like it you suggested something else that would now have to have the studies done over, the engineering done over the planning done over and then agreed on and forced down the throats of some other mob that doesn’t want the pristine beauty of the view from Kapiti Island disturbed by a road running along the ridgeline.

    “Delay is the deadliest form of denial”.

    We shouldn’t participate in that. The problems aren’t amenable to “perfect” solutions, they are too big in many ways, for ANY solutions. We do the best we can to provide future generations with tools and a working environment to be able to deal with the problems we are leaving them in the global environment.

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  21. “The current answer gets the job done, eliminates most of the problems associated with the older route and opens up some back blocks to build on…”

    Well, as I explained before, it doesn’t eliminate the problems with the old route – it has the same ones, minus the Centennial Highway. Which is why I suggested an escarpment route – and I wasn’t proposing this as “another answer” since the problem we are dealing with has yet to be defined. As I stated before – we might not even need a route out of Wellington. But if SH1 was becoming awash on a regular basis, I don’t think they’d be any trouble getting this built.

    Transmission Gully is not an answer to a question on climate change, but an answer to the current government’s desire to shift road freight faster. It gets A job done, it just doesn’t get THE job done.

    I agree it opens up the back blocks, whether this is a good thing remains to be seen.

    It scares me a bit that climate change is being used to promote the National government’s madcap road building schemes, and to ridicule planning and consultation processes.

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  22. Yes, I think the government’s reasoning needs to be challenged. Luckily, the Greens are challenging it even if some members want to support it for different reasons.

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  23. “How many millions of dollars in engineering and environmental studies, and how much more difficult the road itself is to build are you willing to accept?”

    For what its worth, looking at the good old NZMS 260, it doesn’t look too bad at all – the top of the escarpment is fairly flat, its rocky, mostly farmland, not much forest, no significant watercourses. The only tricky bit is the north end where there’s a couple of tight corners to take out as it descends to the coastal flats. Nothing particularly problematic – just needs a bridge and some significant earthworks – much the same as Transmission Gully requires as it decends towards SH1. Anyway, don’t worry about it – it isn’t going to happen.

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  24. You are missing out on the 11 Point Kiwi Approach to Big Decisions.
    1. Debate the issue in Parliament.
    2. Discuss the issue on TV (more important, so don’t rush it.)
    3. Non-Binding Referendum Time!
    4. Ignore the result.
    5. Election Time, in which winning party calls for decisive action.
    6. Form a coalition with a party holding the opposite view.
    7. Set up a Commission of Inquiry to advise on ‘The Path Ahead.’
    8. Shelve the conclusions.
    9. Appoint overseas consltants to advise.
    10. Consultants report: “you’ve wasted too much money doing nothing, so do nothing.”
    11. Repeat stages 1 – 11 until broke.

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  25. The problem with the “planning and consultation” process as practiced here in New Zealand.

    It is fine to do the process ONCE.

    It is not fine to do it an infinite number of times, to continually suggest revisions and alternatives that then have to be consulted and planned over again, to delay until it is too late to START to build something.

    You’re right too that the problem DOES have to be defined better, because it is clear that you are failing to understand the problem that I am considering here.

    In 100 years time this country is going to be struggling with sea levels that make a significant chunk of our existing shoreline and infrastructure unusable.

    This includes houses, supermarkets, shopping malls and all manner of productive businesses. It happens to include some of our roads that reach along the coastline and will isolate some of our communities.

    Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay both become unreachable using existing roads and Wellington becomes a port with limited access to the surrounding countryside, through a single rail tunnel and a switchback goat track over the Rimutaka incline.

    This is a *significant* disruption to our civilization. We do rely and have ALWAYS (including before the introduction of the motorcar) relied on being able to travel from place to place, to communicate and to have some commerce.

    Put yourself in that future, constrained by lack of resources and massive disruptions in the rest of the world. Two scenarios.

    In one scenario you have a route that is protected from the encroaching sea, dotted with communities and provided with some basic infrastructure established that can grow as the ocean takes away what we’ve built on for the past 100 years.

