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Soup of This Day #378: ‘Cause It Won’t Be Too Long

May 21, 2014

Kiribati
Abaiang Atoll, Kiribati. A decent drop punt will make it from the Pacific to the lagoon – Photo: Flexman, 2012. Flexman is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I believe that global warming is real, and that humans have driven it such that everything that lives on this planet will be affected, by-and-large negatively.

I believe this because science.

Sure, I’m not a scientist myself – After 8 years of university study in physics I fell short of a degree and now, some years later, all I have left is a vague but unsubstantiated feeling that some dude called Schrödinger was not particularly nice to his cat. Nonetheless, in spite of my exclusion from their ranks, I have been around enough scientists to have faith in them as a body of informed opinion.

Collectively, they know their @#$%.

And their @#$% says that we are soon to be in the @#$%, whereby @#$% equals sea water. Yep, the level of our oceans are set to rise as our planet warms up and the ice at and around our poles melts. The exact level of the rise is not entirely clear. Nobody is clear either on when these rises will take effect – It could be in the 10s of years or perhaps 100s.

It will happen though – Recently a NASA-lead group found that the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is now irreversible. This is a problem because 1 of the outcomes of this is that our global sea levels could go up by as much as 5m.

Which is not good for those living in coastal areas or on low-lying islands. Some nations, like Kiribati in the Pacific, will disappear altogether and across all nations, many millions, if not billions, of the world’s people will be displaced. As monumental as that upheaval will be, this looming humanitarian crisis is not the direct focus of this post. See, I write mostly about sport and so I thought I’d bring the impact of that projected up-welling from our oceans into a context that makes sense for footy fans in Australia.

Here then, with some assistance from Google Maps and absolutely no scientific credibility, are the projected impacts of a global sea level rise of 5m for each of the 17 grounds which will host Australian Football League (AFL) matches in 2014:

Adelaide Oval – Adelaide Crows, Port Adelaide.

This historic Australian sporting ground needs to be preserved at all costs, if for no other reason than as a memorial to the English cricketing capitulation of 2006. Oh how we all laughed as Shane Warne induced that choke. Good times.

Fortunately, we can hold off on the sandbags – Adelaide Oval is a healthy 25m above sea level. A word of warning though for teams visiting from outside of South Australia – Adelaide Airport is separated from the very-nearby Gulf St Vincent by only 4m of elevation and currently, between the runways and the sea, the only barrier is a sewerage treatment facility. Yep, 5m of sea level rise and you’ll be having a @#$% landing in Adelaide.

Bellerive Oval (Blundstone Arena) – North Melbourne.

A rather lovely ground perched on the banks of the Derwent River in Hobart, Tasmania. It is precariously perched though – At a scant 10m above the level of the estuary, I’d be thinking a seawall might be handy, lest the famed Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race end up finishing by the Members’ Stand.

Carrara Stadium (Metricon Stadium) – Gold Coast Suns.

Carrara Stadium is located on Queensland’s Gold Coast – A stretch of beach-front development characterised by high-rise apartment blocks and canal-side marinas. Suffice it to say that once the ol’ West Antarctic Ice Sheet goes all melty, there will be a whole lot more of those canals to go around. Which is nice if you’re into boating but not so good for the playing of football at Carrara.

Handily though, the Suns uniform bears a fairly accurate resemblance to a lifeguard’s costume and their skipper, Gary Ablett Jr, does appear to be able to run on water. It could work.

Cazaly’s Stadium – Western Bulldogs

This Cairns-based ground is named for famed Aussie rules legend, Roy Cazaly, who was otherwise immortalised in the song, ‘Up There Cazaly.’ Sadly for the stadium, it’s not really ‘up there’ in terms of height above sea level – It’s a scant 3m above the waves and there isn’t any elevation of note between the playing surface and the Coral Sea. On the flipside, the encroaching waters should be tropical so I’d suggest that the Doggies switch to pineapple energy drinks and just kick back on a Pool Pony.

Docklands (Etihad Stadium) – Carlton, Essendon, North Melbourne, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs.

Docklands. Yeah, that name gives a pretty good indication as to how that ground is situated post ice-melt. At least the 1st part of the name anyway – the ‘Dock’ bit – docks generally being handily situated at the water’s edge. The 2nd part of the name, the ‘land’, probably won’t be accurate in the future as this ground sits a scant 5m above the current waterline.

There is some grand irony in this as Docklands is the only ground used by the AFL that has a fully-retractable roof, thus isolating the games within from the effects of the often harsh Australian elements. On the plus side there will be some opportunities for future development – Maybe an indoor aquarium?

Kardinia Park – Geelong.

In the Geelong Cats team song it has the line:

‘Down at Kardinia Park.’

This is despite that ground having a positive elevation of around 17m. Go figure.

Anyway, the Cattery is safe from the encroaching waters of the Southern Ocean. This is good as most cats don’t really like water, although with the way the Geelong version have been playing this past decade, it probably wouldn’t matter anyway – You get the feeling that they’d still be putting together slick plays at a depth Jacques Cousteau would have balked at.

Manuka Oval (StarTrack Oval) – GWS Giants.

Manuka is in Canberra, the seat of federal political power in Australia. Natural justice would suggest that our leaders, some of whom don’t seem to believe that global warming is real, should go down with the ship if it comes to that, but at an elevation of 570m and being situated a good distance from the coast, this will be an unlikely fate to befall this ground and our national parliament.

Yay.

