Sea-level rise and the North Sea
In general, the debate about future sea-level rise in the North Sea is less about whether major losses will occur than about how best to deploy the available money and technology to ensure lasting protection and thereby to minimize anticipatable losses. Unlike the poorer and much more vulnerable regions of the world, the North Sea is surrounded by wealthy countries with the capacity to safeguard their land from a rising and more stormy sea without seriously disrupting their economies. The debate, therefore, is essentially about management or strategy: how much to allow certain areas to flood for conserving nature or achieving recreational benefits; how far to allow natural beach erosion and accretion to take place through manipulative forms of geomorphological surgery; and how far to rely on the durable outer wall of concrete and steel or tidal defence barrier (or barrage) for key estuaries. That debate is essentially about best environmental options where the economics of safeguarding include surrogate values for retaining natural and quasi-natural features as part of a flood-protection strategy, as much as estimates of the benefits for property protection and continuation of daily business and social relationships without tragic Disruption.
In this sense, residents of the North Sea states take a concerned but ultimately relaxed view of sea-level rise, at least for the next 150 years or so. Nobody is willing to discuss what may have to be done if sea levels rise higher and faster over the next 100 years, as accumulations of greenhouse-forcing gases cause atmospheric warming effects. Yet 250