Doomed Planet

The tide ebbs on another climate myth

Senator Bob Carr recently claimed that global warming and rising sea levels would make Kiribati uninhabitable within 20 to 30 years, saying: “What I’m looking at here is the living reality of climate change. This is a village; the tide rises and floods it. This sends a message of what might happen to this nation of 100,000 people over six islands should the temperature continue to warm and the sea levels continue to rise.”

Warming to his topic, he added: “Climate change is a security issue … Rising levels of salt water have inundated their fresh water and there’s no drinking water on the islands.”

Carr’s alarmist statements are not backed by available peer-reviewed literature. On the contrary, there is ample evidence to show that concerns over Kiribati and other island nations are without any scientific foundation.

Many of the 33 atolls which make up Kiribati (formerly known as the Gilbert Islands) are low-lying. Its economy is weak with the ending of phosphate mining on Banaba, and income is essentially from fishing licensing, overseas workers sending home their earnings, and foreign aid.

In 2010, Arthur P. Webb and Paul S. Kench, using historical aerial photographs and satellite images, published results which showed that 23 out of 27 Pacific Islands had either remained intact or had grown in area. Some had grown dramatically. The researchers subsequently told the BBC:

“That rather gloomy prognosis for these nations is incorrect … It has been thought that as the sea level goes up, islands will sit there and drown. But they won’t. The sea level will go up and the island will start responding."

In fact, as Webb and Kench pointed out, the islands of Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia are among those which have grown, assisted by accumulated coral debris and sediment. As Auckland University’s Kench added: "We have now got the evidence to suggest that the physical foundation of these countries will still be there in 100 years, so they perhaps do not need to flee their country."

Alarmist messages about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) and dangerous sea level rise essentially stem from the thoroughly discredited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) statements and are promoted vigorously by a number of vested interests.

Alarmist cries warn that the planet is warming dangerously, sea level is rising quickly and Pacific Islanders are losing their homes. Such cries have been used as emotional and unsubstantiated arguments for a carbon (dioxide) tax and compensation for islanders to be paid by Western nations. The purported plight of Kiribati and Tuvalu are now seen as useful vehicles to promote the Australian Government’s agenda.

Professor Nils-Axel Mörner, formerly chairman of the INQUA International Commission on Sea Level Change, was an IPCC contributing scientist. Mörner, arguably the world’s foremost expert on sea-level measurement, has called into question the IPCC’s prognosis on future sea-level rise and how this contradicts what recognised experts in the area have documented.

Mörner reported to the UK House of Lords that genuine experts on sea level refuted IPCC claims of rapidly rising levels and that island nations could be inundated. Mörner said:

“There is a total absence of any recent ‘acceleration in sea level rise’ as often claimed by IPCC and related groups … So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it.”

The Maldives group of low-lying atolls in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean are frequently mentioned by global warming/sea-level alarmists as being areas under threat. Island politicians, who are foreever drawing attention to their homeland’s entirely imaginary fate, have used media-attracting stunts such as holding underwater cabinet meetings prior to the UN climate conference in Copenhagen.

Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed informed the Australian government that his country is facing disaster from rising sea levels caused by global warming. So what does Professor Mörner think about the supposed inundation of the Maldives?

October 20, 2009
To: President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives
From: Nils-Axel Mörner, Stockholm, Sweden 

Mr. President,
You have recently held an undersea Cabinet meeting to raise awareness of the idea that global sea level is rising and hence threatens to drown the Maldives. This proposition is not founded in observational facts and true scientific judgements.

Therefore, I am most surprised at your action and must protest its intended message.

In 2001, our research group found overwhelming evidence that sea level was by no means in a rising mode in the Maldives, but had remained quite stable for the last 30 years ..”


“ ..I have written to you twice without reply. Your people ought not to have to suffer a constant claim that there is no future for them on their own islands. This terrible message is deeply inappropriate, since it is founded not upon reality but upon an imported concept, which lacks scientific justification and is thus untenable. There is simply no rational basis for it.”

Professor Cliff Ollier, School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia says:

“Graphs of sea level for twelve locations in the southwest Pacific show stable sea level for about ten years over the region. The data are compared with results from elsewhere, all of which suggest that any rise of global sea level is negligible.”

If sea level is rising significantly it would have been noted at various sites around the Pacific and recorded by the Australian South Pacific Sea Level & Climate Monitoring Project located near Takuu Island. The SEAFRAME  (Sea Level Fine Resolution Acoustic Measuring Equipment) records all parameters likely to influence sea level.

Between 1992 and 2009, SEAFRAME showed some variation, but no overall sea level rise, at its reference points. Noted was the relative sea level rise at Takuu Island and the Carteret Islands. Both groups are on the submarine Ontong Java Plateau, where relative sea-level rise can be attributed to tectonic subsidence.

Unvalidated computer model predictions of future global warming and sea level rise provide no scientific basis for evacuation from low-lying Pacific islands. It appears that the IPCC and CSIRO are committed to sea level rise alarmism. Both organizations, presumably because of political and financial interests, find it difficult to concede that their predictions are not supported by the available science.

Tavau Teii, the Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu argued in a speech he made to the UN meeting on climate change in New York that:

“Tuvalu is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change so we are seeking new funding arrangements to protect us from the impacts of climate change … Rather than relying on aid money we believe that the major greenhouse polluters should pay for the impacts they are causing.”

Anyone living on an over-populated island with limited income, sewage and other waste disposal problems, along with fresh water depletion, would certainly want to improve their lot. Blaming Australia for producing trivial amounts of non-polluting, life-giving carbon dioxide, leading to imaginary catastrophic global warming and dangerous sea-level rise might well be a scheme with some merit.  

No global warming and related sea-level alarm would mean no compensation claims from island nations.

Bob Carr also is smart enough to know that no global warming or sea-level alarm would mean that the Gillard government has no justification for its pointless carbon (dioxide) tax.

Dr John Happs has an academic background in the geosciences. He has been a science educator at several universities in Australia and overseas

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