Seven feet high and rising

Plan for two metres sea level rise this century. That’s the message from Rob Young and Orrin Pilkey in a Yale Environment article published today.

“This number is not a prediction. But we believe that seven feet is the most prudent, conservative long-term planning guideline for coastal cities and communities, especially for the siting of major infrastructure; a number of academic studies examining recent ice sheet dynamics have suggested that an increase of seven feet or more is not only possible, but likely. Certainly, no one should be expecting less than a three-foot rise in sea level this century.”

The two professors are authors of a recently published book The Rising Sea which I expect to review on Hot Topic in the near future. But in the meantime a brief report of their article:

“Rising seas will be on the front lines of the battle against changing climate during the next century. Our great concern is that as the infrastructure of major cities in the industrialized world becomes threatened, there will be few resources left to address the dramatic impacts that will be facing the citizens of the developing world.”

The ramifications of major sea level rise are massive.  The disruption of agriculture, the salination of water supplies, storm and flood waters reaching ever further inland, and the creation of millions of climate refugees. 15 million people live at or below three feet elevation in Bangladesh, for example.

Most vulnerable are the deltas of major rivers, including the Mekong, Irrawaddy, Niger, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Nile, and Mississippi:

“Here, land subsidence will combine with global sea level rise to create very high rates of what is known as ‘local, relative sea level rise.’ The rising seas will displace the vast majority of people in these delta regions. Adding insult to injury, in many parts of Asia the rice crop will be decimated by rising sea level – a three-foot sea level rise will eliminate half of the rice production in Vietnam – causing a food crisis coincident with the mass migration of people.”

When it comes to cities Miami is the most threatened in the world.  Other US cities under threat include New York/Newark, New Orleans, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa-St Petersburg, and San Francisco. Outside of North America Osaka/Kobe, Tokyo, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Nagoya are among the most threatened major cities.

The writers are concerned that the US is not preparing realistically for what lies ahead. “The continued development of many low-lying coastal areas – including much of the U.S. east coast – is foolhardy and irresponsible.”

They recommend the immediate prohibition of the construction of high-rise buildings and major infrastructure in areas vulnerable to future sea level rise. Buildings placed in future hazardous zones should be small and movable – or disposable. Rebuilding and replacing infrastructure after storm damage should be queried and not supported by government funding if it remains vulnerable. Local governments should not be left with responsibility as they are too influenced by local interests.

How would this sort of realism go down in New Zealand?  Currently local bodies are advised to plan for a 59 cm rise and to consider what an 80 cm rise might mean.  Environment Minister Nick Smith has said the government is working to establish a national environmental standard on planning for sea levels, and hopes it will be in place this year, after public consultation. However he added that it was likely that councils would still be required to plan for a rise of 59cm, and said: “The Government is not going to consider adjusting its policy every week.” One’s dignity can prove a precarious perch on which to stand.

If you can bear looking at the human cost of sea level rise, already being experienced in the Sundarbans around the mouth of the Ganges, this photograph exhibition from Peter Caton has just been published in the Guardian. An earlier Guardian article carries videos of families forced from their villages by flooding and sea inundation. Sea level rise is no distant prospect.

63 thoughts on “Seven feet high and rising”

  1. Two meters sea level rise??? Hilarious! But hey TEN meters is way more scary and will get the media attention they clearly crave. I recommend ten meters.

    I mean where do you find these idiots?

  2. Gareth, may I pick a few nits? I don’t want to argue with the authors nut I would not that they are a bit on the lower end of what various parties have predicted, and the last prediction I recall from the IPCC was under a meter. Change the assumptions, change the outcome.

    However, in your litany of US cities, New Orleans is already below the river level of the Mississippi. For a further look at that situation see John McPhee, The Control of Nature.

    Uncontrolled deltas (absence of levees and such) are actually somewhat accreting landforms where the various rates of rise and subsidence combine to promote stasis. The Carboniferous provides ample evidence sometimes this is true for prolonged periods, and sometimes not.

    San Francisco itself is built on a series of hills and they are not small rises. Some of the surrounding area, China Basin and the airport, and others in the Bay Area, could be affected. By the same token, these ares could be substantially raised or lowered by earthquake activity, and since they are on a major fault I would tend to think that is a greater issue.

    The general issue of development in low-lying seacoast areas on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts is one where the Gov’t has required the insurance companies to cover all losses, so people build on the seashore for the waterfront value and knowing the Gov’t has decreed they will be covered for all losses, except slow sea level rise. Don’t matter, hurricanes/coastal storms will be more likely to wipe them out. The same is true on the few low-lying areas on the West Coast, absent hurricanes.

    Their recommendations on low lying areas are likely valid (my view) but more for existing and known events with a demonstrated record of destruction than for speculative predictions.

    Just think, “If Present Trends Continue” and were applied when you were about 13, you would no be over 12′ tall. ;>)

    Terry

  3. AGW-Denier

    “I mean where do you find these idiots?”

    You will find idiot number one Rob Young as a Professor of Geosciences at Western Carolina University. Idiot number two Orrin Pilkey is Professor Eneritus of Geology at Duke University. The universities are full of idiots who take global warming seriously.

    Do you have some knowledge that you could share with us to show that the sea level rise fears are groundless?

