Floating Islands

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Much has been written of late regarding the impending projected demise of the world’s coral atoll islands due to CO2-caused sea level rise. Micronesia is suing the Czech Government over CO2 emissions that they claim are damaging their coral atolls via sea level rise. Tuvalu and the Maldives are also repeating their claims of damage from CO2. If the sea level rises much, they say they will simply be swept away.

Recently, here in the Solomon Islands, the sea level rise has been blamed for salt water intrusion into the subsurface “lens” of fresh water that forms under atolls. Beneath the surface of most atolls, there is a lens shaped body of fresh water. The claim is that the rising sea levels are contaminating the fresh-water lens with seawater. On other atolls, increased sea levels are claimed to be washing away parts of the atoll.

In this paper, I will discuss the three inter-related claims that people are making as illustrated above. The claims are:

1. Increasing CO2 causes increased sea level rise.

2. Sea level rise causes salt water to intrude into the freshwater lens

3. Sea level rise gravely endangers low-lying coral atolls like Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Maldives. A mere 1 metre rise would see them mostly washed away.

I will look at the real causes of the very real problems faced by atoll dwellers. Finally, I will list some practical measures to ameliorate those problems.

And before you ask, how do I know this atoll stuff? For three years I lived on and worked on and had wells dug on and watched the moon rise over and dived in the lagoon and on the reef wall of a coral atoll in the South Pacific … hey, somebody has to … that plus a lot of study and research.

Claim 1. Does increased CO2 cause increased sea level rise?

Short answer, data to date says no. There has been no acceleration the rate of sea level rise. Sea level has been rising for centuries. But the rate of the rise has not changed a whole lot. Both tidal stations and satellites show no increase in the historic rate of sea level rise, in either the short or long term. Fig. 1 shows the most recent satellite data.

Figure 1. Change of sea level over time. Radar data from the TOPEX satellite. The light blue line is sea level with monthly anomalies removed. The interval between data points is usually ten days. The gray line is the 1993-2004 linear trend projected to the end of the timeline. Gaussian average using a 71-point filter. Photo taken at Taunovo Bay Resort, Fiji.

Up until about the end of 2004, there was little change in the rate of sea level rise. Since then the rise has slowed down. The average (dark blue line) does not stray far from the trend (black line) up until 1994. Since then, it is well below the projected trend (gray line). We were supposed to be seeing some kind of big acceleration in the sea level rise caused by increased CO2. Instead, we are seeing a decrease in the rate of sea level rise. So the first claim, that increasing CO2 will cause increased rates of sea level rise, is not supported by the evidence.

Note that I am not saying anything about the future. The rate of sea level rise might go up again. What we can say, however, is that there is no hint of acceleration in the record, only deceleration. Claim 1 is false to date.

Claim 2. Can a sea level rise cause salt water to intrude into the freshwater lens?

Short answer, no. To understand what is really happening with the freshwater lens, we’ll start with the geology. Here is a cross-section of a typical atoll that I drew up.

Figure 2. Typical cross section through a coral atoll. The living coral is in the ring between the dotted green line and the beach. The atoll used for the photo in this example is Tepoto Atoll, French Polynesia.

Note that the sea water penetrates throughout the porous coral rubble base. Because fresh water is lighter than salt water, the freshwater lens is floating on this subsurface part of the ocean. The weight of the fresh water pushes down the surface of the sea water underneath it, forming the bottom of the “lens” shape. The lens is wider where the atoll is wider. The amount of fresh water in the lens is a balance between what is added and what is withdrawn or lost. The lens is only replenished by rain.

The important thing here is that the freshwater lens is floating on the sea surface. It’s not like a well on land, with an underground freshwater source with a water-tight layer below it. There is no underground freshwater source on an atoll. It is just a bubble of water, a rain-filled lens is floating on a sea water table in a porous coral rubble and sand substructure. If there is no rain, the fresh water will eventually slowly mix with the salt water and dissipate. When there is rain, you get a floating lens of fresh water, which goes up and down with the underlying sea water.

So the second claim, that a sea level rise can cause the sea water to intrude into the fresh water lens, is not true either. The fresh water lens floats on the sea water below. A rise in the sea level merely moves the lens upwards. It does not cause salt water to intrude into the lens.

3. Would a sea level rise gravely endanger low-lying coral atolls?

Regarding atolls and sea level rise, the most important fact was discovered by none other than Charles Darwin. He realized that coral atolls essentially “float” on the surface of the sea. When the sea rises, the atoll rises with it. They are not solid, like a rock island. They are a pile of sand and rubble. There is always material added and material being lost. Atolls exist in a delicate balance between new sand and coral rubble being added from the reef, and atoll sand and rubble being eroded by wind and wave back into the sea or into the lagoon. As sea level rises, the balance tips in favor of sand and rubble being added to the atoll. The result is that the atoll rises with the sea level.

Darwin’s discovery also explained why coral atolls occur in rings as in Fig. 2 above. They started as a circular inshore coral reef around a volcanic rock island. As the sea level rose, flooding more and more of the island, the coral grew upwards. Eventually the island was drowned by the rising sea levels, and all that is left is the ring of reef and coral atolls.

Why don’t we see atolls getting fifty feet high? Wind erosion keeps atolls from getting too tall. Wind increases rapidly with distance above the ocean. The atolls simply cannot get taller. The sand at that elevation is blown away as fast as it is added. That’s why all atolls are so low-lying.

When the sea level rises, wind erosion decreases. The coral itself continues to grow upwards to match the sea level rise. Because the coral continues to flourish, the flow of sand and rubble onto the atoll continues, and with reduced wind erosion the atoll height increases by the amount of the sea level rise.

Since (as Darwin showed) atolls float up with the sea level, the idea that they will be buried by sea level rises is totally unfounded. Despite never being more than a few metres tall, hey have survived a sea level rise of up to three hundred plus feet (call it a hundred metres) within the last twenty thousand years. Historically they have floated up higher than the peaks of drowned mountains.

So the third claim is not true either. Atolls are createdby sea level rise, not destroyed by sea level rise.

What is the real cause of salt water in the lens?

Given that the salt water intrusion can’t be a result of sea level rise (because the lens is floating), why is there salt water in the islanders’ wells? Several factors affect this. First and foremost, the fresh water lens is a limited supply. As island populations increase, more and more water is drawn from the lens. The inevitable end of this is that the water in the wells gets saltier and saltier. This affects both wells and plants, which draw from the same lens. It also leads to unfounded claims that sea level rise is to blame.

The second reason for salt water intrusion into the lens is a reduction in the amount of sand and rubble coming onto the atoll from the reef. When the balance between sand added and sand lost is disturbed, the atoll shrinks. When the atoll shrinks, the lens shrinks.

