In his 2006 “documentary” An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore said global sea level could rise by 20 feet (~6.1 meters) “in the near future.” How near, he didn’t define, but generally he’s been taken as meaning by the end of this century. That would require a rise rate of 64 mm/year.
In 2015, The Guardian, that the bloviating bastion of British Leftism, citing a study in Science, warned that even if we managed, as intended by the then-pending Paris climate agreement, to limit global warming to 2C by the end of this century, sea level could rise by 20 feet “in the long term” because we’d have committed the world to long-term melt of the Greenland and Antarctic ice masses. How long, the study and Brian Kahn, who works with Climate Central, part of The Guardian’s Environment Network and author of the Guardian article, didn’t define. Most laymen reading the headlines would be unlikely to think in terms of many hundreds to thousands of years. More likely they’d think in terms of this century—which is the scare the authors no doubt intended. That would require a rise rate of 72 mm/year.
In 2016 Gore’s climate guru James Hansen said, and the Guardian dutifully trumpeted, that without drastic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions to prevent rapid global warming, sea level could rise “several meters over a timescale of 50 to 150 years.” “Several” can mean as few as two (but usually means three or more), so let’s assume Hansen had only that in mind. That would require 13 to 40 mm/year.
In a more sane world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted in its 2007 Third Assessment Report that sea level would rise about 0.18 to 0.6 meter (about 0.59 to 2.0 feet) by the end of this century because of human-induced global warming. That would require a rise rate of about 2.06 to 7.23 mm/year.
To give you some sense of context, at Gore’s 64 mm/year, my home—17 miles inland in south Florida and 8 feet above sea level—would become beachfront property in 38 years; at Kahn’s 72 mm/year, 33.8 years; at Hansen’s 13 to 40 mm/year, 61 to 187 years; and at the IPCC’s preferred rate, 337 to 1,184 years.
These predictions all assume that sea-level rise is accelerating. That is, the water is rising faster and faster, the acceleration driven by global warming (which of course can only be human-induced, since as we all know global temperature was stable through all Earth’s history until the late 20th century when evil people began heating it up by carelessly spewing carbon dioxide into the air).
But is there good evidence that sea-level rise is accelerating?
Not according to one of the world’s foremost experts on sea level, Nils-Axel Mörner. Before his retirement in 2005 Mörner chaired the paleogeophysics and geodynamics department at Stockholm University. He was president of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) Commission on Neotectonics in the 1980s, and later was Chairman of INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution and led the INTAS (International Association for the promotion of cooperation with scientists from the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union) Project on Geomagnetism and Climate (1997–2003).
His article “Sea Level Manipulation” in the August issue of International Journal of Engineering Science Invention argues that satellite altimetry, the preferred method of measuring sea level among IPCC scientists, has been manipulated to yield estimates of sea-level rise rate in keeping with the IPCC’s climate models’ projections of about 3 mm/year. The more empirically driven data from tide gauges around the world, he says, show no acceleration in the long-term rate of sea-level rise, which vary “between ±0.0 and +1.0 mm/yr; i.e. values that pose no problems in coastal protection.” (Caveat: If you read Mörner’s article, keep in mind that he’s writing in a foreign language—the grammar’s terrible!)
In short, for Gore to be right, sea-level rise would have to be at least 64 times faster than Mörner’s estimate; for Kahn’s, 72 times; for Hansen’s, 13 to 40 times; for the IPCC’s, 2 to 7 times.
At the rate Mörner estimates, my home won’t become beachfront property for at least 2,438 years—or perhaps for eternity. Sigh. I like the beach.
Featured image “Ventura Beach House” by by Steven L. Shepard, Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs, Flickr Creative Commons.