  4. Bryan: “If you can bear looking at the human cost of sea level rise, already being experienced in the Sundarbans around the mouth of the Ganges, this photograph exhibition from Peter Caton has just been published in the Guardian.”

    From the link, “The seas around the islands in the Bay of Bengal that support a unique mangrove ecosystem are rising faster than anywhere else on Earth”

    How would AGW cause sea levels to rise faster in the Bay of Bengal than elsewhere? Is it possible that something other than AGW is causing the sinking of these islands?

    That doesnt stop the other link you posted ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/04/bangladesh-climate-migration-trail ) writing a full article on how climate change is causing “climate migrants” to move to Dhaka. I guess AGW works in mysterious ways.

  5. Terry, you talk of “speculative predictions”. They’re considerably more than speculative, I would have thought, as Gareth’s recent post indicates. And the authors are in any case careful to say they’re not predicting so much as being sensibly cautionary.

  6. C3Po

    I can’t answer your question specifically in relation to the islands in the Bay of Bengal. I’m not a scientist, but what I read makes it clear that sea level rise varies in different parts of the globe, affected by such things as temperature, currents, and other natural factors.

    I don’t think there is anything mysterious about the phenomenon of climate refugees in places like the Sundarbans. There will, after all, be millions such as sea level rise continues.

  7. Bryan Walker:

    “You will find idiot number one Rob Young as a Professor of Geosciences at Western Carolina University. Idiot number two Orrin Pilkey is Professor Eneritus of Geology at Duke University. The universities are full of idiots who take global warming seriously.

    Do you have some knowledge that you could share with us to show that the sea level rise fears are groundless?”

    **********************************************************

    Gee they must be really brainy and thus utterly immune to scientific fads, fashions, deceit, exaggeration, lies and wanting to see their names in print, not to mention benefit from whatever research grants are being showered upon them to ‘prove’ there’s YET ANOTHER catastrophe just around the corner! And the Pope is infallible.

    Do I have some knowledge that I could share to show that the sea level rise fears are groundless? Ahhmmmm YES! It is pure GUESS work! Your “fears” of being drowned are based on conjecture, assumption and wild speculation.

    Oh and computer models. Can’t forget them. Yes, models. Models Schmodels. And lo! The models doth say, “And the seas will rise by nine hundred feet!” Ipso facto, it MUST be true! Ye verily it is a FACT! And the loopy leftist Gore-worshiping fruit-loops believe it as though it were spoken by Chicken Little himself.

    Chicken Little once warned, “The sky is falling!”
    And the sceptics said bullshit you twerpy little moron!
    But then all the frightened little chickens who believed him, said to the naughty heretic sceptics, “Do you have have some knowledge that you could share with us to show that the sky is NOT falling?”

    And you know the rest of the story. Chicken Little got a flash job with the IPCC.

    1. So you haven’t anything useful to add.
      Your faith in your belief has to be admired, if little else.
      Let’s get one thing straight. No one wants Global Warming. Just some of us recognise that it is happening, that humans are the cause, and if humans don’t do something about it real soon, your 10m and more of sea level rise is going to happen. End of story.

    2. “It is pure GUESS work!”

      Sorry sunshine your got that spectacularly wrong, we know this because it’s happened before. But I suspect we will have a whole lot more to worry about than wet feet long before we get to 7 meters.

  8. I guess C3 that the geophysicist’s know which parts of the planet happen to be on parts of plates that are subsiding. So added to the rising sea levels and the subsiding land you have exaggerated rises in certain areas perhaps Bay of Bengal? Just a hunch mind you, but what would you think?
    Also the ocean’s temperature varies widely as you probably appreciate. As it heats up water expands as you well know. So various parts of the ocean could rise quicker than other parts because they are heating up more quickly, eg Bay of Bengal a shallow area of water close to the equator. Just a hunch mind you but what would you think?

    1. Thanks for the reply.

      I would be speculating also, but I presume that Bangladesh is simply one of the low lying regions of the world that has been slowly eaten away by the sea for millennia such as New Orleans and The Netherlands.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floods_in_the_Netherlands

      Sea levels have been rising for a long time, since the end of the last ice age in fact.

      In terms of the land subsiding, I doubt that is the case here. The Indo-Australian Plate is currently moving towards the Eurasian Plate, hence the Himalayas, so would be pushing Bangladesh up. I do think it is sad when people suffering from land subduction such as the Tuvaluan’s are tricked into thinking their suffering is preventable and the fault of Western Society.

      Don’t know how thermal expansion works, if it does cause increased sea level rise in the bay of Bengal I would love to learn more. I would speculate it is increased in deep water as there is more mass to expand (the aggregate level of rise is higher not the percentage I mean).

      All that said I will emphasis that I don’t think sea level can be stopped until the next glacial period arrives, at which time the level of the sea will be the least of our worries. Find me a time in history when sea levels stayed stationary for more than 100 years and I will be proven wrong.

      1. “Sea levels have been rising for a long time, since the end of the last ice age in fact.” – C3.

        Yes, but not in a wholly linear or consistent manner, much of the sea level rise occurred when the large continental ice sheets melted and tapered off some 7000 years ago, after those ice sheets were gone. In the last 7 thousand years it has been relatively stable until an uptick in the last couple of centuries.

        http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_intro.html

        “In terms of the land subsiding, I doubt that is the case here” – C3.