The third reason is that roads and airstrips and changes in land use and land cover has reduced the amount of rain making it to the lens. Less freshwater in, more saltwater in.

What is the real cause of loss of beach and atoll land?

An atoll is not solid ground. It is is not a constant “thing” in the way a rock island is a thing. An atoll is a not-so-solid eddy in a river of sand and rubble. It is an ever-changing body constantly replenished by a (hopefully) unending stream of building materials. It is a process, not a solid object. On one side, healthy reef plus beaked coral-grazing fish plus storms provide a continuous supply of coral sand and rubble. This sand and rubble are constantly being added to the atoll, making it larger. At the same time, coral sand and rubble are constantly being eaten away by waves and blown away by the wind. The shape of the atoll changes from season to season and from year to year. It builds up on this corner, and the sea washes away that corner.

So if the atoll is shrinking, there’s only a few possibilities. Erosion may have increased. The supply of sand and rubble, the raw atoll construction materials, may have decreased. Currents may have changed from reef damage, dredging, or construction.

Water erosion and current changes are increased by anything that damages or changes the reef. That thin strip of living coral armor is all that stands between a pile of sand and the endless waves. When the reef changes, the atoll changes.

Erosion is also caused by a variety of human activities. Road and path building, house construction, ground cover change, clearing of channels through the reef, the list is long.

The reduction in the supply of coral sand and coral rubble, however, is harder to see. This reduction has two main causes – using of coral for building, and killing the wrong fish. The use of coral as a building material in many atolls is quite common. At times this is done in a way that damages the reef. Anything that affects the health of the reef affects how much atoll building material it produces each year. This is the somewhat visible part of the loss of building materials, the part we can see.

What goes unremarked is the loss of the reef sand, which is essential for the continued existence of the atoll. The major cause for the loss of sand is the indiscriminate, wholesale killing of parrotfish and other beaked reef-grazing fish. A single parrotfish, for example, creates around a hundred kilos of coral sand per year. Parrotfish and other beaked reef fish create the sand by grinding up the coral with their massive jaws, digesting the food, and excreting the ground coral.

Beaked grazing fish are vital for overall coral health, growth, and production. This happens in the same way that pruning makes a tree send up lots of new shoots. The constant grazing by the beaked fish keeps the corals in full production mode. This greatly increases the annual production of coral for sand and rubble.

Unfortunately, these fish sleep at night, and thus are easily wiped out by night divers. The invention of the diving flashlight has meant that their populations have plummeted in many areas in recent years. Result? Less sand means less beaches, and means more claims of “CO2 is to blame, you can see the damage!”.

Some Practical Suggestions

What can be done to turn the situation around for the atolls? From the outside, not a whole lot. Stopping the Czechs from burning coal won’t do a damned thing. From the outside, we can offer only assistance. The work needs to occur on the atolls themselves.

There are, however, a number of low-cost, practical steps that atoll residents can take to preserve and build up their atolls, and protect the fresh water lens. In no particular order these are:

1. Stop having so many kids. An atoll has a limited supply of water. It cannot support an unlimited population. Enough said.

2. Catch every drop that falls. On the ground, build small dams in any watercourses to encourage the water to soak in to the lens rather than run off to the ocean. Put water tanks under every roof. Dig “recharge wells”, which return filtered surface water to the lens in times of heavy rain. Catch the water off of the runways. On some atolls, they have put gutters on both sides of the airplane runway to catch all of the rainwater falling on the runway. It is collected and pumped into tanks. On other atolls, they let the rainwater just run off of the airstrip back into the ocean …

3. Conserve, conserve, conserve. Use seawater in place of fresh whenever possible. Use as little water as you can.

4. Make the killing of parrotfish and other beaked reef grazing fish tabu. Stop fishing them entirely. Make them protected species. The parrotfish should be the national bird of every atoll nation. I’m serious. If you call it the national bird, tourists will ask why a fish is the national bird, and you can explain to them how the parrotfish is the source of the beautiful beaches they are walking on, so they shouldn’t spear beaked reef fish or eat them. Stop killing the fish that make the very ground underfoot. The parrotfish and the other beaked reef-grazing fish are constantly building up the atoll. Every year they are providing tonnes and tonnes of fine white sand to keep the atoll afloat in turbulent times. They should be honored and protected, not killed. Caring for the reef is the single most important thing you can do.

5. Be cautious regarding the use of coral as a building material. The atoll will be affected if anything upsets that balance of sand added and sand lost. It will erode if the supply of coral sand and rubble per year starts dropping (say from reef damage or extensive coral mining or killing parrotfish) or if the total sand and rubble loss goes up (say by heavy rains or strong winds or human erosion or a change in currents).

So when coral is necessary for building, take it sparingly, in spots. Take dead or dying coral in preference to live coral. Mine the deeps and not the shallows. Use hand tools. Leave enough healthy reef around to reseed the area with new coral. A healthy reef is the factory that annually produces the tonnes and tonnes of building material that is absolutely necessary to keep the atoll afloat. You mess with it at your peril.

6. Reduce sand loss from the atoll in as many ways as possible. This can be done with plants to stop wind erosion. Don’t introduce plants for the purpose. Encourage and transplant the plants that already grow locally. Reducing water erosion also occurs with the small dams mentioned above, which will trap sand eroded by rainfall. Don’t overlook human erosion. Every step a person takes on an atoll pushes sand downhill, closer to returning to the sea. Lay down leaf mats where this is evident, wherever the path is wearing away. People wear a path, and soon it is lower than the surrounding ground. When it rains, it becomes a small watercourse. Invisibly, the water washes the precious sand into the ocean. Invisibly, the wind blows the ground out from underfoot. Protect the island from erosion. Stop it from being washed and blown away.

7. Monitor and build up the health of the reef. You and you alone are responsible for the well-being of the amazing underwater fish-tended coral factory that year after year keeps your atoll from disappearing. Coral reseeding programs done by schools have been very successful. Get the kids involved in watching and recording and photographing the reef. Remind the people that they are the guardians of the reef. Talk to the fishermen.

8. Expand the atoll. Modern coastal engineering has shown that it is often quite possible to “grow” an atoll. The key is to slow down the water as it passes by. The slower the water moves, the more sand drops out to the bottom. Slowing the water is accomplished by building low underwater walls perpendicular to the coastline. These start abovewater, and run out until the ends are a few metres underwater. Commercially this is done with a geotextile fabric tubes which are pumped full of concrete. See the references for more information. In the atolls the similar effect can be obtained with “gabbions”, wire cages filled with blocks of dead coral. Wire all of the wire cages securely together in a triangular pattern, stake them down with rebar, wait for the sand to fill in. It might be possible to do it with old tires, fastened together, with chunks of coral piled on top of them. It will likely take a few years to fill in.  This triangular shape does not attempt to stop the water currents. Think of it as a speed bunp. It just slows the currents down and directs them toward the beach to deposit their load of sand. Eventually, the entire area fills in with sand.

