June 4th 2016

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Gross desserts on the sex-education menu

CANBERRA OBSERVED Suggested parallel less a Murphy than a furphy

EDITORIAL Obama rewards Vietnam: a particularly nasty regime

ENVIRONMENT Land sinkage, not rising sea levels, the real threat

LIFE ISSUES Who am I? Baby's first memoir

SOCIETY Haircuts and tattoos: new rebels get funky

LIFE POLICY Queensland abortion bill is out of step with voters

SEXUAL POLITICS Gay 'marriage' and the given in human procreative behaviour (part 1)

RURAL LIFE Some of the reasons why farmers need a new bank

It's a queer theory that says kids can transgender (Part Two of two)

MUSIC Digital sonics by no means free of glitches

CINEMA Action movie lacks punch: X-Men: Apocalypse

BOOK REVIEW Tragic betrayal

BOOK REVIEW Great reformer or great dictator?

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Land sinkage, not rising sea levels, the real threat

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, June 4, 2016

Over recent years, alarming stories about rising sea levels have been widely reported as “proof” of the imminent risk of global warming, when the main cause of any rise is land subsidence.

“I know what I said.

Now I’m saying ‘climate disruption’.”

Bodies such as the Climate Council have taken a leading role in blaming coastal flooding on global warming.

A 2014 report, Counting the Costs: Climate Change and Coastal Flooding, co-authored by Professors Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes, said: “Sea level has already risen and continues to rise due to climate change. Climate change exacerbates coastal flooding from a storm surge as the storm rides on higher sea levels.

“Australia is highly vulnerable to increasing coastal flooding because our cities, towns and critical infrastructure are mainly located on the coast. Australia’s infrastructure has been built for the climate of the 20th century and is unprepared for rising sea levels.”

The implication is that coastal areas are threatened only by rising sea levels, when land subsidence is a far more serious problem.

Tidal gauges

The importance of land subsidence is evident from tidal gauge data, which has been collected in many parts of the world (including Australia) for the past century or more.

If rising sea levels caused by global warming were the main driving force, we would expect that around the world, data from tidal gauges would show a uniform rise in sea levels. Yet they show no such thing, even in areas that are relatively close to one another.

Data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has online national sets of tidal data for cities in North America and Europe, show that while there was an average rise of about 15 centimetres (6 inches) over the 20th century, some cities have shown a rise in sea levels, while others have seen a fall. Over Scandinavia, sea levels have fallen, indicating that the land mass is rising there. Over continental Europe, sea levels have risen.

In North America, there are divergent trends. Sea levels on the Pacific Ocean (west coast) have fallen, but on the east coast, where there is higher population density, sea levels have risen, sometimes markedly, showing that the east coast is gradually sliding into the Atlantic Ocean.

Florida, a very flat part of the United States, is also sliding into the sea.

One reason given for the land sinkage in the east is the long-term effect of the melting of the ice-sheet that covered much of North America during the last Ice Age. As the ice melted, the land under it rose, and the edges of the continental shelf that had been curled upwards, are now falling.

Another important conclusion from tidal data is that there has been no acceleration in sea level rises since 1950, anywhere in the world. This is most interesting, as 75 per cent of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide derived from human activity came after 1950. If CO2 were in fact driving rising sea levels, the rate of sea level rise would be expected to increase, as CO2 levels in the atmosphere rise. This is not happening.

The Climate Sanity website observes: “There has been no obvious acceleration in sea-level rise rates since 1950 as seen from tide gauges. Extrapolating tide gauge time series to 2100 would give about 15 centimetres of sea-level rise between 2000 and 2100.” (A period of 100 years.)

For comparison, the daily variation from high tide to low tide averages 2 metres, 13 times as large.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the climate alarmists have latched on to those areas of apparent rising sea levels to blame climate change.

For example, the American National Public Radio (NPR) network, equivalent of Australia’s ABC, reported recently from Florida that “Rising sea levels made this Republican mayor a climate change believer” (May 17, 2016).

Another article in left-wing newspaper The Guardian showed what looked like a fake picture of ocean waves surging through the city of Miami. Guardian science editor Robin McKie reported in July 2014: “Miami, the great world city, is drowning while the powers that be look away.”

There are many reasons why sea levels are unlikely to rise suddenly over future decades.

Water expands as it warms up, so increased temperatures of the oceans will tend to cause rising sea levels. However, satellite observations show that there has been no significant increase in surface water temperatures over recent decades.

Further, the melting of sea ice can also affect sea levels.

Although there are huge variations in the extent of Arctic Sea ice ever year, ranging from a maximum of 16 million square kilometres down to about 4 million, and in recent years, the ice minimum has been falling, there has been no decline in sea ice around Antarctica, and the amount of sea ice around the world has remained constant.

All this suggests that there is no evidence for any immediate change in the long-term trend, and no reason for alarmist predictions of rising sea levels caused by climate change.

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