        The Sundarbans are sinking, hence the exhibition “The sinking Sundarbans”.

        http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a907649948&db=all

        The Bay of Bengal demonstrates large seasonal variation in sea level due to the localized heating from the Monsoon. And like our Pacific Island cousins the immediate threat is due to storm surges – i.e. greater storm intensity means larger waves and higher sea levels. Apart from the obvious danger of inundation the surges drive salt into low lying soils effectively poisoning them.

        “All that said I will emphasis that I don’t think sea level can be stopped until the next glacial period arrives, at which time the level of the sea will be the least of our worries” – C3

        Sorry to disappoint, but the next couple of Ice Ages may have been postponed:

        http://geosci-webdev.uchicago.edu/~archer/reprints/archer.2005.trigger.pdf

      2. “Sea levels have been rising for a long time, since the end of the last ice age in fact.”

        A bit of calculation suggests that this is not true – if the current rate of ~2mm per year had been going on for thousands of years then you’re looking at 2 metres per millenium. Historical records show that there hasn’t been anywhere near that much rise in the last several thousand years (4-5m since the Greeks?). So the current rate is certainly much faster than what has happened over the previous few thousand years.

  9. AGW-denier

    The closest you came to answering my question was saying that the sea level rise predictions are based on conjecture, assumption and wild speculation.

    Could you indicate what conjectures and assumptions you have in mind, so that we could discuss them? And spare us the abuse next time. We try to maintain a reasonable tone in exchanges on this website.

  10. Bryan Walker:

    “Could you indicate what conjectures and assumptions you have in mind, so that we could discuss them? And spare us the abuse next time. We try to maintain a reasonable tone in exchanges on this website.”

    It’s sarcasm. Can’t help sarcasm with crap like this.

    Anyway, so you want to know what conjectures and assumptions I have in mind? Where were you when this article was first posted? We are talking about a supposed two meter rise in sea levels. THAT is the conjecture I’m talking about. What else could it be?

    And yes obviously it is indeed conjecture. Do you know what the word means? Clearly Mr. Rob Young and Orrin Piker are guessing. I realise of course their wild guess is based on the alleged infallibility of computer models, but then that’s precisely why it’s speculation. As opposed to a fact. Something you may not be so familiar with.

    1. “And yes obviously it is indeed conjecture. Do you know what the word means? Clearly Mr. Rob Young and Orrin Piker are guessing. I realise of course their wild guess is based on the alleged infallibility of computer models, but then that’s precisely why it’s speculation” – AGW denialobot

      Yeah, the experts sure have a habit of underestimating sea level rise:

      http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_proj_obs_vs_proj.html

      Note how the satellite altimetry data are outside the range of projections from IPCC 2001 (and 1995 too).

  11. Good Day Gents: As an author of the article in question, maybe I can help clear up some of the confusion. But first, let me say that it is no wonder that many scientists choose not to participate in the public arena when posting an article with scientific content about something as straightforward as sea level rise gets one labeled as an “idiot” or a “lira” by those who have lost the ability to engage in reasoned public debate.

    Rising sea level is one of the most visible and least controversial aspects of global change. There is no debate surrounding the question of sea level rise. We have been measuring changing ocean levels for more than a century via tide gages and for more than a decade via satellite. Sea level is rising. There is no doubt. Currently, the global ocean is rising at a rate of approximately 35 cm per century. The rate along any given shoreline may be higher or lower depending upon local tectonics and variability in ocean circulation and surface temperatures. The vast scientific consensus is that the rate of SLR will increase throughout the next 100 years resulting in 1 to 2 m of rise. These numbers do not come from computer models, rather they come from an educated, consensus-based projection regarding how the current rate of rise may accelerate if ice sheet melting continues. Yes, this is an estimate, but it is an honest estimate. It is important to keep in mind that even the rock-bottom, guaranteed projection of 35 cm of SLR by 2100 will drive major geomorphic change and major management challenges for all low elevation, vulnerable areas.

    Our article simply argues that prudent coastal managers should be planning for up to two meters of SLR not because we guarantee it will happen, but because it might happen. By the way, this kind of conservative thinking is implicit in the way that New Zealand delineates coastal hazard zones. Sea level rise is considered and a safety factor is typically added to the hazard zone in order to have a very conservative approach. Getting local communities thinking about what would happen if Sea level rose 2m is an important first step.

    Cheers
    Rob

    1. Rob, thanks for the comments.

      There is a bit of a difference between the 35cm/century rate of observed rise and the 200 centimeters you are using, and you have good reasons for picking that number. Given all the things that have been “predicted” in the popular press, it should not be surprising to be on the receiving end of a bit of sarcasm.

      Glad to see you taking the time and effort to engage in the conversation/debate. Just please reassure me that sea level has not been ‘adjusted’ and ‘ homogenized’ and the original data discarded.

      Terry

  12. “Just please reassure me that sea level has not been ‘adjusted’ and ‘ homogenized’ and the original data discarded” – Terry.

    Why?. You’ll just believe it’s all part of the conspiracy.

