Wall Street Journal, Congress, Break Physics with New Theories of Sea Level Rise

May 17, 2018


File this alongside “There is no gravity, the Earth sucks.”

One more reason to support Dark Snow Project.

Fred Singer in Wall Street Journal:

Of all known and imagined consequences of climate change, many people fear sea-level rise most. But efforts to determine what causes seas to rise are marred by poor data and disagreements about methodology. The noted oceanographer Walter Munk referred to sea-level rise as an “enigma”; it has also been called a riddle and a puzzle.

It is generally thought that sea-level rise accelerates mainly by thermal expansion of sea water, the so-called steric component. But by studying a very short time interval, it is possible to sidestep most of the complications, like “isostatic adjustment” of the shoreline (as continents rise after the overlying ice has melted) and “subsidence” of the shoreline (as ground water and minerals are extracted).


I chose to assess the sea-level trend from 1915-45, when a genuine, independently confirmed warming of approximately 0.5 degree Celsius occurred. I note particularly that sea-level rise is not affected by the warming; it continues at the same rate, 1.8 millimeters a year, according to a 1990 review by Andrew S. Trupin and John Wahr. I therefore conclude—contrary to the general wisdom—that the temperature of sea water has no direct effect on sea-level rise. That means neither does the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide.

This conclusion is worth highlighting: It shows that sea-level rise does not depend on the use of fossil fuels. The evidence should allay fear that the release of additional CO2 will increase sea-level rise.

In my talks, I often hold up a thermometer to remind the audience of what they learned in 5th grade about fluids expanding when they are warmed.
An example of settled science, don’t you think?


The cause of the trend is a puzzle. Physics demands that water expand as its temperature increases. But to keep the rate of rise constant, as observed, expansion of sea water evidently must be offset by something else. What could that be? I conclude that it must be ice accumulation, through evaporation of ocean water, and subsequent precipitation turning into ice. Evidence suggests that accumulation of ice on the Antarctic continent has been offsetting the steric effect for at least several centuries.

It is difficult to explain why evaporation of seawater produces approximately 100% cancellation of expansion. My method of analysis considers two related physical phenomena: thermal expansion of water and evaporation of water molecules. But if evaporation offsets thermal expansion, the net effect is of course close to zero. What then is the real cause of sea-level rise of 1 to 2 millimeters a year?


Originally published by E&E News

The Earth is not warming. The White Cliffs of Dover are tumbling into the sea and causing sea levels to rise. Global warming is helping grow the Antarctic ice sheet.

Those are some of the skeptical assertions echoed by Republicans on the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee yesterday. The lawmakers at times embraced research that questions mainstream climate science during a hearing on how technology can be used to address global warming.

A leading climate scientist testifying before the panel spent much of the two hours correcting misstatements.

The purpose of the hearing was to focus on how technology could be deployed for climate change adaptation. But the hearing frequently turned to the basics of climate science. Many of the questions by Republicans and Democrats alike were directed to Philip Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts and former senior adviser to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said he was bothered that established climate science has not been questioned more by the committee, which has accused federal climate scientists of fraudulently manipulating climate data and subpoenaed their records.

“I’m a little bit disturbed by, No. 1, over and over again, I hear, ‘Don’t ever talk about whether mankind is the main cause of the temperature changing and the climate changing,'” he said. “That’s a little disturbing to hear constantly beaten into our heads in a Science Committee meeting, when basically we should all be open to different points of view.”

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the committee, entered into the record an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal yesterday that claimed sea levels are not rising because of climate change, a view that rejects thousands of scientific studies. The piece was written by Fred Singer, who is affiliated with the Heartland Institute in Chicago, Illinois, which promotes the rejection of mainstream climate science.

“To solve climate change challenges, we first need to acknowledge the uncertainties that exist,” Smith said in his opening remarks. “Then we can have confidence that innovations and technology will enable us to mitigate any adverse consequences of climate change.”

At one point, Smith showed a slide of two charts that he said demonstrated how the rate of sea-level rise does not equal the sharp spike in the consumption of fossil fuels. When Smith pointed out that rates of sea-level rise have only increased slightly compared with the rate of fossil fuel use, Duffy pointed out that his chart was from a single tide gauge station, near San Francisco, and that sea levels rise at different rates around the world. Smith did not show rising atmospheric CO2levels or temperatures, both of which have climbed steadily in recent decades as emissions have increased.

“The rate of global sea-level rise has accelerated and is now four times faster than it was 100 years ago,” Duffy told Smith in response to the charts.

“Is this chart inaccurate, then?” Smith asked.

“It’s accurate, but it doesn’t represent what’s happening globally; it represents what’s happening in San Francisco,” Duffy said.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) questioned Duffy on the factors that contribute to sea-level rise, pointing out that land subsidence plays a role, as well as human activity.

Brooks then said that erosion plays a significant role in sea-level rise, which is not an idea embraced by mainstream climate researchers. He said the California coastline and the White Cliffs of Dover tumble into the sea every year, and that contributes to sea-level rise. He also said that silt washing into the ocean from the world’s major rivers, including the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Nile, is contributing to sea-level rise.

“Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up,” Brooks said.

Duffy responded: “I’m pretty sure that on human time scales, those are minuscule effects.”

Brooks added that Antarctic ice is growing. That was true a few years ago, and scientists say it does not disprove the theory of global warming because different factors affect the Arctic and Antarctic rates of melting.

