Once again the sceptic-friendly opinion pages of the Herald provide noted NZ denier Chris de Freitas with a platform to spout the most astonishing tripe. It seems CdF reacted badly to a Reuters report about Tuvalu’s concerns about sea level rise. So he rushes to assure the Pacific island nation that their problem has nothing to do with climate change:
There is some inundation evident on islands in Tuvalu, but global warming is not the cause. It is the result of erosion, sand mining and construction projects causing an inflow of sea water.
That’s a relief. An associate professor in the geography department at Auckland University knows better than the world’s climate scientists and the government of Tuvalu. I hope the people of Tuvalu are suitably relieved.
Unfortunately, Chris undermines his good deed by continuing to talk utter nonsense. And “utter” is a mild description.
It seems he’s content to repeat the error I corrected last November:
Despite this it is noteworthy that historical records show no acceleration in sea level rise in the 20th and 21st centuries. It is important to keep in mind that greenhouse gas-induced climate change can also act to substantially reduce sea level.
This is, of course, nonsense. Not only has sea level rise accelerated, but the potential for future rapid and large increases is causing increasing concern.
But there’s worse. The following paragraph left me quite breathless:
There is now a substantive body of research reported in peer-reviewed scientific journal literature that suggests that sea levels, which have been rising since the end of the last ice age (long before industrialisation), are likely to stabilise or fall in a greenhouse-warmed world.
Er, sorry, did he say a “substantive body of research” suggests sea levels might fall? This is pure fiction. CdF is usually very careful with his choice of (weasel) words, but if we take substantive to mean “substantial: having a firm basis in reality and being therefore important, meaningful, or considerable” (Princeton WordNet), then we can see that he is entirely wrong. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but substantive? No. That’s why the IPCC’s fourth report – a review of the extant scientific literature – found that sea levels are likely to rise. Since AR4, the current literature has suggested that SLR could exceed the AR4 projections by a considerable margin.
The Herald should choose its commentators on scientific matters with more care. Associate professor de Freitas is of course entitled to his views on the seriousness of climate change and its impact on Tuvalu and the rest of the world, but he should not be allowed to misrepresent the scientific literature in the nation’s leading newspaper. And the Herald should be ashamed of letting him get away with it.