  13. Rob Young, thanks for dropping by and contributing to the thread. I’m sorry you were exposed to the inane abuse uttered by AGW-denier. It seems to be all he has to offer, even when invited to calm down and advance some reasons for his agitation. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing your book.

  14. Macro: “Let’s get one thing straight. No one wants Global Warming.” Eh? What?? Excuse me but I do! Global warming sounds like a splendid idea to me. If only it were true. Do you think cold is better?

    Now back to the “sea levels are rising and we’re all going to die!” myth. Yes indeed. Except that they aren’t. And certainly not as a result of Bryan Walker’s carbon footprint.

    “If one thing more than any other is used to justify proposals that the world must spend tens of trillions of dollars on combating global warming, it is the belief that we face a disastrous rise in sea levels. The Antarctic and Greenland ice caps will melt, we are told, warming oceans will expand, and the result will be catastrophe.

    “If there is one scientist who knows more about sea levels than anyone else in the world it is the Swedish geologist and physicist Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly chairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change. And the uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner, who for 35 years has been using every known scientific method to study sea levels all over the globe, is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story.

    Despite fluctuations down as well as up, “the sea is not rising,” he says. “It hasn’t risen in 50 years.” If there is any rise this century it will “not be more than 10cm (four inches), with an uncertainty of plus or minus 10cm”. (http://tinyurl.com/d4zayx)

    So in other words, sea levels rising by seven feet is just more alarmist crap. As usual.

    But wait there’s more: Despite what the alarmists are saying (because let’s face it, they always need something to be frightened of), when you plot the actual data, guess what happens… yes you are correct! You get a slight DOWNWARD trend! According to data from the University of Colorado. “The result was surprising. A slight negative trend”. See here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/10/29/north-carolina-sea-levels-rising-3mm-a-year-uc-sea-level-data-says-differently/

    Next myth please.

  15. Sorry, I missed the actual evidence for your claims. I’m sure you’ve got some to justify your opinions. Scientific papers, and all that stuff?

    Watts doesn’t count. That’s just a propagandist site for the Faithful, the True Believers. Has nothing to do with truth and verified facts.

  16. The “Faithful, the True Believers”? Believers in what? But that’s the point. I DON’T believe it!

    Yes and naturally no sceptical argument of any sort will “count” as far as the alarmists are concerned.

  17. “The “Faithful, the True Believers”? Believers in what? But that’s the point. I DON’T believe it!

    Yes and naturally no sceptical argument of any sort will “count” as far as the alarmists are concerned.”

    Well, it seems you do believe things that aren’t true, that are unproven, without any basis but dodgy websites like Watt’s. That’s the only “evidence” you’ve offered.

    But you don’t accept any scientific evidence. You have produced no facts to support your beliefs at all, and it’s clear your arguments are based on what you want to believe. That’s not being sceptical; that’s being credulous. That’s being a Denialist.

    A question: where do you get your ideas and information from?

  18. But my dear Johnmacmot therein lies the problem. Any and all evidence I do present is summarily dismissed as invalid, regardless. All sceptical arguments are invalid and don’t count because they are sceptical. Clearly only alarmist evidence counts so there’s little point debating anything. Am I right or am I right? That’s why you guys keep saying “the debate is over!”. You shut your ears to it and pretend you can’t hear, like naughty little children.

    So here’s an interesting question: Does Nils-Axel Mörner count? I mentioned him just earlier, but I note you carefully avoided mentioning him and concentrated on Watt. Does Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels, Philip Stott, Piers Corbyn, Tim Ball, Vincent Gray, Bob Carter, Chris de Freitas, John Daly count? Do any of these 31,400 other scientists count: http://www.petitionproject.org/ ?

    No of course not. Because they are all sceptics. There will always be some trumped up desperate ad hoc reason to dismiss or ignore them because they don’t sing the alarmist tune.

    So I’ll leave all you Chicken Littles to wait for the sky to fall. You’ll be waiting a long time of course because it’s another myth like the Big Bad Seven Foot Sea Level Rise children’s story. So good luck with that. I’ve got better things to do, like drive around in my nice SUV heating up the planet just for you guys.

    1. Morner’s nonsense has been roundly rubbished in the peer-reviewed literature: Church et al felt (2006)* moved to point out:

      Mörner’s conclusions concerning a sea-level fall at the Maldives have been firmly rebutted by Woodworth (2005), Woodroffe (2005) and Kench et al. (2005).

      Touting him as an expert will only get you laughed at.

      * JA Church et al, Sea-level rise at tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, Global and Planetary Change, 2006 vol. 53 (3) pp. 155-168

    2. “So here’s an interesting question: Does Nils-Axel Mörner count?” -AGW denier

      Certainly, but as a crank. You were aware that he is a staunch believer in water divining?. You know where one walks around with a wishbone shaped stick, and it wiggles and supposedly finds water deep underground. Even worse, he published a paper trying to establish some sort of scientific basis for such quackery. Some “expert” you got there.

      http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/33225_Kook_Lies_About_Lies

  19. Not too surprised with that list of “experts”! Appealing to their authority without presenting some convincing evidence to back up your views doesn’t give any justification for your aggressive approach. It’s certainly not going to impress knowledgeable people; in fact, it has the opposite effect.

