For Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot, the dangers of warming our planet are no longer something distant. They are real, they are present, and they are within our youngest children’s lifetime.
The scariest part for our region from today’s report is the claims that “no matter what we do, the seas will continue to rise”.
“Climate change is not a problem of the future, it’s here and now and affecting every region in the world,” said Dr Friederike Otto from the University of Oxford. He is one of the many authors on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
The tone was unanimous and clear; this is happening, this will continue to happen, and this is very serious.
Different aspects of the report will scare different regions of the world. Residents in Aberavon, Mumbles and SA1 will be less concerned with extreme heat than those currently fighting wildfires in Greece.
However, the sea level rising, will be hard hitting here and its impact is no longer down to interpretation. It is happening and pictures show what a devastating effect this will have on this region.
Port Talbot, Swansea & Neath WILL be under water
There is far less room for error from the scientists within this report. This is calculated and based on intense data. The phrase “very likely” appears 42 times in the Summary for Policymakers. In scientific terms, that is a 90-100% certainty that something will happen.
The report warns that both extreme heat and extreme rainfall will become a lot more frequent and intense as global temperatures continue to rise. This, for our region, can still feel like something happening somewhere distant. The sea level and its pictures are far more hard-hitting.
“The gorilla that looms large in the background is these very scary sea-level rise numbers in the long term,” said Prof Malte Meinshausen from the University of Melbourne and an IPCC author.
“In the paper it shows that even with 1.5C warming we’re looking at the long-term of two to three metres. And under the highest scenarios, we could be looking at multi-metre sea-level rise by 2150. That is just scary, because it’s maybe not at the end of our lifetime, but it is around the corner and it will be committing this planet to a big legacy.”
Any sea level rise has its repercussions. “With gradual sea-level rise, those extreme sea-level events that have occurred in the past, just once per century, will occur more and more frequently in the future,” said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of the IPCC.
“Those that occurred only once per century in the past are expected to occur once or twice per decade by mid-century. The information we provide in this report is extremely important to take into account and prepare for these events.
Below are images with a 2 meter sea rise.
Only positive news
In a gloomy report, there was one positive. That is that although scientists are even more certain than ever about the damage being done. They are even more certain than ever with what is needed to improve the planet.
It appears impossible to stop certain parts of Port Talbot, Llanelli or, Gowerton to become under sea level. However it is possible to stop further damage.
Politicians will no doubt come under further pressure. How they can balance a post-Covid financial recovery with saving the planet will be a difficult juggling act.