Of course to do that, you absolutely have to have a constant source of sand and rubble … like for example a healthy reef with lots of parrotfish. That’s why I said above that the most important thing is to protect the fish and the reef. If you have a healthy reef, you’ll have plenty of sand and rubble to keep the atoll afloat forever. If you don’t, you’re in trouble.

Coral atolls have proven over thousands of years that, if left alone, they can go up with the sea level. And if we follow some simple conservation practices, they can continue to do so and to support atoll residents. But they cannot survive an unlimited population increase, or unrestricted overfishing, or overpumping the water lens, or unrestrained coral mining. Those are what is killing the atolls, not the same sea level rise that we’ve had for the last hundred years.

FURTHER REFERENCES:

On global sea level rise levelling off: University of Colorado at Boulder Sea Level Change,  http://sealevel.colorado.edu

On Darwin’s discovery: Darwin, C., The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, 1887

“No other work of mine was begun in so deductive a spirit as this; for the whole theory was thought out on the west coast of S. America before I had seen a true coral reef. I had therefore only to verify and extend my views by a careful examination of living reefs. But it should be observed that I had during the two previous years been incessantly attending to the effects on the shores of S. America of the intermittent elevation of the land, together with the denudation and deposition of sediment. This necessarily led me to reflect much on the effects of subsidence, and it was easy to replace in imagination the continued deposition of sediment by the upward growth of coral. To do this was to form my theory of the formation of barrier-reefs and atolls.” (Darwin, 1887, p. 98, 99)

On the results of coral mining and changing the reef: Xue, C. (1996) Coastal Erosion And Management Of Amatuku Island, Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu, 1996, South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), http://conf.sopac.org/virlib/TR/TR0234.pdf This atoll was cited by the Sierra Club as an example of the dangers of sea level rise. The truth is more prosaic.

On the same topic: Xue, C., Malologa, F. (1995) Coastal sedimentation and coastal management of Fongafale, Funafuti, Tuvalu, SOPAC Technical Report 221

More information on how parrotfish increase reef production: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/1051-0761(2006)016%5B0747:TIOEGS%5D2.0.CO%3B2

On the cause of erosion in Tuvalu: Tuvalu Not Experiencing Increased Sea Level Rise, Willis Eschenbach, Energy & Environment, Volume 15, Number 3, 1 July 2004 , pp. 527-543, available here (Word doc).

On expanding island beaches: Holmberg Technologies, http://www.erosion.com/

On the dangers of overpopulation: Just look around you …

——————————————————-

[UPDATE June 3, 2010] Other scientists are catching up with me (emphasis mine).

Global and Planetary Change, Article in Press, Accepted Manuscript, doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.05.003

The dynamic response of reef islands to sea level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the central pacific

Arthur P. Webb a, and Paul S. Kench b; a South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, SOPAC. Fiji; b School of Environment, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand

Received 22 February 2010; accepted 13 May 2010. Available online 21 May 2010.

Abstract

Low-lying atoll islands are widely perceived to erode in response to measured and future sea level rise. Using historical aerial photography and satellite images this study presents the first quantitative analysis of physical changes in 27 atoll islands in the central Pacific over a 19 to 61 year period. This period of analysis corresponds with instrumental records that show a rate of sea level rise of 2.0 mm.y-1 in the Pacific.

Results show that 86% of islands remained stable (43%) or increased in area (43%) over the timeframe of analysis. Largest decadal rates of increase in island area range between 0.1 to 5.6 hectares. Only 14% of study islands exhibited a net reduction in island area.

Despite small net changes in area, islands exhibited larger gross changes. This was expressed as changes in the planform configuration and position of islands on reef platforms. Modes of island change included: ocean shoreline displacement toward the lagoon; lagoon shoreline progradation; and, extension of the ends of elongate islands. Collectively these adjustments represent net lagoonward migration of islands in 65% of cases.

Results contradict existing paradigms of island response and have significant implications for the consideration of island stability under ongoing sea level rise in the central Pacific.

First, islands are geomorphologically persistent features on atoll reef platforms and can increase in island area despite sea level change.

Second; islands are dynamic landforms that undergo a range of physical adjustments in responses to changing boundary conditions, of which sea level is just one factor.

Third, erosion of island shorelines must be reconsidered in the context of physical adjustments of the entire island shoreline as erosion may be balanced by progradation on other sectors of shorelines. Results indicate that the style and magnitude of geomorphic change will vary between islands. Therefore, Island nations must place a high priority on resolving the precise styles and rates of change that will occur over the next century and reconsider the implications for adaption.

In other words, the islands are floating upwards with the sea level rise, just as I had said. So for those in the comments section who think I’m just making this up … think again. In particular, the final comment by lkrndu22 says that I am “hoist by my own petard” because ocean acidification has already caused “evident and severe” damage … ‘fraid not. The islands continue to rise. The main cause of damage to the corals is … coral mining and killing the fish. And islands where that is happening are in danger, as I indicated above.

But sea level rise? The atolls have lived through that for thousands of years without damage.

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226 Responses to Floating Islands

  1. Ross says:

    Willis, James and friends- OT slightly- in researching an article I am writing myself I have just come across an amazing observation by Francis Bacon in 1620 that to me sums up the whole Climategate, IPCC, Himalayagate and all the other gates that I would like to share with you:

    “Those who have taken upon them to lay down the law of nature as a thing already searched out and understood, whether they have spoken in simple assurance or professional affectation, have therein done philosophy and the sciences great injury. For as they have been successful in inducing belief, so they have been effective in quenching and stopping inquiry; and have done more harm by spoiling and putting an end to other men’s efforts than good by their own.” (Bacon)

    The full text is in translation here: http://www.constitution.org/bacon/nov_org.htm

    Just something to reflect on. Best wishes and thank you for all your hard work.

  2. chili palmer says:

    Re Obama’s speech, reference to climate change science, Mary Kissel of Asia Wall St Journal interviewed on a radio program was asked if other countries view (man caused) climate change as settled science as Obama does. She said not at all, other countries don’t accept it at all, the only places it’s still accepted are the White House and Australia.

  3. toyotawhizguy says:

    Persons that take up residence on an atoll are just asking for trouble. Sooner or later they will have to deal with a deadly Tsunami. Eventually, mother nature will take care of the overpopulation problem in one way or another.

