On Thursday 28th November Professor Richard Tol of the University of Sussex gave a thought provoking and slightly alternative view on the social response to sea level rise as part of the National Oceanography Centre’s Coastal Seminar Series. Tol began by reviewing the current knowledge on sea level rise, using results and figures from the recently published IPCC 5th assessment. He pointed out that current sea level predictions, regardless of the scenario, are only considered up to 2100. However, the sea level response to climate change mitigation is slow and gives no benefit within this time frame. Therefore, Tol suggested that adaptation would be more suitable when considering sea level rise on its own. Three forms of adaption were identified; protection, accommodation or retreat. The talk assessed the ability of a nation to adapt to sea level rise, the county’s adaptive capacity, which is governed by its technological capability, financial resource and ability to recognize problems and mobile resources, according to Tol. He then went on to assess the vulnerability in comparison to a countries economic and political state, exemplifying how less developed countries are more at risk from natural disasters and sea-level rise than developed countries.
Over all, this was an interesting and engaging talk which will certainly provide plenty of debate around the NOC for days to come. The next talk in the Coastal Seminar Series comes from Katie Hey from HR Wallingford on Thursday 12th December, more details are available on the NOC website; http://noc.ac.uk/seminars/southampton/coastal-seminar-series