People in South Tyneside could be left all at sea, according to a chilling prediction over climate change.
Large swathes of the South Shields seafront could be submerged – with waves crashing over iconic landmarks such as the Groyne Pier and the revamped Littlehaven Promenade – at the turn of the next century if predicted rises in sea levels come about because of global warming.
The shocking scenario for future generations has been mapped out by South Tyneside Green Party member Daniel Routledge.
The 22-year-old data scientist has adopted research from America’s National Academy of Science to see what current pollution levels would do to South Shields seafront.
Mr Routledge, from Harbour View, South Shields, has produced a map based on a ‘worst-case scenario’ – unchecked carbon emissions which raise the sea level by 1.75 metres in 85 years.
South Tyneside Council completed the £5million Littlehaven Seawall Project – that includes a new 500m curved seawall constructed to improve flood defences and a new coastal park – only last February.
New development on the seafront could be threatened or lostDaniel Routledge
But residents could struggle to keep their heads above water against the projected surge in sea levels in decades to come.
South Tyneside Council says its is ‘proud of its green credentials’ and has signed up to an action plan to slash carbon emissions by at least 20% in the next four years.
Mr Routledge said: “The red colour on the map shows areas of the seafront that would be below this new sea level. There would be waves lapping at the fairground rides, and the iconic Groyne Pier with its red lighthouse would be underwater for hours each day.
“New developments on the seafront, like the Haven Point leisure centre and the newly spruced-up promenade on the Littlehaven beach, would be threatened or lost.”
He added: “The worst-case scenario is unlikely to happen if CO2 emissions stay as they are, but we’re extremely likely to have a rise of at least 60cm in the normal high tide level by the end of the century.
“For context, 60cm is roughly the level of the storm surge in December 2013 in South Tyneside.”
While world leaders converged on Paris this week to take part in a high-profile United Nations Climate Change Conference, Mr Routledge says green strategies need to be stepped up locally and nationally.
He added: “Global warming has the effect of expanding waters, which leads to rising sea levels. There needs to be less use of fossil fuels.”
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said; “South Tyneside Council is proud of its green credentials. Along with other North East Councils we were the first region in Europe to sign up to the European Union’s flagship initiative for tackling climate change – the Covenant of Mayors.
“We have achieved the Carbon Trust Standard for our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and our commitment to make further reductions year on year.”
Mr Routledge says now is the time for local and national leaders to drive forward plans for renewable energy – or face paying a potentially high cost in the future.”
You can read the study at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014EF000239/full