    “The Most Important Video You’ll Ever See” (part 1 of 8)

  4. BOP says:

    Thank you very much. Good information.

    Ben

  5. Gary Hladik says:

    “For three years I lived on and worked on and had wells dug on and watched the moon rise over and dived in the lagoon and on the reef wall of a coral atoll in the South Pacific…”

    At this point I nearly stopped reading out of sheer jealousy, but fought it down and was rewarded with a fascinating article. Well done, Willis.

    I’m still jealous, though.

  6. JaneHM says:

    Another contributor to shrinking is the shrinking of the volcano as it continues to cool

  7. Ray Boorman says:

    Willis, all you have written is common sense to a thinking person – which is why it will be ignored, or ridiculed, by those with a vested interest in maintaining the AGW business model.

  8. Geoff Sherrington says:

    Willis, Please be careful, you might set another precedent, because this is a mixture of observation, deduction and common sense. As one who grew up with grains of tropical sand between my toes, I have no argument with any statement above. Thank you for putting the parrotfish in contect. I had not thought of them as quite so important.

    Yep, you are quite right. The repeated process of walking over a sand track can make a rivulet. That is more relevant to the health of the atoll than Czech CO2.

  9. jerry says:

    One side effect of road, airstrip and housing construction is an increase in water available to go into the ground and a decrease in the natural extraction from the ground.

    Building roads and houses removes trees and brush – which are natural pumps drawing water from the water table and delivering it to the air by evapo-transpiration. This effect can be quite significant – equivalent to metres of groundwater in a year.

    The new ‘hard’ surfaces also make catchment more efficient – assuming it is channeled to soak wells. Where vegetation stands there is usually a prolonged delay in rainwater entering the groundwater system. This gives a much longer time for it to evaporate.

  10. Baike says:

    Fascinating read.

    If your post is accurate, how can it be that the leaders of these atolls can make claims that they’re sinking due to sea level rises and be taken seriously on the international stage (regardless of the cause of those sea level rises)?

    Is the culture of fear so great that one is cautious of even correcting the most obvious of mistakes? Or is ignorance/laziness the dominating factor?

    [REPLY - Follow the money! ~ Evan]

  11. Moemo says:

    I will go forth and edumacate my friends on the truth regarding these special places called, Atols.

    Great piece Willis and thank you Anthony for bringing it to us here.

  12. Clive says:

    Willis

    Thank very much for this informative article.

    I’ve made a PDF for future reference.

    Clive

  13. Zorro says:

    Fascinating post, thanks, Willis!

  14. par5 says:

    A population may not exceed its annual rainfall. Good stuff- thanks Willis.

  15. Bulldust says:

    Love it Willis. What amazes me is this… how exactly did the Micronesians determine that it was Czech Republic’s carbon causing them harm? Yes, I am being facetious, but theirs is an ambit claim so I think I am justified. The IPCC has a lot to answer for because it has encouraged a lunatic fringe in society to pursue ridiculous actions such as these.

    Hopefully common sense will prevail.

  16. Kasmir says:

    Good post Willis, but to expand on what you wrote, the central reason that atolls don’t drown stems from the growth rate of the reef-building corals. “Modern” stony corals, particularly the ubiquitous Acropora genus, grow at about 6″ per year in tropical conditions. That’s about 50X the average sea level rise we’ve been seeing, so the reef tops easily keep up with the sea level rise. Wave action especially during storms does indeed regularly throw coral rubble (and sometimes live reef) atop the living reef above sea level, where it rapidly erodes as you describe, sustaining the intermittent ring of low-lying sandy islands that make up an atoll.

    So it would take an incredibly enormous increase in sea level rise to “drown” live coral reefs. It’s also worth observing that all corals are colonial animals and also sexually reproduce via sporulation. and the spores can travel long distances to establish new colonies. Hence coral have been able to cope with many, many dramatic and even abrupt climate changes in earth’s history.

    Particular configurations of coral colonies are always growing and renewing themselves, and are fundamentally transient. the Great Barrier Reef is about the same age as the Great Pyramids. As a class, coral has been around for 500m+ years and has survived numerous extinction events. Coral is quite resilient. The principle impact of any further global warming would be to extend its range to higher latitudes.

  17. Retired Engineer says:

    Common sense ecology? Without lawyers? Perish the thought!
    If it were not such a bad joke, Eschenbach deserves a Nobel Prize.
    (no insult intended)

    What might happen if we applied this kind of logic to all our problems?

  18. Mike McMIllan says:

    I’ve been watching the Colorado sea level site for several years now, The rise leveled off in 2005 from its long-term rate of 3.2 mm/year down to around 2. The last couple entries have it climbing back up again. By 2100, the sea should rise almost a foot. I think those busy little polyps could keep up with it.

  19. wayne says:

    In claim 2: “The amount of fresh water in the lens is a balance between what is added and what is withdrawn or lost. ”
    and
    “The lens is only replenished by rain.”

    Rain is the only addition, but bet multiple hotel pools and hundreds of rooms with high pressure showers tend to suck that sea water right up into those lens pools as the fresh water is sucked out for the holiday vacationers!

  20. Chris Polis says:

    I’d say this has to be one of the best pieces of work I have read here in the last few months. Informed, comprehensive, and practical. Props.

  21. stumpy says:

    As an environmental engineer who specialises in hydrogeology, hydrology and hydraulics I find it hard to believe anyone with half a brain can think sea level rise will lead to saline intrusion – I hope its not scientists saying garbage!

    The sea forms the downstream boundary condition and generates a tailwater effect upon which the attenuated rainfall sits above, with the flow path, porosity and frictional losses setting the hydraulic grade and drain down time between rainfall. The factors that will influence this is as was correctly stated increased drawdown or reduced rainfall / increased evapotranspiration or possibly increases in tidal range leading to increase saline intrution in coastal areas during high tide.

  22. PeterB says:

    Thanks Willis, a great read.

    I feel quite a lot of sympathy for people living in places such as this, being told (with what appears to be a great deal of authority by scientists and NGOs) that their homes and livelihood are at risk by the actions of others. Unlike the Indian government in the case of the glaciers, they probably don’t have the resources to falsify the claims themselves.

  23. wayne says:

    Hey, someone forgot all of the hotels around the beaches when the drew that atoll illustation!

  24. Toto says:

    The cheapest solution to the islanders’ fears of rising sea level would be to grant them American citizenship.

  25. yonason says:

    That sea level anomaly data doesn’t appear to square with this.
    http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/paperncgtsealevl.pdf

    But I guess satellites, measuring sea level from a few hundred kilometers up, are more accurate than ‘on-site’ data collection? …you know, like ARGO temps vs those measured by satellite which are preferred by warmers.

