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Mitigating sea level rise

Like London and Shanghai, Singapore obviously faces a long term threat from sea level rise, and faces challenges in maintaining sufficient water supply and protecting the natural environment.

So what are some of the steps we can take to mitigate such risks?

This was a subject discussed by Professor Rob Wilby, University of Loughborough, an accomplished UK author and reviewer of the Assessment Reports of the IPCC, who was invited by the British High Comm to hold a Distinguished Visitors Lecture last week on “Adapting to uncertain climate variability and change” .

Had the chance to speak with Prof Wilby, and although he couldn’t comment directly on Singapore’s situation, he said lessons can be learnt from the UK, where studies have been put in place to figure out what the risks are, and what the options are in the future.

“This requires working amongst scientists, involves the public, and international experts coming in and so forth, it’s not a trivial experience you can complete in a short space of time. It requires a measured approach and a long term view of the future,” he said.

“We’re talking about to the end of the century, also recognising that sea level rise won’t stop at 2100 , but beyond that, it will rise further, so we need a far sighted approach.”

Some take-aways from his presentation:

  1. Minimise adverse environmental side effects.Although adaptation is important, but there must be considerations to the natural environment. Early studies must be done.
  2. Recognise that decisions taken now will affect future options.
  3. Use scenarios to test fitness of adaptation measures and policies.
  4. Provide guidance for practitioners.

One important part of the assessment process, he said, was to ask this question: are there government measures and assistance in place to react in the right way or quickly enough?

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