“We have satellite records clearly documenting a shrinkage of the Antarctic ice sheet and an acceleration of that shrinkage,” Duffy said.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but the data I have seen suggests — ” Brooks said.

Duffy answered: “The National Snow and Ice Data Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.”

“Well, I’ve got a NASA base in my district, and apparently, they’re telling you one thing and me a different thing,” Brooks said. “But there are plenty of studies that have come that show with respect to Antarctica that the total ice sheet, particularly that above land, is increasing, not decreasing. Now, you could make a different argument if you want to talk about Greenland or the Arctic.”

Earlier this year, NASA researchers determined that Antarctica’s ice loss has accelerated in the last decade. More broadly, sea ice extent at both poles set a record low last year. Scientists are racing to better understand the changes occurring in Antarctica because much of its ice is land-based, meaning it could drive sea-level rise around the world as it melts.

Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) said scientists said in the 1970s that the Earth was cooling, a popular talking point of climate skeptics and the subject of a fake Time magazine cover that has become a meme. Duffy corrected him and said that was essentially an outlier position at the time and that scientists long ago determined that humans were warming the planet.

Posey also asked how carbon dioxide could be captured in permafrost in the periods before humans existed. Duffy told him that it was from non-decayed organic matter. Human activity is now causing the Arctic to warm and thaw the ground, releasing the carbon into the atmosphere, Duffy said.

Posey then asked about theories related to warming being beneficial for habitats and to people.

“What do you say to people who theorize that the Earth as it continues to warm is returning to its normal temperature?” Posey asked.

“Look, if you want to characterize a temperature above today’s temperature as normal, you’re free to do that, but that doesn’t mean that’s a planet we want to live on,” Duffy said.

“I don’t want to get philosophical; I’m trying to stay on science here,” Posey said.

“I’m not getting philosophical; I’m getting extremely practical,” Duffy said. “I’m being extremely practical — if we let the planet warm 2 or 3 degrees, we will have tens of meters of sea-level rise, and the community where I live will essentially cease to exist.”


25 Responses to “Wall Street Journal, Congress, Break Physics with New Theories of Sea Level Rise”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Phew! Another DYI “study” published by the peers of the WSJ.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Fred Singer is is Russell Cook’s “uncle”, remember. If you’ve ever wondered where Russell the NON-science guy gets his BS from. look no further than Uncle Fred. Singer is an embarrassment to the idea of “scientist”.

  3. indy222 Says:

    I teach my students that the easiest tell to know to put your hand firmly on wallet in the front pocket, is the lack of any links to reputable studies (vs. agenda-oriented blogs). Singer’s post is an embarrassment to someone who actually used to be not a stupid person, by early work. Is he so feeble-minded and morally bankrupt that he feels no pain at the thought that this post is now recorded for the ages and another stake in the heart in his reputation? Do you really want to exit the planet with your last thoughts being what a complete sell-out you’ve been? REALLY?

  4. ubrew12 Says:

    “The Sea is rising, but not because of Climate Change” It’s amazing how many things Climate Change is NOT causing, thanks to our Koch-detectives. I guess sea rise is just an unhappy coincidence whose actual cause is in the vast black hole of scientific unknowing. I’m amazed at how many things Science doesn’t know. If it weren’t for the Heartland Institute, we wouldn’t know anything at all.

    “from 1915-45… sea-level rise is not affected by the warming” Its very impolite of the ocean to hide its responses for 30 years. That’s 3 whole decades! Next, the ocean will be telling us that something sunk in the N Atlantic won’t resurface for a thousand years. Our new EPA demands full transparency! Give up your secrets, ocean!

  5. grindupbaker Says:

    From the comment above “warming of approximately 0.5 degree Celsius occurred…I note particularly that sea-level rise is not affected by the warming” Fred Singer doesn’t understand that the ocean extends down a bit deeper than its surface film. I come across that lack of understanding quite often from the ignorant with minimal basic science education over the last 6 years. An increase of 0.5 degrees in the GMST (surface/air) over just 30 years does not represent any particular ocean warming and expansion per se. It’s the TOA imbalance that warms the ocean, not GMST rise. In fact, a warmer ocean surface (which means higher GMST) reduces the rate of ocean warming. That’s why Earth’s ecosphere (the oceans) lost 50 zettajoules ~January 2015 – ~September 2016 during that GMST spike you all ooh & aah about and gained 51 zettajoules in the dull time since that GMST spike ended. You’ll find that ocean expansion (SLR) slowed during that El Nino GMST spike. Fred Singer has it pretty much arse backwards.

  6. redskylite Says:

    Quite honestly Fred Singer is totally obscene, we saw that in his previous life defending tobacco and second hand smoke risks. Deep shame on WSJ for publishing the 94 year old shill.

  7. […] So much stupidity on display at the Wall Street Journal, and in congress, on sea level rise. […]

  8. J4Zonian Says:

    The Great High Reverends Rohrabacher, Smith, and Singer obviously feel oppressed by reality. The cure for that of course, is immersion therapy, gradually exposing them to more and more reality until they’ve overcome their fear.

    Any volunteers to take charge of the treatment?

  9. Sir Charles Says:

    Sea level is not rising because of climate change. Sea level is rising because the Japanese throw all the whales back into the sea…

  10. […] If you have not seen, and you want to see a media outlet deeply embarrass itself – go here. […]

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