  26. Roger Carr says:

    Floating Islands has a compelling simplicity that belies its scholarship. Or is this really how scholarship should always be presented?
    Thank you, Willis Eschenbach, for both education and enchantment… and tools to use against misinformation and hysterics.

  27. stan stendera says:

    WOW! Good, Good stuff.

  28. Ron Dean says:

    Great article. Good science and practical advice. What more can one ask for?

    Well, I guess I can ask for one more thing – Do you need an assistant to live on those atolls?

  29. wayne says:

    Willis:

    More seriously, with the increased tourism to many islands, they are bound to have an increased drain on local resources, such as fresh water. Are the hotels and tourism related housing replenishing some of this drain through desaltination or water imports? Are they carrying their load or just adding to the island’s fresh water problems?

  30. Deadman says:

    Thanks for that.
    A few suggestions:

    “The lens is only replenished by rain” should be “The lens is replenished only by rain.”

    In “Despite never being more than a few metres tall, hey have survived…”, ‘hey’ should be ‘they’.

    In “The third reason is that roads and airstrips and changes in land use and land cover has…”, ‘has’ should be ‘have’.

    “This reduction has two main causes – using of coral for building, and killing the wrong fish.” I’d prefer something like: “This reduction has two main causes: the use of coral for building, and killing the wrong fish.”

    “This is the somewhat visible part of the loss of building materials, the part we can see.” Well, yes, we can see visible things, but somewhat?

    “Less sand means less beaches” should be “Less sand means fewer beaches”.

    “Of course to do that, you absolutely have to have a constant source of sand and rubble … like for example a healthy reef with lots of parrotfish.”
    I’d prefer something like: “Of course, to do that, you absolutely have to have a constant source of sand and rubble—which a healthy reef with lots of parrotfish has.”

    In “Those are what is killing the atolls,” ‘is’ should be ‘are’, but I’d prefer: “Those things are killing the atolls”.

  31. Dave Harrison says:

    What do the IPCC reports say on this? – I do hope that they have not depended on the WWF for information on coral islands too.

  32. Andy in Christchurch NZ says:

    This has been a very informative article. Thank you.

    We in NZ get a lot of pressure on our responsibilty to Pacific Islands due to “Climate Change” and this succinctly puts it all in perspective.

    OT from Ross, commenter #1, the quote from Bacon sums it up for me. This is not about whether we care about saving the planet, ( the usual warmist counterstrike) but whether we care about open and honest scientific and intellectual discourse. Brilliant!

  33. tokyoboy says:

    I posted this days ago on another thread, but cannot resist to post it again:

    http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/shindan/a_1/sl_trend/sl_trend.html

    Caption: Sea level trend around Japan for 1906-2008.
    Comment by our Meteorological Agency: No clear trend during the 103 years, and a 20-year oscillation is evident.

    You see that in the satellite age (1993-present), the curve is very similar to that on the Willis’ Figure, i.e., a 4-cm rise and a leveling-off trend over the 18 years or so.

  34. Luboš Motl says:

    Even according to top IPCC predictions for sea level rise, all of Prunéřov power plant will increase the sea levels by 42 microns in 25 years.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2009/12/micronesia-will-be-sunk-by-czech-coal.html

    The Micronesian environment minister has revealed in the interview for Czech counterpart of the Wall Street Journal that the whole protest was inspired by Greenpeace who are also sending them all the data and technical details (probably including the format and legal issues):

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/01/micronesian-minister-greenpeace-tells.html

    Greenpeace means Greenpeace CZ, and its boss for energy and climate campaigns, Mr Jan Rovenský, who was my friend for 2 weeks back in 1988 when we were teaching Czech to the Russians in our, Pilsen’s twin city Yekaterinburg, then Sverdlovsk.

    Rovenský sent a similar proposal to sue the Czech Republic to all island countries in the world – but he said that he was still shocked that one of them, Micronesia, actually said Yes.

    Pretty good case of high treason for Jan could be made.

  35. J.Hansford says:

    I agree with most of that…. Just the fishery part I have problems with.

    You can harvest any fast growing fishes with little danger of over fishing…. Just needs to be done right, is all.

    People aren’t stupid once they know the reasoning…. Only bureaucrats think people are stupid herd animals worthy of only conning in this direction and then in that direction….

    Anyway…. What’s better than having the national bird as the national dish also? :-)

  36. Willis Eschenbach says:

    yonason (22:13:36)

    That sea level anomaly data doesn’t appear to square with this.
    http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/paperncgtsealevl.pdf

    But I guess satellites, measuring sea level from a few hundred kilometers up, are more accurate than ‘on-site’ data collection? …you know, like ARGO temps vs those measured by satellite which are preferred by warmers.

    Your paper references the SEAFRAME dataset, which is a good one. SEAFRAME is a project which has put very accurate tide gauges around the Pacific.

    Ollier (your reference) draws very different conclusions from the SEAFRAME data than I do. He says they show no rise. I say, and the SEAFRAME folks also say, that sea level is rising in the South Pacific, just as it is (on average) globally.

    SEAFRAME data for Tuvalu is available here.

  37. RACookPE says:

    yonason (22:13:36) :

    That sea level anomaly data doesn’t appear to square with this.
    http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/paperncgtsealevl.pdf

    But I guess satellites, measuring sea level from a few hundred kilometers up, are more accurate than ‘on-site’ data collection?

    —-

    Well, er, yes.

    See, unlike the prejudged (and biased) sources that AGW advocates invent, the satellites we “realists” prefer are unbiased and much more accurate than a surface measurement of RELATIVE beach heights tampered by up and down land movements, beach erosion, water table movements (from pumping and recharging) changing the land height, land erosion, tides, winds, storms, local flooding, etc.

  38. Baa Humbug says:

    I know (knew) nothing about the dynamics of coral atolls. How refreshing to be able to read a reasonable and logical piece. Yet another from Willis. Thankyou sir for broadening my horizon.

    I couldn’t help but visualize Ian Fry of Tuvalu (an Australian actually) almost crying in his impassioned plea to the COP 15 in December. Here is the video…
    (the cry starts at 3min mark)

    And here is what the IPCC says in it’s synthesis report…

    “By the 2080s, many millions more people than today are projected
    to experience floods every year due to sea level rise. The
    numbers affected will be largest in the densely populated and
    low-lying megadeltas of Asia and Africa while small islands
    are especially vulnerable (very high confidence). {WGII 6.4, 6.5,
    Table 6.11, SPM}

    Willis I would have thought Islanders would have had a good understanding of their atolls. Do they? If so, their demands are just political opportunism. If not, well…I’m surprised. Usually indigenous peoples know their environment quite well.

