Head for Kansas! The Seas Are Rising- Some Inconvenient Truths

With a Biden presidency, expect to hear lectures about climate change- the phenomena formerly known as global warming.  Icons of the cult like Al Gore and Greta Thunberg, along with a nanny Biden administration will tell us of the calamity that will ensue should we do nothing.

In geological terms, a relatively short time ago- 20,000 years- the world was in a deep freeze.  Most of the world’s water was tied up in ice.  Greenland’s ice was 30% thicker than today.  Sea levels were 400 feet below what they are today also.  It is what created the bridge between Asia and North America that allowed people to migrate here.  Then about 15,000 years ago, global warming started and the sea levels rose as the ice gradually melted.  In North America alone, sea levels rose up to 50 feet creating the North Sea.

Since 1880 when measurements were first devised, sea levels have risen 6.5 inches- nowhere near 50-400 FEET, with most of it coming after 1950.  Some claim this is due to manmade greenhouse gases exasperating the phenomena, but could it be that measurement technology simply got better after 1950?  Regardless, 6.5 inches is hardly something to shout “calamity” from the rooftops.  Further, the measured sea rises, although occurring over a large area, are not evenly distributed.  The 6.5 inches cited is the average.

So what do we know about the rising seas?  We know that about two-thirds is attributable to melting glaciers and ice.  Most of it is caused by melting of the Antarctic ice shelf where it is predicted that by 2100 it could increase sea levels another six feet on average.  The important factor to consider here is that this seems to be a natural cycle of the earth.

The other third is attributable to warmer oceans.  As water temperatures increase, the ocean expands and sea levels rise.  According to the experts, today’s average ocean temperature is 1.2 degrees warmer than in 1950.  Again, the effects are not seen evenly across the globe.  For example, the sea level rise in San Francisco Bay over that time period is 6 inches, but nowhere near six inches in many other areas.

Next comes a major question about sea level rises.  Is the anticipated inundation attributable to the sea levels rising, or the land sinking?  In fact, human development is responsible for 80% of land subsidence in the United States.  The pumping of subsurface groundwater for drinking and agriculture has caused the land to subside in wide areas.  Further, densely populated areas- mainly along the coasts- have massive buildings, roads, and infrastructure that compresses the underlying ground and surrounding land surfaces.  As a result, seawater moves inland.

One such case is Norfolk, Virginia.  There, 54% of the “rise” is sea level is NOT a rising ocean, but sinking land.  Another area where this phenomena is most noted is Miami-Dade county in southern Florida.  The case on the eastern coast of the United States is compounded by the Gulf Stream- a channel of warm water that originates in the warm seas around the Equator and travels north along the coast.  The Gulf Stream is a conveyor belt that transports warm water directly into the colder Northern Atlantic contributing to glacial melt.

Short term slowdowns of the Stream can have serious effects.  In Florida alone, it can add 1-3 feet of higher tides over a day or week.  Throw in heavier-than-normal rainfall and tidal flooding can make the problem worse.

Of course, warmer oceans spawn hurricanes.  Most will point to Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey as proof-positive that we are heading towards world calamity.  But, New Orleans is a city that was below sea level long before the Industrial Revolution and the production of greenhouse gases by mankind.  The devastation caused was by failure of the system of levees and pumps designed to avoid such a disaster.  As for Harvey, it barreled ashore a low-lying area- again, low-lying long before the Industrial Revolution.  The fact it stalled in the area dumping large amounts of rain only made the problem worse.  Compounding the problem in that area of Texas, waterlands that would have absorbed the moisture were sacrificed for development.

Finally, there are natural occurrences like El Nino and La Nina that have been occurring with some regularity over long periods of geologic time- once again, long before the Industrial Revolution.  There can be temporary changes to sea levels directly attributable to both over several months.

This writer has always likened the climate change hysteria to that which occurs every summer regarding shark attacks.  Namely, are the sharks getting more aggressive, or are there just more humans swimming in the water?  Likewise, are hurricanes getting more destructive, or are they destructive because more people are living in the natural paths of hurricanes?

There are human “causes” involved but they have nothing to do with greenhouse gases.  It has to do where people live and what they do where they live regarding development.  Unless Thunberg, Gore, Biden and “climate czar” John Kerry have some master plan to (1) stop natural geologic and meteorological processes that have occurred over the eons and (2) stop people from living along the coasts and developing naturally low-lying areas, then they are the proverbial salmon swimming upstream.  Unlike the salmon, there will be no reward at the end of the journey.