London is mustering its flood defences more often as global warming
raises sea levels, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, David
King, told a Reuters conference on climate change and investment.
biggest indicator of change that is already happening is usage of the
Thames Barrier," King told the conference late on Monday.
Thames Barrier was designed to be used once every two or three years
and in that period after it was built in 1980 it was indeed used once
every two or three times a year. We’re now using it six times a year."
direct cost of a breach in the flood defences would exceed 30 billion
pounds ($52.70 billion) directly, King added, not including the
"indirect" damage to people’s lives.
Scientists predict that
heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2), produced by burning fossil fuels,
can raise the temperature of the Earth, melt ice caps and cause
The most recent time that CO2 levels were higher than
now was 55 million years ago, when CO2 was more than double current
levels and the sea about 100 meters higher, King said.
King saw climate change posing the biggest threat to Britain from changes to rainfall patterns and storm damage to coastlines.