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High sea

15 Jan 2020 | News Roundup

A reader points out that sea levels in Greta Thunberg’s hometown have been falling steadily since before Norway left Sweden. And some people find the projected flooding of UN headquarters by rising seas to be darkly amusing. And implausible. But not to worry, say the alarmists, you can worry because the oceans are coming for us. David Middleton points out a recent story in SciTech Daily with the headline “Unprecedented and Worrying Rise in Sea Levels Poses Serious Threat to Coastal Cities.” The story was about a study of Indian Ocean sea levels over 2000 years that said “Our data also confirm the acceleration of relative sea-level rise over the past two centuries and suggest that the current magnitude and rate of sea-level rise is not unprecedented.” Not unprecedented? As in the opposite of the headline you wrote? As for Australia, well, presumably alarmism still reigns even though actual sea levels there have… what’s this?... fallen for 6,000 years.

The Australian story is very interesting because of the contrast with our Dec. 4, 2019 post about how sea levels in the Maldives seem to have risen during the Little Ice Age then fallen instead of the expected reverse as cooling locked up water in glaciers and warming released it. According to Jennifer Marohasy, it’s believed that “global sea level has fallen by at least 2 metres since the Holocene high stand about 4,000 BC” during what is known as the Minoan Warm Period (not caused by CO2 for some reason). But, says Marohasy, geological evidence from the east coast of Australia suggests that water levels were as much as 1 metre higher during the Roman Warm Period (again for some reason not a wasteland) and lower by up to half a metre during the cooler Dark Ages and Little Ice Age, then probably rebounded due to the natural warming from 1870 or so onward. But as we’ve repeatedly said, climate is complex.

Alarmism not so much. We’re told soon the Netherlands will be under water despite their proximity to increasingly dry Stockholm. But that story, in Dutch News, admits that the Netherlands is sinking rather than the seas rising. Not to worry. Like everything else bad including diarrhea, it’s due to climate change. “Subsidence, thought to be as much as 5mm per year in some areas, is happening even faster than sea-level rise in the Netherlands, pushing the country even further below sea level. A temperature rise of 2 degrees and record-breaking summers, has lowered groundwater levels and drained the peat. This not only causes subsidence, but as the peat oxidises, increases our CO2 output.” So it’s not just caused by climate change, it’s causing it, in the usual runaway process.

Alarmism may be simplistic. But it’s also opportunistic. There was a recent story about how some villagers in what is now the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel built a big wall 7000 years ago and got flooded out anyway. “The study is notable in that the settlement, called Tel Hreiz, existed before modern industry, one of the key drivers of global warming, scientists said.” Suggesting what? That modern industry is not to blame for sea level rise?

Well, no, according to the Washington Post version: “’It’s the world’s oldest sea wall,’ said Jonathan Benjamin, a marine archaeologist at Flinders University in Australia. ‘It’s the first evidence of that very real problem that we’re dealing with today’ — though he was quick to stress the difference between the source of sea-level rise then (the natural aftermath of an ice age) and now (human-made global warming).” So it’s exactly what we’re dealing with today, namely sea level rise, except it’s not because now everything is man-made and thus the past natural kind illuminates the problem but is totally different. Because I mean you know like man.

The degree of jiggery-pokery with respect to sea levels would be astounding to anyone who had not followed the climate emergency debate since it was global warming. In fact the sea level rise has been pretty much constant since the end of the big melt before the Holocene Climate Optimum. But with climate change/global warming/climate emergency science something happens that is unknown elsewhere: the effect is constant but the cause changes.

The Daily Caller version of the story rightly noted that this story actually proves that climate change is not new, and says the current incredibly slow average rate of rise, roughly “the thickness of two pennies every year” is too slow to cause mass panic. It adds that James Hansen did warn in 1988 that New York City’s West Side Highway would be submerged by 2008 and, when he saw that it wasn’t, said anyway that “the planet could become practically ungovernable” as people flee flooded coastal cities. Just as that 2004 Pentagon study that predicted Siberian conditions due to warming in Britain by 2020 also said major European cities would sink beneath the waves.

Peter Schwartzstein warns in The Atlantic that this time is different. With specific reference to the eastern Mediterranean which has not only been turned into a garbage swamp by various local failed states but (wait for it) “The Med is warming at one of the fastest paces in the world” and, on a completely unrelated note, “is choked with plastic.” He proceeds to point to a lot of very real problems, mostly pollution due to “Years of economic and political dysfunction” including conflict. So are these the problem?

No, of course not. Rather “Most of the eastern Med still looks so stunning that it can be easy for the casual observer to disregard the rot. But it won’t maintain that veneer for much longer—because of climate change and rapid population growth”. Of course.

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