    Mind you, I see you’ve left, and don’t want to sustain the discussion. I’m not surprised at that either! 🙂

  20. Maybe he just learned about the current status of PIG.
    It’s a wee bit past it’s ‘Best Before Date’.
    It’s an awful thing to have 2 km of ice hanging over one’s head when ranting.

  21. Seems a lot of hot air (no pun) above about some minor aspects.

    Facts seem to be:
    1. Climate is changing.
    2. Probably (actually almost certainly) nothing to do with CO2
    3. Stop wasting money on ETS scams and spend the money on coastal protection – much more use.

    However dont spend it on places that are sinking – like New Orleans which has sunk 1 metre over the last 50 years and will continue to sink. Many other places the same is happening.

    I am looking forward to a warmer climate. More plant growth – thus more food and energy thus more prosperous society. How do I know – look at history.

    1. You make some pretty broad-brush assertions there, perhaps you could offer some scientific evidence that shows over 150 years of research (since Tyndall in the 1850’s) demonstrating C02 is a greenhouse gas and absorbs infra-red radiation is wrong?

      The science makes it pretty clear that on our current path we’ll be very lucky to avoid less than 3 or 4 degrees of warming. So I’d also be interested to know when in history human society was more prosperous than now and global temperatures 3 or 4 degrees warmer?
      After-all, if you can’t show a period in history when this occurred, all you have to go on is your uncertain (and rather unscientific) guesswork.

    2. “More plant growth – thus more food”

      See: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1954190,00.html

      “…the plants most sensitive to carbon enrichment tend to be the weeds.”

      “….. in arid parts of the tropics, he says, where plant growth is limited by the availability of water, more frequent droughts could make things worse. “Large parts of the world,” says Field, “are already at the warm edge of where things like to grow.”

  22. “2. Probably (actually almost certainly) nothing to do with CO2” – Noitall

    Bzzzzzt wrong. Nearly 200 years of scientific research show otherwise.

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/

    “However dont spend it on places that are sinking – like New Orleans which has sunk 1 metre over the last 50 years and will continue to sink. Many other places the same is happening.”- Noitall

    Yes, river deltas tend to sink when humans interfere with the natural accumulation of sediment in such areas, and build on unstable land prone to subsidence. Your claim however is misleading, isolated parts of New Orleans have subsided by up to a meter over 50 years, but the average subsidence was 0.25 mtrs.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v441/n7093/abs/441587a.html?lang=en

    None of which alters the fact that global sea levels are rising.

    “I am looking forward to a warmer climate. More plant growth – thus more food and energy thus more prosperous society. How do I know – look at history.” – Noitall

    If only it were that simple:

    http://www.preventionweb.net/files/1090_foodproduction.pdf

  23. One of the problems with climate change is that everyone wants certainty (eg: seas will rise 2.30744 metres, or temperature will rise exactly 4.27183C), or everyone thinks that they know the exact answer about what will happen in future. Or everyone has their list of references which they think proves the point. And Im really referring here to those who seem to have gotten the new religion of “believing in global warming”.

    We should never forget about Copernicus (who challenged the belief at the time that the earth was the centre of the universe) or Aristotle (who opined that the earth was probably round and not flat.) Both were shunned (I think Copernicus was burnt at the stake for his outrageous outburst!) for what was in effect, an exercise in applying some intellectual horsepower to a scientific problem.

    We know now that the famous hockey stick graph that Al Gore proudly threatened the world with was actually a dishonest bit of religious propaganda. And talking religious, since the time of Christ the world has been a couple of degrees hotter and colder than it is now. The hockey stick graph left these bits of history out.
    The hockey stick graph lacked a lot of applied intellectual honesty.

    The world is warming – probably- and thats about all we know.

    In history temperature rises have usually been accompanied by good times for mankind and temperature drops have usually been associated with pestilence and population decreases.

    In my field, we use increased CO2 levels in greenhouses along with raised temperatures to give better plant growth. We are also seeing the improvements that come from genetic developments. I have no doubt that in the next 50 years we will see the elimination of many pests and diseases by the use of GM. Yes – temperature rise might bring pests and diseases into new areas, but I have full confidence that by the use of GM these problems will be overcome – by human ingenuity just like many others have in the past. Im sure our predecessors thought inoculation was something terrible at some stage!!..

    What though has really alarmed me is that in the last year when the evidence about CO2 and human caused climate changed has been questioned – is the acidic and arrogant and extreme response from those who believe in human caused climate change. They seem to have a view as extreme as the muslims in that any questioning of their belief is so utterly wrong. There was the the same attitude to Copurnicus and Aristotle back then and we know this belief was blinded by their ignorance of truth. I’m thinking that these days its not ignorance but idiocy that leads them to their extremes. They are certainly not taking a scientific approach anyway.

    Have a look at this blog. http://poneke.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/gate/ He’s read all 1000+ of the leaked (actually that should be called ‘released’ as they were paid for by tax payer money) emails from the East Anglia polytechnic and have a read of some of the arrogant acidic and corrosive responses of some of the “true believers”.

    1. What a lot of rubbish in one posting…

      “One of the problems with climate change is that everyone wants certainty (eg: seas will rise 2.30744 metres, or temperature will rise exactly 4.27183C)”
      The only person I have ever read wanting such ‘certainty’ is yourself.

