Alarmists Gone Wild: “Alarmist CO2 Headlines Create Confusion”… Particularly When Accompanied by Sea Level Alarmism.

Real Clear Science and Real Clear Energy are great aggregators of science and energy articles.  But, invariably, there is always at least one article that merits lampooning, if not outright ridicule… And today was no exception.

Tuesday, May 16

“Alarmist CO2 Headlines Create Confusion”… Yes they do.  Earth has been setting CO2 records since 1809, but it never became headline news before we crossed 387 ppm.

Why you should take hyperventilating headlines about CO2 with a grain of salt — but still be quite concerned

By Tom Yulsman | May 15, 2017

esrl_global_monitoring_division_-_global_greenhouse_gas_reference_network

This graph shows carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The last four complete years of the record plus the current year are shown. The dashed red line red line shows monthly mean values, and reveals a natural, up-and-down season cycle. The black line shows the trend after correcting for the average seasonal cycle. (Source: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory)

Back in late April, there was a spate of hyperventilating headlines and news reports about the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

This one in particular, from Think Progress, should have made its author so light-headed that she passed out:

The Earth just reached a CO2 level not seen in 3 million years

Levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide hit record concentrations.

That story and others were prompted by measurements at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory showing that the concentration of heat-trapping CO2 in the atmosphere had exceeded 410 parts per million.

Some of you might be thinking this: Since rising levels of greenhouse gases are causing global warming, and myriad climate changes like melting ice sheets and glaciers, then this really was big news story.

And the highest CO2 level in 3 million years? WOW! That certainly justifies the hyperventilating hed, right?

I don’t think so. That’s because the headline is inaccurate, and the story hypes the crossing of a purely artificial CO2 threshold.

[…]

Discover Magazine

While Mr. Yulsman is spot-on in his characterization of alarmist CO2 headlines (“hed” is journalistic shorthand), he then veers right off into alarmist prattle about sea level:

My point is not that we shouldn’t be concerned about continuing to use the atmosphere as a dumping ground for the byproducts of fossil fuel burning. Quite the opposite. We should be moving more aggressively to do something about it. If you have any doubts, check out the trend in sea level since 1880:

sea-level-download1-2016

Cumulative changes in sea level for the world’s oceans since 1880, based on a combination of long-term tide gauge measurements and recent satellite measurements. (Source: EPA.)

Moreover, sea level rise isn’t something that only future generations will have to deal with. It’s already causing significant challenges. If you doubt that, check out what’s happening in Miami right now.

So yes, we absolutely should be concerned about the rising tide of CO2 in the atmosphere, and doing something over the long run to transition away from fossil fuels.

[…]

But slapping an inaccurate, hyperventilating headline on a non-story to rile up readers is no way to do it.

Discover Magazine

I love irony.  If “slapping an inaccurate, hyperventilating headline on a non-story to rile up readers is no way to do it,” what’s the point in “slapping an inaccurate, hyperventilating” comment about sea level rise?  Mr. Yulsman linked to this article about “what’s happening in Miami right now”…

Miami Beach spends millions to hold back the sea

The city is installing powerful storm water pumps and raising some public streets by an average of two feet.

Sea levels in South Florida could rise up to two feet over the next four decades. That puts Miami Beach – an island three miles off the Florida coast – at risk.

The city is already experiencing sunny day flooding – days when there’s no rain, but high tides push water up through storm drains and flood city streets.

[…]

Yale Climate Connections

“Sea levels in South Florida could rise up to two feet over the next four decades”… No they can’t and this is not happening right now.

For sea level to rise “two feet over the next four decades,” it would have to accelerate to the pace of the Holocene Transgression:

sl4_zps22bee1aa

Projected sea level rise through 2100 AD. Two feet of sea level rise over the next four decades would require a pace even faster than that required for 1 meter (~3 feet) of sea level rise by the end of this century. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/21/oh-say-can-you-see-modern-sea-level-rise-from-a-geological-perspective/

It would take an average rate of sea level rise nearly twice that of the Holocene Transgression for sea level to rise more than 1.5 meters (~5 feet) over the remainder of this century.

