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Neo-Atlantis: Dutch Responses to Five Meter Sea Level Rise


Author Info

  • Alexander A. Olsthoorn
  • Peter E. van der Werff
  • Laurens M. Bouwer
  • Dave Huitema


What would happen to the Netherlands if, in 2030, the sea level starts to rise and eventually, after 100 years, a sea level of five meters above current level would be reached? Two socio-economic scenarios are developed from a literature review and by interviews with researchers and practicionersin the domains of social sciences, economics, civil engineering, and land use planning. One scenario describes what would happen in a future characterised by a trend towards further globalisation, marketisation and high economic growth, while the other scenario happens in a future under opposite trends. Under both scenarios, the Southwest and Northwest of the Netherlands – already now below seal level - would be abandoned because of sea level rise. Although most experts believe that geomorphology and current engineering skills allow to largely maintain the territorial integrity of the Netherlands, there are some reasons to assume that this is not likely to happen. Social processes that precede important political decisions – such as the growth of the belief in the reality of SLR and the framing of such decision in a proper political context (policy window) – evolve slowly. Although a flood disaster would speed up decision-making, the general expectation is that decisions would come too late in view of the rate of SLR and the possible pace of construction of works.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University in its series Working Papers with number FNU-75.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: May 2005
Date of revision: May 2005
Publication status: Forthcoming, Climatic Change
Handle: RePEc:sgc:wpaper:75

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Keywords: Extreme sea level rise; The Netherlands; flood defences;

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Cited by:
  1. Robert J. Nicholls & Richard S.J. Tol & Athanasios T. Vafeidis, 2005. "Global Estimates Of The Impact Of A Collapse Of The West Antarctic Ice Sheet: An Application Of Fund," Working Papers FNU-78, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Jul 2005.
  2. Ferenc L. Toth & Eva Hizsnyik, 2005. "Managing The Inconceivable: Participatory Assessments Of Impacts And Responses To Extreme Climate Change," Working Papers FNU-74, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised May 2005.


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