      Hockey stick and Al Gore – You should get the video out and watch it, you might learn something. The only ‘hockey stick’ shown in the film was the unprecedented rise in CO2.

      Copernicus… You should check who was on the side of the scientific establishment in that case (and no, he wasn’t burnt at all)

      ” I’m thinking that these days its not ignorance but idiocy that leads them to their extremes. They are certainly not taking a scientific approach anyway.”
      Never were truer words spoken in self-reference

  24. Knowitall

    You obviously have not a clue about the work of thousands of scientists who in many different fields have contributed to our understanding of climate change. Leave your denialist websites alone for a while and do some serious reading. Engage with the science, which, by the way, never claims certainty.

  25. Warming is good: Unless you happen to live on a small, Pacific atoll. In which case, your entire nation may need to be abandoned. Or, maybe you live in Bangladesh, or within a few dozen kilometers of any of the worlds largest subsiding deltas where rising sea level may displace millions while threatening the rice production that fed those millions. Maybe GM will save these folks. But, I wouldn’t want to bet my society on it. Warming is good… Unless you live in an area were you depend on mountain glacier meltwater for irrigation or drinking water and you find that your water supplies are drying up. Or, you live in a city like Venice or Miami where rising sea level is already impacting storm water run-off and public safety. Maybe you live in northern Canada, where for 100 years you have relied on permafrost underlain winter roads for the primary overland access to your community, and that permafrost is now thawing.

    The idea that global warming is good depends on where you sit.

    In addition, CO2 may be good for some plants (to an extent), but it is murder on the ocean. Increased CO2 leads to surface water acidification and a decrease in the ability of corals and other carbonate secreting organisms to form a shell.

    And yes, the planet has warmed an cooled in the past. But not in conjunction with the level of human development and society we have today. Put aside the debate over causation for a minute, and let us all admit that there will be big changes over the next century from global warming. Maybe some segments of society will benefit, but many will be devastated. Especially those who do not have the funds to respond, adapt, or move.

    Cordially
    Rob

  26. The paper cited was about planning on or for a 2 meter rise in sea level, especially for low-lying areas. But as a practical matter these areas already experience 2 meter or more storm surges and tsunamis. Not always and not every year, but enough to make the point. If they are not doing it now they will feel the effects without regard to any rise in sea level. It ain’t if, it’s when.

    So on the current disaster list are celestial body impact, AGW, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, bird flu, H1N1 flu, floods, droughts, excess heat and cold. OH, and add in collapsing islands and the resulting mega-tsunami. One could quickly conclude that somewhere between .5 million and several million lives are lost each year on average to nature. Add in the quirks of governance systems and you can easily double that number. Anyone open to the concept of overload? There are so many things to worry about, all put forth by earnest advocates, that few of us worry about any of them. And is anyone cognizant of the fact that a substantial portion of the non-tropic northern latitudes has been hit by a very large outbreak of cold and snow, and that certain notables like Joe Romm at Realclimate are implicating AGW as causing pervasive cold? And actor Danny Glover is linking the Haiti earthquake to AGW? And Al Gore cites the interior temperature of the earth in the millions of degrees in a national TV interview? You may feel the science is on your side, but your acolytes are turning AGW into a sideshow. Until some responsible advocates start slapping down the fringe elements and admitting that there are severe uncertainties in various ares you will continue to lose public support. You know the drill, who are you going to believe, the computer model that says this is the warmest year EVAH, or your lying eyes looking at all that snow you have to shovel?

    1. Umm Terry, you do realize that storm surges will still occur as the sea rises?
      So if we take your number of a transient two meter rise due to an extreme storm surge and add to that 2 metres of baseline sea level rise then you get a transient pulse of sea level to 4 meters above where it is now. This doesn’t sound very pleasant and is something we might want to avoid or at the very least plan for.

      Ps: Jom Romm’s blog is Climateprogress not Realclimate. But if you can provide any evidence either has been attributing the (regional) cold snap to AWG I’d be interesting to know.

    2. “actor Danny Glover is linking the Haiti earthquake to AGW”

      I was thinking today it was strange I hadn’t heard anyone say this, lol but it was only a matter of time! Of course the Asian Tsunami was made worse by sea level rise (yeah right), I guess the Haiti earthquake was made worse by warmer weather weakening the concrete (and here I was thinking that the only reason a 7.0 earthquake could do so much damage was the sorry state of the nation in the first place (due to a myriad of factors), interesting to look back on youtube vids of Copenhagen and see Monckton critising the conference as doing more harm than good to nations such as Haiti just a month before this happened(mentioning Haiti directly))

  27. Terry, it’s not a computer model that determines the warmth of the year past – it’s measurements in many places around the globe. Have a look at James Hansen’s recent draft essay on the subject, which incidentally also gives cognisance to the recent cold period.

    How the concept of overload can be invoked to downgrade the reality of climate change science beats me. It stands on its merits, not on how we choose to feel about it.

  28. Terry, you are, I believe, a PR company flack on a contract to Heartland or some other paper-thin front for a few elderly billionaires who don’t give a rat’s arse for the future, because they won’t be around to experience it.

