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Climate change to rise EL sea level: expert

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That’s the prediction of local climate change specialist, Dr Alan Carter of Coastal and Environmental Services (CES), based on climate change studies, which took place in the Western Cape.

CES is currently busy with drafting the Eastern Cape Climate Change Response Strategy for government.

“According to studies done in the Western Cape there is a 95 percent chance that during individual storm events the sea level could rise by as much as 6.5 metres in exposed coastal areas given the right set of circumstances,” said Carter.

“That includes actual sea level rise, storm events, and tidal increases  such as spring tides. We’re facing a similar scenario in East London and I believe in our lifetime we will see storm events threatening the Esplanade on a more frequent basis.

"Just look at the massive waves which pounded Gonubie not so long ago.

Carter said the effects of climate change would be felt across just about every sector of society and business.

“East London residents will be faced with hotter conditions as it is predicted the average temperature will increase by at least two degrees in the next 10 to 15 years,” he said.

“This will increase heat stress and our infrastructure will have to be changed to meet the new demands.”

Carter said the hotter conditions could cause crops to fail, a change in natural vegetation while animal species could migrate to cooler areas.

“East London is probably going to get wetter and more humid and we’ll experience an increase in flooding and the severity of storm events,” he said.

“People living in low lying areas and along riverbanks will be at risk. There are already calls being made to re-look at our flood levels.”   

But it’s not all doom and gloom. “The fact that we have to react presents tremendous opportunities for us too,” he said.

So, what do you think? Give us your opinion below.

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Feb. 5, 2011