Dr Richard Levy’s profile says that he is a glacial stratigrapher and paleoclimatologist with expertise in microfossil analysis. His research primarily focuses on the evolution of Earth’s climate system over the past 40 million years in the mid to high southern latitudes.
Essentially there isn’t much about climate change that Dr Richard doesn’t know about. He is currently the Programme Leader – NZ SeaRise Programme at GNS.
With the politicians around the world heading to COP26 to save us all from climate change oblivion, it’s worth taking the time to look at where we are at.
About 30 million years ago, the sea level was about 20 metres higher but over (a very long) time the poles grew larger, sucked up all the water in ice glaciers and the sea levels dropped to current levels. In between we’ve had a few interglacial changes but by measuring the carbon dioxide levels trapped in air bubbles in Antarctic ice cores, they have mostly stayed between 180-280 parts per million. The problem we have now is that the levels have shot up since the start of the industrial revolution and even faster over the last 50 years. Modelling on current figures predicts significantly faster rises still.
This increase in carbon dioxide is causing temperature rises which will cause more significant events more often (floods, droughts, storms etc) along with sea level rise. Some of this can be seen globally but we have also had a number of events around Wellington – storms pushing waves over the road to Eastbourne and storms ravaging the south coast. These events are happening more frequently and causing more damage. There are possibly some other factors coming into play with the seismic movement and tectonic plates driving some of the land down and there could be some effects from the worlds orbital tilt pushing poles closer to the sun which makes the poles melt faster rising sea levels. But the main factor driving the RATE of change appears to be our insatiable drive for energy and burning fossil fuels.
Let’s hope the politicians can save us and the worldly governments can agree to create policy which enables us all to reduce our energy levels to keep the temperature rise below 2 degrees over the next 10-50 years.
Brent Gerrard