  39. Willis Eschenbach says:

    J.Hansford (23:18:38)

    I agree with most of that…. Just the fishery part I have problems with.

    You can harvest any fast growing fishes with little danger of over fishing…. Just needs to be done right, is all.

    People aren’t stupid once they know the reasoning…. Only bureaucrats think people are stupid herd animals worthy of only conning in this direction and then in that direction….

    Anyway…. What’s better than having the national bird as the national dish also? :-)

    The problem was advancing flashlight technology. Parrotfish have strange sleeping habits. They find a niche in the reef. They spit out some kind of strange mucus which envelops their entire bodies. This magically makes them invisible to every creature in the night-time ocean … except humans with dive lights. In my youth before I gave up spearfishing I used to swim right up until the spear point was almost touching them, and pull the trigger.

    This gives them a much, much greater danger of overfishing than the fish you mention above. You can wipe them out altogether too easily.

  40. Al Gore's Holy Hologram says:

    Water usage is increasing thereby offsetting increases in ice melt, and that usage should continue to increase as we irrigate dry lands and deserts which are home to the poorest on the planet.

    The racist, elitist, imperialist powers that be and their even worse cohorts in the Green movement better make it or allow it to happen.

  41. Peter of Sydney says:

    Really good article. Why doesn’t the IPCC come up with such detailed and clearly explained analysis? Ah yes I forgot – it’s a political organization, not a scientific one so it’s analysis are based on spin and cherry picked and sometimes corrupted data.

  42. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Very good post!

    On September 12, 2008, the International Herald Tribune published (my heavily edited, since I also explained the importance of the rubble and sand build-up) letter to the editor:

    “A self-inflicted problem

    In “Climate change: With millions under threat, inaction is unethical” (Views, Sept. 10) the president of the Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, contends that the Maldives are threatened by climate change, yet he fails to acknowledge that coral islands have survived during a rise in sea levels of 120 meters since the last ice age.

    Under natural conditions, coral is perfectly able to grow upwards, keeping pace with any relative rise in sea levels.

    If someone has to be blamed for the eventual demise of any of the Pacific or Indian Ocean coral islands, it is the inhabitants themselves. They are the ones who are destroying the natural coral habitat by creating roads and buildings, allowing bad fishing practices and many forms of pollution. With dead coral, these islands have no natural mechanism to keep them above water. The inconvenient truth is that these islands are not sustainable under permanent human inhabitation.”

  43. TonyB says:

    Another great article.

    Readers need to put sea levels into their historic perspective-just like temperature recors, a snapshot since satellites began do not reveal the full picture.

    Chapter five of AR4 demonstrates the manipulation (and errors) that went on in order to create a base line figure-it was derived from only three North European tide station data which was heavily interpolated and adjusted.

    Records show higher levels existed at the time of medieval castle building on coasts-for example Harlech castle in Wales has a sea gate no longer accesible to the sea. In Roman times the sea level was also generally higher and around three thousand years before that seems to have been the high point for sea levels.

    The sea level discuission is greatly complicated by different rates of change around the world caused by local factors such as development, earthquakes, isostatic depresion or rise of land, deposition, erosion etc.

    There is simply no sign at all that levels will rise by more than a few inches over the coming century.

    Read Chapter five if you want to see a fudge of figures greater than the Hockey stick.

    tonyb

  44. Michael says:

    The Davos world economic forum in Switzerland looks like it is being snowed in. Wouldn’t it be ironic it the pushers of the world wide carbon tax got stuck there because of global cooling?

  45. Baa Humbug says:

    Here is the Tuvaluan representative calling for help as the Island sinks. I think it’s Lubos who got the call :)

    (I hope the mods let me get away with this) lol

  46. Varco says:

    Willis, one of the most informative posts I have read in a while. Congratulations.

  47. Mattb says:

    Wow – amazing – have you thought of publishing this in a real journal so that genuine research experts in the field can comment on it, or learn from it?

  48. Mike D. says:

    Great post, good job Willis. My kneejerk skepticism compels me to ask, however, what about the surf? Doesn’t that constant wave pounding on the reef grind up a fair amount coral, with or without the parrot fish? Can you separate the hydraulic mechanical demolition from the piscine demolition and account for each? I think it is a lovely tale, atolls are parrot fish-dependent and all, but being a cold blooded natural doubter, I have a hard time swallowing it whole.

    Irregardless, I liked your essay and can swallow 99% of it.

  49. JER0ME says:

    toyotawhizguy (21:04:07) :

    Persons that take up residence on an atoll are just asking for trouble. Sooner or later they will have to deal with a deadly Tsunami. Eventually, mother nature will take care of the overpopulation problem in one way or another.

    “The Most Important Video You’ll Ever See” (part 1 of 8)

    Wow! Thank you so much fo that, toyotawhizguy.

    As a born mathematician (we are born, not made) the argument is so obvious I am gobsmacked that I had not seen it before. It matters not a jot if fossil fuel deposits are actually increasing. Once we find out they are not, once we realise the finite resource is really finite, we have a really, really, short time before it ends.

    The argument is that say we put some bacteria in a bottle at 11:00, and it is full at 12:00, when did the bottle ‘seem’ crowded? at 11:56 it was ‘almost empty’. At 11:59 it was still half empty.

    The same is true of any finite resource. At 7% increase in consumption (and I think China will make that a joke), we use the same amount every decade as has EVER been used before. Once we hit 50% of all the fossil fuels, we have 10 more years and then no more at all. None. That is just at a mere 7% increase a year.

    This seriously call for a really hard look at some kind of resource that is not finite. What’s that word again? Oh yes, “renewable”.

    Now that is an argument I can take on board. Sod CO2!

  50. Geoff Sherrington says:

    Up above it says “all corals are colonial animals and also sexually reproduce via sporulation”

    I’m a colonial animal. Sure would like to try that sporelation thingo. Do you need leather and [snip]?

  51. Lindsay H says:

    ot but nice video interview with james delingpole looking foreward from Climaegate etc. as to wht might happen with Alec Jones on Infowars

  52. Patrick Davis says:

    “JER0ME (00:51:23) :

    The same is true of any finite resource. At 7% increase in consumption (and I think China will make that a joke), we use the same amount every decade as has EVER been used before. Once we hit 50% of all the fossil fuels, we have 10 more years and then no more at all. None. That is just at a mere 7% increase a year.”

    How can you prove this given ~70% of the Earth’s surface remains largely unexplored and upto 40% oil remains in capped off oil wells?