Marrara Stadium (TIO Stadium) – Melbourne, Richmond.

Marrara is in Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory. The ground is set back from the coast and has an elevation of 14m so should be ok. Which is nice because inundation in the Territory can sometimes be associated with an influx of salt water crocodiles. Crocodiles did seem to do ok at football in ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’, however that example may have been: a. Played out with a round ball; and b. A work of fiction portrayed by an animated cartoon.

Melbourne Cricket Ground – Collingwood, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Richmond.

The spiritual home of Aussie rules is most likely safe – The elevation is around 17m and should any flood-waters make it onto the hallowed turf, the AFL offices in the Southern Stand will be launched to safety via a Saturn V rocket hidden in an attached light tower. From there, the AFL executive will relocate to the Moon or Tasmania, but most likely the Moon.

Stadium Australia (ANZ Stadium) – Sydney Swans, GWS Giants.

Situated in Sydney’s Olympic Park, Stadium Australia is at the comparably lofty altitude of 30m. The AFL’s expansion through the Sydney area is therefore secure from the effects of climate change. Bwah hah hah hah.

Subiaco Oval – Fremantle Dockers, West Coast Eagles

On the surface this isn’t too much of a problem for Western Australia’s 2 AFL outfits – Subi Oval sits a dry 30m higher than the Swan River estuary. This though is painting a false picture and it’s doing it with watercolors – For Subi Oval is set to be replaced in 2018 by a new facility in Burswood. The resultant elevation, layered on what was once a swampy wetland, will be a lowly 5m above the neighbouring estuary.

Awkward.

Fortunately the Dockers have prepared by: a. Using the height of Aaron Sandilands to out-ruck the waves; and b. Deploying inflatable anchors to supporters for flotation and stabilisation. The Eagles might be in trouble though.

Sydney Cricket Ground – Sydney Swans.

At an elevation of 40m, the SCG is going to stand above the encroaching seas like a lighthouse, a beacon for all that is grand about Australia’s game. It will also be as cramped as a lighthouse, with players earning a 50m bonus forced to make up the distance via spiral staircases.

Sydney Showground Stadium (Spotless Stadium) – GWS Giants.

Located adjacent to Stadium Australia, this picturesque facility is around 20m above sea level. The nearby Badu Mangroves could signal trouble for access though and create a need for some shallow-bottomed boats to ferry in the teams. I’m not too concerned though as the AFL has shown some willingness in the past to apply draught concessions for the Giants.

The Gabba – Brisbane Lions

Situated close to the Brisbane River and at an elevation of around 10m, The Gabba has historically been susceptible to the kind of flooding that would make even Terry Wallace, the coach who deployed the ‘superflood’ as a defensive tactic, head for higher ground. The outlook for the Brisbane Lions certainly doesn’t look good and that’s before we even consider the possibility of the water-table rising above the playing surface.

Also, lions aren’t natural swimmers.

Traeger Park – Melbourne.

This Alice Springs’ ground is about as far from any coast as it is possible to get on this wide island and it is at an altitude of 580m above sea level. If Traeger Park goes under then I reckon your best bet is to look for a dude building a big wooden ark, before convincing him that you’re a stand-out representative of your species. On recent playing form this is probably going to be difficult for some Melbourne players.

Wellington Regional Stadium (Westpac Stadium) – St Kilda.

Yeah, the AFL invasion of New Zealand will likely end in tears. The tears of a glacier.

Wellington Regional Stadium is located on the docks, with only Waterloo Quay between the stadium known as ‘The Cake Tin’, and Wellington Harbour. Given that ‘The Tin’ is at just 5m of elevation, the ‘Cake’ within is sure to get mighty soggy – This is ok for your Nan’s boozy trifle but in this case St Kilda will be facing their own Waterloo through a sheen of uncomfortably icy water.

York Park (Aurora Stadium) – Hawthorn.

Tasmania deserves an AFL team – A franchise in the Apple Isle could really float. Obviously this is a figure of speech, as while Launceston’s York Park is only 5m above sea level and is situated on the banks of the North Esk River, Tassie’s 2nd city is a fair way inland and should be ok – Plus attendees will have less distance to travel from the ferry landing to the game.

Which brings us to the end of our AFL round-the-grounds global sea-rise report. I’m not quite finished though…

I figured I’d wind this post up with a look at 1 more sporting ground – Bairiki National Stadium is located in South Tarawa, 1 of the coral atolls that make up Kiribati. This football (soccer) ground is perched on a narrow strip of land that separates the Pacific Ocean from a lagoon. The highest elevation across that sand bar is 3m – When the ice melts and the water rises, the people of Kiribati will need to find somewhere else to play footy.

They’ll also need to find somewhere else to live.

‘Cause It Won’t Be Too Long

2 Comments
  1. I have no doubt whatsoever nature has been permanently affected by what we’ve done to her and it isn’t going to end well. Where I live you’d have to be in total drug-induced denial to not acknowledge our weather is radically different from 30 years ago. And you’d have to be equally without your faculties to not know why. We’ve abused Mother Earth and she’s hissed off. As for the AFL, I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming campaign before the affected fields bid adieu. I enjoyed learning a bit more about the franchises. I imagine some of these stadiums are in beautiful settings…still visible and relatively dry.

    • Sadly, there are still some in denial down here – Fortunately they’re in the minority. Glad you got something out of the post Bruce – I wrote it with another, predominantly AFL, site in mind as a ‘guest’ post but my loyalty is ever for this 1.

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