    In the other you have to build that basic infrastructure and then build everything else you need from scratch.

    Which of those is more likely to lead to a breakdown in our social structures, a collapse of our civilization?

    This is a very different problem to “transit” into and out of Wellington, traffic flow, and the rest. The shoreline is going to change a lot faster in the second hundred years. Allowing for error in the estimates I’d not want anything built less than 15 meters above current mean high water… and would want towns and cities higher yet.

    I know it goes against the grain to do it but I’d be glad to see the party change its stance on this project and in the glare of the publicity that surrounds THAT, explain to people what the hell they are buying for their children with every additional liter of petrol they burn.

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  26. “…because it is clear that you are failing to understand the problem that I am considering here.”

    OK you just lost my interest there. Stop being such a self-righteous prat. The “if you don’t agree with me it’s because you don’t understand the issue” argument is one made by every politician who finds their preferred option under criticism. It just makes you sound arrogant and disrespectful.

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  27. “In 100 years time this country is going to be struggling with sea levels”

    Wow, at 2-3 cms per decade (current rate of rise according to the scientists measuring sea levels)that means we will have seen the sea rise of 20-30 cms in 100 years.
    Hardly major. Unless of course you deny the mainstream science on how they measure sea level.

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  28. Roman, you’ve fallen victim to the belief that what is happening now is what will happen in the future. Consider that sea level rise might actually accelerate. Most climate scientists think is surely will. And don’t forget that it doesn’t stop rising at 2100.

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  29. Sorry Sam… what I meant was that yes indeed I AM thinking about a different problem than the one you were discussing up to now, and yes you are right that it IS a different problem and that the problem needs to be identified. Didn’t mean that you didn’t understand what I was saying, but that your initial perception of what the problem is was nothing like mine… and it didn’t come out QUITE that way. Again, I do apologize. I just do not have time to do proper editing, and won’t until after Christmas.

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  30. Actually most scientists accept the accuracy of the satellite/buoy systems measuring sea level rise, the measurement of what’s happened in the past (paleoclimatology) and not press releases from Greenpeace.
    Given the hiatus in warming and the growth of ice extent in Antarctica and recovery in the Arctic its no wonder that sea levels have actually dropped slightly.
    On that hiatus, “if you cant explain the pause- you cant explain the cause!”

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  31. Roman – we are already seeing some acceleration and it will only get faster and then much faster and then much much faster by the end of the century. My best guess at the result is 1.7 meters plus/minus 0.5 meters.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/sea-level-rise-predictions-intermediate.htm

    I suggest in this too, that this “guess” includes the observation that the rate of change is going to faster and changing faster at that point than it has done at any time in human history. In other words, the tide will not just be rising fast, it’ll be observably faster every decade and may be “lumpy” (as in a rise of a meter in a single YEAR), if some of the potential tipping points turn out to be real.

    Don’t be so quick to think that history is a guide here. We are in terra-incognita mate, and we’re not getting out of the gorse-patch any time soon.

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  32. Roman,

    The “pause” has been explained many, many times. That you raise it, along with the supposed “recovery” in sea ice, shows that you aren’t really thinking, just spouting typical denier nonsense. I would be more charitable but sometimes trolling becomes very tedious.

    In case you are listening, please don’t think that the trend line maps to the actual observations exactly. There is some natural variability at work (see the link above) and year-to-year observations will not be a straight line or perfect curve. What is coming is perfectly clear in the paleoclimate record.

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  33. Roman – when you said “Given … the growth of ice extent in Antarctica and recovery in the Arctic it’s no wonder that sea levels have actually dropped slightly.” you appear to have missed a basic physics point. Ice displaces its own mass of water. Melting ice that is floating on water does NOT cause the water level to rise, so conversely, an increase in the amount of ice floating on the water around Antarctica or on the Arctic ocean does NOT cause the sea level to fall.

    It is also worth noting that the likely explanation for an increase in the area of sea ice around Antarctica is stronger winds. It is NOT falling global temperatures. If anything, an increase in ice melt of the ice on the Antarctic land would make the sea water freeze more easily – and increase sea levels.

    Trevor.

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