THE Durban beachfront is likely to be a very different place 90 years from now – especially if the waters of the Indian Ocean rise substantially because of unchecked global warming.
Calculations by international climate change scientists suggest that sea levels worldwide could rise between 0.5m and 2m by the turn of the century, depending on how rapidly the world’s polar ice belts melt because of global climate change.
Along the Durban coastline, coastal policy expert Andrew Mather projects that the level of the sea could rise between 0.3m and 1m before 2100.
He has helped to develop new planning setback lines to limit any further development close to the water’s edge.
If the 1m rise came about, the sea would be lapping against the steps of some of Durban’s largest beachfront hotels and resorts.
This Sunday, KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and other senior political leaders will be walking along part of the beachfront to draw attention to the threat of rising sea levels on the day before the start of the UN’s climate conference in Durban.
Earlier this week, Mkhize said political leaders around the world were being held accountable for rising greenhouse gas levels, and no one could fold their arms in despair. It was time for leaders to act, he declared.
The premier has since been urged to change the starting point of the “blue line” walk to draw attention to the effects of sea-level rise at the controversial Vetch’s Pier/Point Waterfront development.
Johnny Vassilaros, of the Save Vetch’s Pier Association, sent a letter to Mkhize this week, urging him to start the walk at Vetch’s Pier instead of uShaka Marine World, about 400m to the north.
“Not only will this development be well below the recommended coastal setback lines, but below the current high-water mark and well into the ocean,” said Vassilaros.
“We believe this development goes against the COP17 and the principles of what this walk symbolises. We look forward to joining you on the beach.”
Mkhize’s office has not responded to Vassilaros’s invitation. 8P10