The claim that sea level is rising dangerously, so that coastal cities will flood and islands will be submerged, has become a staple of global warming alarmism. Today’s Associated Press story on the Marshall Islands is a classic: “If an island state vanishes, is it still a nation?”
Encroaching seas in the far Pacific are raising the salt level in the wells of the Marshall Islands. Waves threaten to cut one sliver of an island in two. “It’s getting worse,” says Kaminaga Kaminaga, the tiny nation’s climate change coordinator.
The rising ocean raises questions, too: What happens if the 61,000 Marshallese must abandon their low-lying atolls? Would they still be a nation? With a U.N. seat? With control of their old fisheries and their undersea minerals? Where would they live, and how would they make a living? Who, precisely, would they and their children become? …
Nations have faded into history through secession — recently with the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, for example — or through conquest or ceding their territory to other countries. But “no country has ever physically disappeared, and it’s a real void in the law,” Gerrard said during an interview in New York.
The U.N. network of climate scientists projects that seas, expanding from heat and from the runoff of melting land ice, may rise by up to 1.94 feet (0.59 meters) by 2100, swamping much of the scarce land of coral atolls.
But the islands may become uninhabitable long before waves wash over them, because of the saline contamination of water supplies and ruining of crops, and because warming is expected to produce more threatening tropical storms. …
Meantime, a lingering drought this year led islanders to tap deeper into their wells, finding salty water requiring them to deploy emergency desalination units. And “parts of the islands are eroding away,” Kaminaga said, as undermined lines of coconut palms topple into the sea.
Entirely missing from the AP’s account was any discussion of certain basic questions–such as, is sea level actually rising? If so, how much? And why? As usual in such news stories, the AP simply defers to the alarmist projections of the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change.
If you want to read a rational assessment of these issues, you have to go elsewhere, like to this interview of Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner, probably the world’s leading expert on the rise and fall of oceans. To understand how pathetic the IPCC’s rising-sea-level hysteria is, you really need to read the entire interview. But here are a few excerpts:
[T]he sea level was indeed rising, from, let us say, 1850 to 1930-40. And that rise had a rate in the order of 1 millimeter per year. Not more. 1.1 is the exact figure. And we can check that, because Holland is a subsiding area; it has been subsiding for many millions of years; and Sweden, after the last Ice Age, was uplifted. So if you balance those, there is only one solution, and it will be this figure.
That ended in 1940, and there had been no rise until 1970; and then we can come into the debate here on what is going on, and we have to go to satellite altimetry….
Now, back to satellite altimetry, which shows the water, not just the coasts, but in the whole of the ocean. And you measure it by satellite. From 1992 to 2002, [the graph of the sea level] was a straight line, variability along a straight line, but absolutely no trend whatsoever. We could see those spikes: a very rapid rise, but then in half a year, they fall back again. But absolutely no trend, and to have a sea-level rise, you need a trend.
Dr. Morner explains where the IPCC’s alarmist estimate came from (he was one of the reviewers of the IPCC report; he was shocked to discover that there were no sea level experts among the authors of this part of the IPCC report):
Another way of looking at what is going on is the tide gauge. Tide gauging is very complicated, because it gives different answers for wherever you are in the world. But we have to rely on geology when we interpret it. So, for example, those people in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], choose Hong Kong, which has six tide gauges, and they choose the record of one, which gives 2.3 mm per year rise of sea level. Every geologist knows that that is a subsiding area. It’s the compaction of sediment; it is the only record which you shouldn’t use. And if that figure is correct, then Holland would not be subsiding, it would be uplifting. And that is just ridiculous. Not even ignorance could be responsible for a thing like that. So tide gauges, you have to treat very, very carefully. …
Then, in 2003, the same data set, which in their [IPCC’s] publications, in their website, was a straight line–suddenly it changed, and showed a very strong line of uplift, 2.3 mm per year, the same as from the tide gauge. … It looked as though they had recorded something; but they hadn’t recorded anything. It was the original one which they had suddenly twisted up, because they entered a “correction factor,” which they took from the tide gauge. So it was not a measured thing, but a figure introduced from outside. I accused them of this at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow–I said you have introduced factors from outside; it’s not a measurement. It looks like it is measured from the satellite, but you don’t say what really happened. And they answered, that we had to do it, because otherwise we would not have gotten any trend!
That is terrible! As a matter of fact, it is a falsification of the data set.
We have seen a great deal of that kind of fraudulent conduct from the United Nations and other global warming advocates. Dr. Mormer goes on to explain that projections of catastrophic sea level rise are based on computer modeling. But observation does not support the models; on the contrary, observation shows that the models are wrong. This is consistently true whenever we investigate claims of anthropogenic global warming.
Remember the AP’s claim that the Marshalls may become uninhabitable long before they are submerged because of “saline contamination of water supplies and ruining of crops?” Don’t be too quick to jump to the conclusion that saline contamination of water supplies is due to global warming and rising sea levels. Dr. Morner explains:
Another famous place is the Tuvalu Islands, which are supposed to soon disappear because they’ve put out too much carbon dioxide. There we have a tide gauge record, a variograph record, from 1978, so it’s 30 years. And again, if you look there, absolutely no trend, no rise. So, from where do they get this rise in the Tuvalu Islands?
Then we know that there was a Japanese pineapple industry which subtracted too much fresh water from the inland, and those islands have very little fresh water available from precipitation, rain. So, if you take out too much, you destroy the water magazine, and you bring sea water into the magazine, which is not nice. So they took out too much fresh water and in came salt water. And of course the local people were upset. But then it was much easier to say, “No, no! It’s the global sea level rising! It has nothing to do with our subtraction of fresh water.” So there you have it. This is a local industry which doesn’t pay.
United States taxpayers, on the other hand, will pay. Hence the novel legal questions that so intrigue the AP reporter. When investigating issues relating to climate change, it is always important to follow the money–a principle that seems never to have dawned on the Associated Press.