By KATHERINE MULLARD
RISING sea levels due to climate change may see a very different coastline for Coffs Harbour by 2100.
If what the experts say is true, we're in for a wet and wild ride with the possibility of cyclones, storm surges and rough surf.
According to Coffs Harbour City Council's State of the Environment Supplementary Report 2005, climate change is a real threat to Coffs Harbour.
"Considering our proximity to the coast, this kind of change is of serious concern," the report reads.
The report predicts sea level rises of up to 80 centimetres by the year 2100 and an increase in air temperature of up to 2.7 degrees Celsius each year, as well as changes to winds and wave heights.
Alarmingly, movements towards these predictions have already been observed in NSW by the CSIRO, and Cr Rod McKelvey said climate change was happening a lot quicker than previously thought.
He said the above predictions may happen as soon as 2050, which would be catastrophic for residents along the coast.
"All the beachside houses on the eastern sides will be under water and places built on very low land may well have to be abandoned," Cr McKelvey said.
He explained that cyclones and major flood events meant that river systems would become unable to drain.
"We need to take serious action Predictions point to an From Page 1
within the next 15 years otherwise things will be irreversible. Our government is in denial.
"They're at least talking about it, but it hasn't been for very long."
With the recent release of a major new report warning of imminent catastrophes unless urgent action is taken to combat greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is back on the agenda.
The Review on the Economics of Climate Change, written by senior British government economist Sir Nicholas Stern, states that unchecked global warming will devastate the world economy on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression.
But Prime Minister John Howard stands by his decision not to sign onto the Kyoto protocol on climate change.
Cr McKelvey said our local economy would be badly affected and that it was time for every resident to start taking action.
"Our biggest danger is the potential reparation costs after storms and flooding. It will end up costing us all," Cr McKelvey said.
"Still a percentage of the population are not satisfied it's happening. Most of the younger generation have a handle on it, but a lot of my generation don't comprehend what's going on."