    As such, your product is doubt, as expressed in any random collection of thoughts that occur as you and your colleagues peruse the work of those who actually think about, and care about, the biogeochemical systems that make our lives possible on this planet.

    I won’t waste time appealing to your sense of self-respect, as, like all whores, that was the first thing you sold. But, at least, try to make some kind of sense…

    1. Rob, unfortunately for your thesis I am not employed by anyone and have not been for quite a number of years. Nor do I engage in activities characterized by “it’s been a business doing pleasure with you.”

      Do I take your response as fully defending the recent pronouncements of Gore, Romm and Glover? I thought you had earlier expressed some disgust with the excesses. Perhaps I was wrong. In any event tossing out ad hominem name calling is certainly not in keeping with the expected behavior of a respected scientist.

      Hope you enjoy the treks.

      Terry

  29. Bryan – one doesn’t need to be a scientist to know what fraud is when you see it (ie: hockey stick). One doesnt need to read lotsa science to know that despite constant claims of ‘tipping point’ temperature to know that since 1998 the global temperature (whatever that is – and there are very few people on earth who could explain that) has gone down – and we now know this has happend at the great consternation to the little group at east Anglia. (Its doesnt actually matter how its measured, the fact is that using the same measuring system, temp have dropped).
    But the really comforting thing for me is that I have the same vote that you do at the next election.
    Its a great disappointment to me that NZ went ahead with a ETS before Copenhagen (where as the ausies’ fortunately for them, didnt) and I am currently think that Ill be voting ACT next election,. At least they are honest about their attitude to global warming. An ETS does nothing for emission REDUCTION – it simply puts a cost on carbon dioxide and we all know that it will have no effect on peoples energy consumption.

  30. Yes, vote ACT to support the neoliberal economic experiment that has worked SO WELL across the rest of the world.

    With luck, NZ could become another success story like Iceland…

  31. “And Im really referring here to those who seem to have gotten the new religion of “believing in global warming”. – Noitall

    In the world of the sane, we call it science.

  32. “one doesn’t need to be a scientist to know what fraud is when you see it (ie: hockey stick).” – Noitall.

    I doubt very much whether you understand at all the issues surrounding the Mann et al study from 1998/1999. If you did, you’d be aware the the National Academy of Science upheld the study findings (with some caveats):

    http://dels.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/Surface_Temps_final.pdf

    “Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. and this newer supporting evidence, the committee fnds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium.”

  33. “One doesnt need to read lotsa science to know that despite constant claims of ‘tipping point’ temperature to know that since 1998 the global temperature (whatever that is – and there are very few people on earth who could explain that) has gone down – Noitall

    For a knowitall you don’t know even the basics of climate. There’s no such thing as a temperature tipping point. Tipping points refer processes or mechanisms in the climate system which act as positive feedbacks and can go beyond a point of no return. Such as the release of methane hydrates in the Arctic.

    And as far as temperature records go, both NASA GISS and the NCDC have 2005 as the warmest year in the instrumental record. And NASA now have 2009 as the 2nd warmest, as Bryan Walker linked to above.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

    Together with the fact that the 1st decade of the 21st century is the warmest decade on record, it shows you to be either very ignorant or simply a liar:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2009/pr20091208b.html?zoneid=79048

  34. “And is anyone cognizant of the fact that a substantial portion of the non-tropic northern latitudes has been hit by a very large outbreak of cold and snow, and that certain notables like Joe Romm at Realclimate are implicating AGW as causing pervasive cold?” – Terry.

    Wrong. Look at the following land surface temperature anomalies:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=42260

    Some areas are much colder, but others are much warmer. Why it’s almost as if the Arctic Oscillation has dipped into an extremely negative phase. That’s weather for you.

    Just imagine how bad it’s going to get in the future when rapid disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet occurs. I’m betting parts of Europe, the US and all of Great Britain are going to get rather cold then, and it won’t just be a weather event.

  35. Terry, your cherry-picking of misunderstood and/or misreported comments from particular individuals does not invalidate the science of AGW, which is not the project of any one person, but the result of centuries of collective effort to understand and predict the behaviour of earth systems.

    If you are bona fide, which I doubt, there are plenty of excellent resources available for you to educate yourself with, such as

    http://hot-topic.co.nz/notes-sources/

  36. About Danny Glover…
    Perhaps you should listen to the entire telephone interview, instead of what Fox News is putting out.
    Fox cut in after the interview was already under way and deliberately missed Danny’s opening statements.
    Fox has taken it out of context and spun it into something that it is not.

    1. You can see watch/listen to Danny Glover’s remarks here on youtube.
      Despite his rather fumbling speech it is very clear what he’s saying is that climate change will leave poor Caribbean islands vulnerable to climate induced disasters in the future unless AWG is stopped.

  37. Actually, there is evidence that AGW may increase the incidence of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Here is a slightly abridged New Scientist article (sorry, no link as subscription required):

    Climate change may trigger earthquakes and volcanoes
    23 September 2009 by Richard Fisher

    FAR from being the benign figure of mythology, Mother Earth is short-tempered and volatile. So sensitive in fact, that even slight changes in weather and climate can rip the planet’s crust apart, unleashing the furious might of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and landslides.