Sea level isn’t behaving any differently than it has throughout the Holocene.

sl6_zps417bba83 Sea level was 1-2 meters higher than it currently is during the Holocene Highstand. All of the sea level rise since 1700 is insignificant relative to the natural variability of Holocene sea levels. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/21/oh-say-can-you-see-modern-sea-level-rise-from-a-geological-perspective/

Sea level rise in the Miami area is not accelerating and it is rising at a rate of about 1 foot per century.

8723170

The mean sea level trend is 2.39 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.43 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1931 to 1981 which is equivalent to a change of 0.78 feet in 100 years. https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8723170

8724580

The mean sea level trend is 2.40 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.15 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1913 to 2016 which is equivalent to a change of 0.79 feet in 100 years. https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8724580

8723970

The mean sea level trend is 3.63 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.48 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from 1971 to 2016 which is equivalent to a change of 1.19 feet in 100 years. https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8723970

The satellite data indicate virtually no statistically significant sea level rise in the Miami area:

I intentionally retained the “seasonal terms and mean” and did not smooth the data because the seasonal variability is real and at least 10 times the magnitude of any secular trends in sea level.

To the extent that there is a trend (R² = 0.0945), the rate of sea level rise in the Miami area is about 3 mm/yr.  This would lead to about 5.5 inches of sea level rise over the next four decades.

MiamiSSH

Miami FL Area Sea Surface Height (cm). Data from CU Sea Level Research Group University of Colorado. http://sealevel.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/table.cgi?q=content%2Finteractive-sea-level-time-series-wizard&dlat=26&dlon=280&fit=n&smooth=n&days=60

A review of USGS topographic maps reveals very little in the way of inundation by rising seas:

miami1

Miami Beach, Florida topographic maps from 1950 and 1994.(USGS).

miami2

Miami Beach topographic maps for 1950 and 1994. Note that the 5′ elevation contour has not shifted (USGS).

miami3

Miami Beach, Florida topographic maps for 1994 and 2012. The 2012 map has no 5′ contour because it has a 10′ contour interval. However, it is abundantly obvious that Florida is not being inundated.

Miami Xsect

Topographic profile A-A’. The NOAA sea level trend has been plotted at.the same vertical scale.

Conclusion

Kudos to Mr. Yulsman for raising the alarm about alarmist CO2 headlines and ironically including alarmist prattle about sea level rise in his article.  I’ve been looking for a reason to break out the Miami Beach topo maps and profile and use them in a WUWT post.

 

References

Bard, E., B. Hamelin, M. Arnold, L. Montaggioni, G. Cabioch, G. Faure & F. Rougerie. Deglacial sea-level record from Tahiti corals and the timing of global meltwater discharge.Nature 382, 241 – 244 (18 July 1996); doi:10.1038/382241a0

Blum, M.D., A.E. Carter,T. Zayac, and R. Goble. Middle Holocene Sea-Level and Evolution of The Gulf of Mexico Coast (USA). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 36, 2002.

Jameson, J., C. Strohmenger. Late Pleistocene to Holocene Sea-Level History of Qatar: Implications for Eustasy and Tectonics. AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90142 © 2012 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, April 22-25, 2012, Long Beach, California.

Jevrejeva, S., J. C. Moore, A. Grinsted, and P. L. Woodworth (2008).  Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago? Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L08715, doi:10.1029/2008GL033611.:

Nerem, R.S., D.P. Chambers, C. Choe & G.T. Mitchum. Estimating Mean Sea Level Change from the TOPEX and Jason Altimeter Missions. Marine Geodesy. Volume 33, Issue S1, 2010, pages 435- 446 Available online: 09 Aug 2010 DOI: 10.1080/01490419.2010.491031.

Advertisements

One Response to “Alarmists Gone Wild: “Alarmist CO2 Headlines Create Confusion”… Particularly When Accompanied by Sea Level Alarmism.”

  1. daveburton Says:

    Hi David,

    Would you mind dropping me an email, please?
    My email address is here: http://www.sealevel.info/contact.html

    Warmest regards,
    another Dave

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: