Another View -- Michael Sununu: ‘Facts are stubborn things’ for climate alarmists
Climate alarmists appear to be getting desperate. For three decades, they have been forecasting the end of days, yet Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated. We were told Arctic ice would be gone by now. It isn’t. We were told our children wouldn’t experience snowfalls. They will. We were told hurricanes would ravage our coastlines. It’s been 10 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the U.S.
Now the bogeyman is sea level rise. Claims of accelerated sea level rise are all fear and little fact. Professed climate expert Dr. Cameron Wake recently declared homes along the water in Portsmouth were in such danger that their owners should sell now. He stated we could see sea level rise six feet over the next 80 years. “I don’t mean to be hyperbolic here, but that’s the picture,” Wake stated.
Yes, the Earth is warming. It has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-1800s. There have been periods of cooling, warming, and relatively flat temperatures. The trend has been slowly increasing temperatures, but that is what Mother Nature has been doing for almost 200 years. Sea level has also been rising. Again, records show it has been rising for 200 years.
Any intelligent review of climate data — temperature data, sea level data, hurricane data, global sea ice data, drought data, snow cover data, etc. — shows very little change in long-term trends and no acceleration or rapid changes that can be associated with carbon dioxide levels.
And that is why statements such as Dr. Wake’s are irresponsible.
Looking specifically at sea level rise, there is substantial evidence to refute the outrageous claims made by alarmists. For several hundred years global sea level has risen about 1.5 to 2.5 mm per year +/- 0.5 mm. This is a change of 6-10 inches over a century, not even close to Dr. Wake’s fear mongering of six feet. More importantly, there has been no change in that long-term trend. The Wismar, Germany, record is one of the longest and most complete records of sea level rise in the world. It not only shows a long-term trend of 1.4 mm/year, but it shows no change in that trend (no acceleration over the past 50 years) since carbon dioxide levels have gone from 325 to 400 parts per million.
Long-term records from the Netherlands, Hawaii, Sydney, San Francisco, Panama, Trieste and all around the globe covering almost every major body of water show different rates of sea level rise but no changes in the long-term trends. The different rates of change are partly due to the raw data not accounting for glacial isostatic adjustment (the changes in land and sea floor “height” since the glaciers retreated 10,000 years ago), insolation and other regional factors. More importantly, the long term hasn’t changed in more than 100 years. We are not seeing accelerated sea level rise.
Here in New Hampshire, the Seavey Island (Piscataqua) sea level data go back to 1925 with a few brief breaks in the record. That data show that over the last 90 years, sea level in the Portsmouth area has gone up approximately 100 mm. Since the late 1960s, sea level in Portsmouth has basically been flat.
The Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level in Liverpool, England, has been compiling sea level records since 1933. It is not the only global data set for sea level, but it is comprehensive and has a substantial number of long dated data sets. You can browse yourself and see how the alarmists fear mongering about sea level is not justified.
In reality, the alarmists such as Dr. Wake do not have a good understanding of our climate. No one does. We don’t fully understand how the sun impacts our climate. We do not understand what causes El Niños to form and fade. We don’t understand how the atmosphere and our oceans interact. We don’t even understand how cloud formation works and what drives it. That lack of understanding doesn’t appear to have stopped the alarmists from peddling their fears. But their claims cannot stand up to scrutiny anymore. The facts are damning.
Michael Sununu is a consultant in Exeter who has been writing about climate change issues for the past 15 years.