    That’s the conclusion of the researchers who got together last week in London at the conference on Climate Forcing of Geological and Geomorphological Hazards. It suggests climate change could tip the planet’s delicate balance and unleash a host of geological disasters.

    Evidence of a link between climate and the rumblings of the crust has been around for years, but only now is it becoming clear just how sensitive rock can be to the air, ice and water above. “You don’t need huge changes to trigger responses from the crust,” says Bill McGuire of University College London (UCL), who organised the meeting. “The changes can be tiny.”

    Among the various influences on the Earth’s crust, from changes in weather to fluctuations in ice cover, the oceans are emerging as a particularly fine controller. Simon Day of the University of Oxford, McGuire and Serge Guillas, also at UCL, have shown how subtle changes in sea level may affect the seismicity of the East Pacific Rise, one of the fastest-spreading plate boundaries.

    The researchers focused on the Easter microplate Рthe tectonic plate that lies beneath the ocean off the coast of Easter Island Рbecause it is relatively isolated from other faults. This makes it easier to distinguish changes in the plate caused by climate systems from those triggered by regional rumbles. Since 1973, the arrival of El Ni̱o every few years has correlated with a greater frequency of underwater quakes between magnitude 4 and 6.

    The team is confident that the two are linked. El Niño raises the local sea level by a few tens of centimetres, and they believe the extra water weight may increase the pressure of fluids in the pores of the rock beneath the seabed. This might be enough to counteract the frictional force that holds the slabs of rock in place, making it easier for faults to slip. “The changes in sea level are tiny,” says Day. “A small additional perturbation can have a substantial effect.”

    Small ocean changes can also influence volcanic eruptions, says David Pyle of the University of Oxford. His study of eruptions over the past 300 years with Ben Mason of the University of Cambridge and colleagues reveals that volcanism varies with the seasons. The team found that there are around 20 per cent more eruptions worldwide during the northern hemisphere’s winter than the summer (Journal of Geophysical Research, DOI: 10.1029/2002JB002293). The reason may be that global sea level drops slightly during the northern hemisphere’s winter. Because there is more land in the northern hemisphere, more water is locked up as ice and snow on land than during the southern hemisphere’s winter.

    The vast majority of the world’s most active volcanoes are within a few tens of kilometres of the coast (see map). This suggests the seasonal removal of some of the ocean’s weight at continental margins as sea level drops could be triggering eruptions around the world, says Pyle.

    The suggestion that some volcanoes erupt when sea levels drop does not necessarily mean that sea levels rising under climate change will suppress volcanism. In Alaska, Mount Pavlof erupts more often in the winter months, and previous research by Steve McNutt of the Alaska Volcano Observatory puts this down to a local sea level rise of 30 centimetres every winter due to low air pressure and high storm winds. Pavlof’s location means that the extra weight of the adjacent sea could be squeezing magma towards the surface.

    In other regions, additional ocean weight at continental margins as sea levels rise could bend the crust, reducing compressional conditions, says McGuire. Magma may then find it easier to reach the surface at adjacent volcanoes.

    All these examples may seem contradictory, but the crucial point is that any change in sea level may alter regional stresses at continental margins enough to trigger eruptions in a volcano already primed to erupt, he says.

    Small changes in rainfall can also trigger volcanic eruptions. In 2001, a major eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat was set in motion by particularly heavy rainfall. This destabilised the volcano’s dome enough for it to collapse and unleash magma within. Now it seems even typical tropical rain showers could trigger an eruption. And climate models suggest that many regions, including parts of the tropics, are likely to get wetter with climate change.

    Adrian Matthews of the University of East Anglia, UK, and colleagues measured the minute-by-minute response of Montserrat’s volcano after more than 200 bouts of precipitation over three years. The team found that these events, which Matthews says were typical of tropical weather, were followed by two days of increased volcanic activity.

    A rainy day increased the likelihood of dome collapse from 1.5 per cent to 16 per cent. “It wouldn’t have to be spectacularly heavy rainfall,” says Matthews. “You don’t have to have a hurricane.” (Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2009.05.010)

    Perhaps the greatest geological hazards during climate change will be the result of melting ice sheets. Apart from the risk that loose sediments exposed by melted ice could slip into the sea as tsunami-generating landslides, the removal of heavy ice could also trigger volcanic eruptions. “Even thinning of a few tens of metres could make a difference,” says Andrew Russell of the University of Newcastle in the UK.

    For example, Iceland’s Vatnajökull ice cap sits over a plate boundary and several volcanoes. That ice is likely to disappear within the next two centuries. “If that happens you’ll get rid of an awful lot of weight that will allow an increase in volcanic activity,” says Russell. In the wake of the last ice age, volcanism was up to 30 times greater in northern Iceland compared with today (Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, DOI: 10.1002/esp.1811).

    Icy eruptions could reverberate round the world. In 1783, the Icelandic volcano Laki sent a sulphurous smog over Europe, plunging it into an extreme winter that killed thousands.

    For now, it is unclear just how much climate change will affect the frequency and intensity of quakes and eruptions, says McGuire, because Earth’s sensitivity to climate is only now emerging. There is not yet enough data to build predictive climate models linking the two systems. But it’s crucial that we consider just how easily our actions could provoke the planet, he argues. “It’s serious science, not scaremongering.”

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