Tuesday, 27 October 2009

"Australia coastal living at risk"

More complete and utter bollocks from the BBC:

Australians may have to leave coastal areas as rising sea levels threaten homes, according to a new report.

The parliamentary committee report says urgent action is needed, as seas are expected to rise by 80cm (31 inches). (1)

About 80% of Australians live in coastal areas, and the report recommends new laws banning further development in coastal regions. (2)

Correspondents say the authorities are divided over whether to retreat from rising seas or defend the coastline. (3)

The report, entitled Managing Our Coastal Zone in a Changing Climate, urges the authorities to consider "the possibility of a government instrument that prohibits continued occupation of the land or future building development on the property due to sea hazard". (4)

It estimates that Aus$150bn ($137bn) worth of property is at risk from rising sea levels and more frequent storms in future years."

(1) OK, let's assume sea levels actually rose by 31". How many properties are built less than 31" above sea level? Relatively few, I'd guess.

(2) They live where it's nicest to live, i.e. near the beach and near a large town, rather than in the Outback.

(3) That's a straightforward economic decision. Costs and benefits. It's up to property owners in any particular area to decide which they prefer (and pay for it via an earmarked Land Value Tax, if a majority are in favour, to match costs and benefits). See also Netherlands.

(4) Dude, WTF? If people believe that sea levels will rise, they will prefer to build or buy on higher ground, the markets will sort it out. Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong - it's like insurance.

(5) This is the crowning glory of nonsense, of course. Property prices in Australia are (apparently) even higher than in the UK, so the rebuild cost of all that property might be a quarter of the figure mentioned. The rest of it is location value.

Did nobody watch Superman? Lex Luthor's cunning plan was to start an earthquake that would see most of California fall into the ocean. As a result of this, the land he'd bought further inland would then become coastline and rocket in value. So with Australia, the total location value would not (necessarily) be destroyed, it would just move somewhere else, wherever all the people and businesses move.


Ross said...

"Property prices in Australia are (apparently) even higher than in the UK"

That's crazy if true, Australia is virtually empty.

Pogo said...

ISTR that the rate of sea-level rise, where it's actually happening, is around 3mm per year, and has been for at least a century. So, it's going to take 267 years to rise 80cm. Unless they're building their houses really to last, it's going to be a simple case of when a house collapses you build its replacement a bit further away from the sea.


bayard said...

To be fair to the Beeb, they are simply reporting Australian official lunacy, they are not actually endorsing said lunacy. OTOH, they are not distancing themselves from it either.

Tim Almond said...


That's the way they roll. The bias isn't in the facts reported, it's in how much coverage of certain facts is given.

Look at how often they give coverage to "studies" or "reports" by trade unions or the likes of War on Want. Then count how often they give coverage to groups like the ASI.

I'm with Jeff Randall on this, though - they don't even know they're being biased.

DBC Reed said...

@ Ross
If you look up Australian house prices on Google the first thing that comes up is something from the ominous-sounding Daily Reckoning saying they are seriously over priced.
It doesn't matter if the greater part of Australia is trackless waste, land values follow things like rivers ,but not flood plains ,coasts,natural routes through mountains etc and manmade infrastructure like roads, railways, bars,whorehouses , values tending to increase where these factors intersect .
The fallacy is to look at the total land area and divide it by the total population and decide there is room for loads of houses there.Something which MW is close to doing sometimes in respect of the UK.Los Angeles is built in an arid region but survives by bringing in water from miles away along canals prone to evaporation.
Land values, to get a bit clunky,appear to be a dynamic relationship between a host of factors: you cannot build places on cheap land and expect them to thrive.Empty land is that way for a reason surely.

Robin Smith said...

Biggest point on location value has been missed on this thread:

Its value arises by far and away the greatest amount because people are there. Working together, in association, divising labour, comparating advantage, trading, exchanging, freely.

People started living there eaons ago because land was free. Actually I dont think they had a choice as they were quasi criminals? Rent was close to zero.

Their wages were relatively high. Returns on their capital were relatively high

The fact that rivers of flood plains existed helped of course. But when flood plains were all the free land left not enclosed and the choice was slave labour or freedom, which would you choose?

Robin Smith said...

Shoot! TYPO on last post apologies:

Dividing labour
Comparing advantage

Umbongo said...


The BBC is utterly shameless. In reporting this pathetic stunt in the Maldives, the BBC somehow forgot to note these interesting facts.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RS, I think DBC covered all that.

U, yes, we know perfectly well that sea levels aren't rising (places under threat are those that are sinking - Venice - or underwater already - New Orleans) and neither are temperatures, that's why they always make wild predictions about the future, as yet unproven one way or another.

Umbongo said...


"they always make wild predictions about the future, as yet unproven one way or another" or just lie or rather, let's be charitable, simply select the data most favourable to their theory.

Anonymous said...

Ummmm... and didn't the word storms appear in the article? I see it nowhere in this post or the comments.

Captcha word: dinglea. Quite appropriate.