STORM surges and high tides regularly inundate car parks in Rhyll and Inverloch. Anyone who walks the beaches along the Grantville waterline can show you where the foreshore once was and how much closer it is to the highway.
About 180 people attended the forum, which was organised by local climate action group Groundswell Bass Coast.
Mr Burnside implored concerned Bass Coast citizens to ignore inaccurate and misleading arguments and make decisions that will allow our children to inherit a healthy planet.
His impassioned plea followed a presentation by oceanographer Dr John Hunter, who said economics was not a science but often just the application of abstract assumptions that cause one financial disaster after another. He talked about the cause of rising sea levels and the science of climate change.
Dr Hunter’s key point was that since the 1800s human activity has caused a massive sea level rise, the speed of which is increasing constantly. He predicted a one-metre rise by 2100 if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels soon. Some scientists believe the rise could be closer to four metres.
Dr Hunter relayed to the audience a terrifying reality that every 10 centimetres of sea level rise triples the number of coastal flooding events. So a 40 centimetre rise in sea level means 81 times the incidence of flooding events. Suddenly, planning for the "one in a hundred year flood” (on which planning authorities rely) has to deal with almost an annual flood event of that severity. This has obvious massive implications, particularly for low-lying areas and coastal communities like ours here in Bass Coast.
Julian Burnside went on to discuss the deplorable treatment of asylum seekers under our “care” and put that into an economic context. He asserts that it would actually be cheaper to bring detainees to Australia and settle them in rural areas where there is a demand for labour. The influx could add to the local economy, both from increased demand and removing the cost of detention measures.
He pointed out that a 40-centimetre sea level rise would displace up to 100,000 of our South Pacific neighbours. He expressed a hope that we would treat them with respect and kindness and welcome them to our country as there was no hope for them ever to return to their inundated homes.
Mr Burnside said government backing of the Adani coal mine proposal was a typical example of politicians and big business using old-style economic arguments that failed the environment and the security of future generations.
The evening included a short tribute to John Clarke, a part-time Bass Coast resident who used his unique brand of comedy to highlight political and environmental issues.
With Groundswell Bass Coast