  53. Lindsay H says:

    oops see this one first 1/or 2

  54. Juraj V. says:

    Why the Tahitians targeted our brother nation – Czechs – is beyond my imagination.
    I have a suggestion: send your Tahitian women here. Your need for fresh water will go down (women use a lot of water for their personal use) and Czechs will need less heating (less coal burning) at winter, since ladies from Tahiti are so hot. Last but not least, men will not spend evenings staring at electricity-consuming PCs and TVs.

  55. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Chris Schoneveld (00:00:36), I was with you up ’til your last line.

    … The inconvenient truth is that these islands are not sustainable under permanent human inhabitation.”

    Since they have been inhabited continuously by humans for five hundred to a thousand years depending on the atoll, I’m not sure what you mean by “permanent”.

  56. Alan Wilkinson says:

    Willis, an excellent article that made me pine already for our next winter escape to our favourite Cook Islands. Greenpeace has acted disgracefully over this and deserves to be sued.

    By misinforming and misleading the islanders Greenpeace puts their lives at risk since as you so clearly point out they need to understand the true ecology of their fragile and dynamic environments in order to survive and prosper.

    With modern technologies and abundant solar energy there are many options to tackle the real issues, even to employ desalination if necessary.

  57. Andrew P says:

    Another excellent essay Willis. Can someone make sure that the Czech government’s lawyers get a copy?

  58. Barry Sheridan says:

    Excellent article Willis. Thank you for explaining how a coral atoll can survive.

  59. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Mike D. (00:49:54) : edit

    Great post, good job Willis. My kneejerk skepticism compels me to ask, however, what about the surf? Doesn’t that constant wave pounding on the reef grind up a fair amount coral, with or without the parrot fish? Can you separate the hydraulic mechanical demolition from the piscine demolition and account for each? I think it is a lovely tale, atolls are parrot fish-dependent and all, but being a cold blooded natural doubter, I have a hard time swallowing it whole.

    Irregardless, I liked your essay and can swallow 99% of it.

    In my head post I said:

    On one side, healthy reef plus beaked coral-grazing fish plus storms provide a continuous supply of coral sand and rubble.

    Yes, big surf from storms are the source of the rubble. The parrotfish make only sand.

    There’s little in the way of hard numbers in this field that I’ve found. Whether the sand is three quarters parrotfish and one quarter storms or some other number, however, doesn’t matter to me. The issue is that the beaked grazing fish are essential to having a thriving coral reef. If the reef is thriving, both the storms and the parrotfish make much more rubble and sand.

    Thanks,

    w.

  60. Ralph says:

    Have sea-levels really been rising remorselessly over the centuries?? By 30cm per century, as that graph above would suggest??

    The ancient Greek port at Phaselis, in western Turkey, has been abandoned for about 1700 years, and yet the port and its bollards for tying up ships is only about 40cm lower in the water than I would expect for a port designed for small wooden boats. The sea-level is currently some 45cm below the harbour walkway, and an extra 40cm might be more comfortable for unloading ships. But certainly no more.

    Remember that there are no tides in the Med, so these do not need to be taken into consideration. And unlike the subducting Greek coast, the coast of Turkey is geologically more stable. There is also no ice-age rebound to worry about.

    The ancient port at Phaselis suggests a sea-level rise of 2.3cm per century, not 30cm per century.

    .

  61. Michael says:

    toyotawhizguy (21:04:07) : Wrote

    “Persons that take up residence on an atoll are just asking for trouble. Sooner or later they will have to deal with a deadly Tsunami. Eventually, mother nature will take care of the overpopulation problem in one way or another.

    “The Most Important Video You’ll Ever See” (part 1 of 8)”

    Loved that Video. It spelled out so succinctly the definition of growth. Generic Growth. I always knew this type of growth was un-sustainable, especially in the economy. That’s why I preferred a growth rate of about .01% per year. Nobodies going to get rich on that rate of growth, but oh well.
    Generic growth sucks.

  62. supercritical says:

    Willis,

    Congratulations on a really good article. Nature Study writ large! It reminds me of the kind of inspiring geography lessons from school; object lessons the process of natural science.

    As an aside, an absolute fundamental is that those atolls are made from CO2. No Co2 = No Atoll. Coral polyps absolutely RELY on the CO2 dissolved in the seawater. So, I reckon the Czech government ought to counter-sue for ggtound-rent on the extra reef-growth that has outpaced the sea-level rise, and is instrumental in saving these islanders?

    And being completely cynical, it is no accident that cargo-cult ‘science’ itself emanates from such closed communities, and one can see the case for paternalistic colonialism as a means of preventing the believers self-harming. If they get the compensation from the Czech ‘John Frum’ they are asking for, they will merely carry on wrecking their environment, and go the way of the Easter Islanders.

  63. Andrew P says:

    Slighly OT but related in that it involves the law suit arising from the alleged impact of CO2 emissions on Kivalina, a low-lying island off Alaska. (Less ice +higher sea levels = more coastal erosion). The islanders are suing US power companies for as much as $400 million, which seems rather a lot. (Nothing against the Inuit Alaskans and I am no friend of big business but I am sure that re-settling on the mainland could be done for a lot less).

    The story was covered by John Schwartz in the NYT’s environement section a couple of days ago:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/business/energy-environment/27lawsuits.html

    and its worth looking at for the image of Kivalina itself – what a place to live.

    Not checked the comments today or yesterday, but I seem to remember a good scattering of sceptics amongst the gullible greenies.

  64. Alexander says:

    Thanks Willis, for a superbly-written and entertaining piece that communicated the science clearly and unequivocally. Having struggled years ago to teach pre-university kids how to write succinct, accurate and elegant prose, your writing is a model in every sense.
    As former rural dwellers in NZ, we used rain water caught on the roofs and stored in large concrete tanks. We used our waste water to irrigate gardens, flush toilets, etc.
    Growing up with Maori and Polynesian people, I know they are as keen to make a buck as anyone and no doubt Melanesians are similar. I get angry about the sheer dishonesty of Greenpeace and other advocacy groups who encourage very expensive (for the Islanders) and totally cycnical court actions which, hopefully, have no chance of success.
    The Tuvaluans dynamited their reef for easier access, which has wrecked the natural balance and structure of their very fragile island.
    The Carteret Islands in Papua are actually perched on the peak of an undersea volcano, which is shrinking rapidly as it cools. The sea there is not rising, the Islands, only 1.5 or so metres above the high tide line, are sinking with the volcano.

  65. Jimbo says:

    Instead of addressing the real known problems of Atoll salt-water ‘rises’ and intrusion such as freshwater uptake, removal of vital coral fish such as the Parrotfish and the extractions of sand for construction purposes etc., a few misguided souls have decided to finger the trace gas CO2. The mistake that so many AGW alarmists make is to apply the wrong solution to the wrong problem and end up NOT solving the ‘problem’ while the real problems are paid less attention. The result being continued erosion and ‘sinking’.

