One of the things that many within the both the alternative financial and alternative political blogs talk about is that if something cannot continue it will not. That which is unsustainable will end. A simple example of this is one of the local suburbs, which is below sea level and just protected by sand dunes, and there are questions being raised as to if we should compensate landowners and move the suburb to the hills.
But the waves are not done at St Clair, as they also stripped sand from beaches, forced the closure of a coastal walking track, and left the future of the area’s seaside playing fields hanging – almost literally – tenuously in a fight for existence.
And, while attention this week has been firmly focused on water above the surface, another layer of trouble is hidden just below residents’ feet.
The area’s groundwater table lies in some cases just centimetres below ground, rising and falling with the tide across a large swathe of South Dunedin.
Its presence so close to the surface is a problem. And it is predicted to get worse.
When it rains, the way it did last Wednesday, there is less dry ground for water to soak into.
The results were quickly evident, as water with nowhere else to go sat on the surface, pouring into stormwater drains and eventually houses.
And it is also a problem because the water table is expected to keep rising, exacerbating the flooding threat, as predicted climate change scenarios play out.
All of this leaves Mr Cull with a dilemma – not wanting to alarm people, or suggest a plan that doesn’t yet exist, while at the same time laying some cards on the table to start a conversation.
”We won’t solve the problem by just renewing the pipes.
”I think we need to be considering the implications of reasonably large-scale urban renewal being planned.”
Some work is, of course, already under way, and rules are changing.
The council already requires new buildings in South Dunedin to be built with higher floor levels, to keep habitable spaces clear of any flooding.
The council was also implementing a development restriction across South Dunedin, controlling subdivisions to keep development to existing levels, as part of its second generation district plan (2GP).
Houses would also have to be relocatable, meaning they could be picked up and moved if the worst scenarios played out.
More expensive suggestions were also outlined last year, when Beca – in a council-commissioned report – recommended a $75 million network of pumps and wells, to draw groundwater away from South Dunedin over the coming decades.
But Mr Cull said other dramatic options might also need to be considered in time.
That could come in the form of government intervention, and legislation, to help buy up large swathes of South Dunedin’s oldest houses.
That would make room for bulldozers, clearing the path for better flood defences and, eventually, a new special housing zone developed on artificially raised ground, he suggested.
At the other end of the spectrum was the idea of a managed retreat, in which parts of South Dunedin were left to their fate as Mother Nature took her course.
That could, for example, see areas like Tainui – the lowest-lying part of South Dunedin – becoming a ”small lake” over time, acting as a giant ”sump” that drained water from other parts of the suburb.
The range of threats facing the area raised questions about the wisdom of investing in a new South Dunedin library complex, or other expensive assets and infrastructure.
Managed retreat might be a controversial concept, and one sure to divide the community, but Mr Cull believed it was time to start talking about it.
”I would support it [managed retreat] if we looked at the alternatives and retreat was clearly the most efficient and cost-effective.
This is engineering. It is also why I live in the hills: the storm that set this discussion off dumped 175 mm of rain into a poorly drained swamp with houses on it, and I don’t like living in a swamp, even though it makes getting around town easier as everything is flat.
The text for today is from revelations. It refers to the time to come. What is the beast is becoming more evident over time. There are consequences to our acceding to the demands of the elite and losing our ability to witness. For God is just. And God hates oppression, injustice, and the deliberate choice to inflict pain.
Which we have all done. We all deserve the wrath of God.
Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
I am not a preacher. I’m a medic. I do this as a kind of discipline for myself, and to allow me to get various thoughts off my chest which would be challenging to say in a clinical situation. But this is where someone who is fervent and can exegete needs to help us. For this we have the Puritans, the internet, and the ability to take photos of what is on your computer screen.
And here we see one of those facts that our forefathers — who were quite familiar with death in all its guises, early, sudden, violent and painful — noted. That the crueller thing was to have no chance of salvation. Herein lies one of the great sins of this age. Yes, we kill the inconvenient: the same people who argued for abortion when it was too much of a trial to push out the babe they conceived in fornication now want a poison slipped into their veins to ease their suicide — but we tell people there is no sin, no shame, no damnation, not a need for salvation and that all your errors can be blamed on the church or white men or both.
Which makes being faithful as transgressive as being heterosexual to the elite. The greater sin is that they want the chluthu to come and all to worship that which eats their brains.
Let us keep our sanity. Let us not be part of the elite. And if they come for us, let them. For we will not be part of them.