    Now see what Nils-Axel Mörner a former lead reviewer for the IPCC and expert on sea level rise had to say about the Maldives in an open letter to their president.

    “The people of the Maldives had no problems surviving the 17th century, which was 50cm higher than now. Nor the last century, where it rose by 20cm. This bodes well for their prospects of surviving the next change.”…..

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/5595813/why-the-maldives-arent-sinking.thtml

  66. Andrey Levin says:

    Increased freshwater usage is not the problem. The problem is discharge of untreated sewage straight into the ocean. Properly treated sewage (which was fresh water moments before it was used in shower, sink, or toilet) could be 100% reintroduced back into “recharge wells”. It is done, for example, in Israel, and on massive scale.

  67. Michael says:

    Referring to the video, “The Most Important Video You’ll Ever See” (part 1 of 8)”

    Doubling the money supply every 16 years means the population must double as well for everyone to stay on the same level. Thats not what happens. The extra fiat money gets disproportionately distributed to the higher ups giving them more power. That’s why a gold or basket of precious metals currency is important. A limiting factor needs to be taken into consideration. The real money doesn’t grow on trees.

  68. brc says:

    Baike
    “If your post is accurate, how can it be that the leaders of these atolls can make claims that they’re sinking due to sea level rises and be taken seriously on the international stage (regardless of the cause of those sea level rises”

    These tiny nations see a good chance of getting some big cash payouts from the IPCC controlled process by working the collective guilt of the taxpayers of industrialised nations. That’s why the representative from Tuvalu was in tears in Copenhagen, despite the fact he actually lives in Canberra, and has done for about 15 years.

    I’d put up a song and dance as well if I thought I could net a couple of million out of it.

    I’m willing to bet a lot of the problems are caused by modernisation of the societies on these small island nations. I’m not suggesting that they go back into grass huts, but it takes time to work out a balance with the natural environment.

    When you think about it though, a Coral Atoll is almost the only piece of land that doesn’t have a problem with sea levels, given the coral will always grow right up to the bottom of the low tide level. Thanks for pointing this out.

  69. brc says:

    I’d just like to add one more thing. He’s definitely right about the Parrot fish. When diving on a reef all you can hear is the constant pecking. It’s like the start of a rain storm on a tin roof. Tack tack tack tack tack.

    And when you follow a parrot fish around, every now and again you can see a very sandy no 2. come out.

  70. John Wright says:

    Willis, you’ve done it again. I have been a keen reader of your articles since you posted your Thermostat Hypothesis a few months back which I copied and often go back to.

    The paradox here is that the environmentalism behind CAGW seems to be having an effect on local populations diametrically opposite to that presumably intended, i.e. that CO2 serves as a scapegoat absolving them from taking direct care of their own environment. What you are proposing here is what environmentalism should be all about.

  71. Dave Wendt says:

    RACookPE (23:39:58) :
    yonason (22:13:36) :

    That sea level anomaly data doesn’t appear to square with this.
    http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/paperncgtsealevl.pdf

    But I guess satellites, measuring sea level from a few hundred kilometers up, are more accurate than ‘on-site’ data collection?

    —-

    Well, er, yes.

    See, unlike the prejudged (and biased) sources that AGW advocates invent, the satellites we “realists” prefer are unbiased and much more accurate than a surface measurement of RELATIVE beach heights tampered by up and down land movements, beach erosion, water table movements (from pumping and recharging) changing the land height, land erosion, tides, winds, storms, local flooding, etc.

    Actually many tidal gauges are now tied into the GPS network, so that precise correction for land movement can be made.
    When I looked into this sometime last year I believe the number I found for the orbital height of the TOPEX/JASON sats was given at about 1335km, but I’m working from memory on that. In another life many years ago I worked with survey instruments that are very similar but not identical to the one on the sats. Even today the top of the line survey instruments can’t do better than 2mm+/- 2ppm over a couple miles from a fixed tripod to a set of precision retroprisms. If you shoot a semi reflective surface the accuracy drop by an order of magnitude or 3. Measurement times for top accuracy are 2 to 5 seconds. This would indicate that the inherent accuracy of any single sat measurement is somewhere between +/-10ft, if they are somehow able to match the retroprism bouncing their signal off a continuously varying ocean surface, to something more like +/-50 to 100 feet or more. Since the sats are moving and the surface is also, no individual reading can really be repeated to gain accuracy by averaging, and individual readings are done in fractions of a second,so if they are actually able to achieve the tenth of a mm results that they always have on their graphs, they deserve all the prizes the world could possibly offer. Me, I’m not so sure.

  72. DirkH says:

    How absolutely amazing! Thanks, Willis, the important role of the parrotfish was not known to me. You are a true scientist.

  73. yonason says:

    Willis Eschenbach (23:26:02) :

    Thanks. So, there’s an element of interpretation, which is fine, because the science isn’t yet settled. The problem with the warmers, as you know, is they accept no one else’s interpretation.

    Just found this…

    Compare the graph in body of your post above with figure 10 in this paper.
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/MG_Leuliette2004.pdf

    The figure you use looks like it may have been “enhanced” by the warmers, as temperatures have been? Or is there some other explanation?

    Note that, according to the paper I’m referencing, data exists back to 1992, and at that extreme it only goes to about -15, whereas they have it going to about -20 in 1993, as in the above. If that is indeed the case that they are truncating early and shifting the zero reference up, the result being a huge difference in endpoint which dramatically increases the slope. That’s a mighty BIG red flag.

    Forgive me if I’m a bit gun-shy after all the data manipulation they’ve done to push their agenda. I’m not going to trust them with any more of the details until they clean house and become totally transparent.

  74. TerryS says:

    Re: Mattb (00:47:19) :

    Wow – amazing – have you thought of publishing this in a real journal so that genuine research experts in the field can comment on it, or learn from it?

    Instead of just trolling perhaps you should look at the references. eg:

    On the cause of erosion in Tuvalu: Tuvalu Not Experiencing Increased Sea Level Rise, Willis Eschenbach, Energy & Environment, Volume 15, Number 3, 1 July 2004 , pp. 527-543,

  75. Nicely done, Willis — such compelling reading that I could not put it down. Your great concern for the welfare of those living on such islands is evident in the remedies you have thought about and describe so clearly. This exposition is a simple and complete riposte to every future claim of peril ascribed to “global warming” and our emissions of CO2.

    We should all forward it to the reporters and editors we know. It and the citations it includes has earned a leading place in my references. I hope to make a shortened version to use for letters to editors.

    Thank you.

    Richard Treadgold,
    Convenor,
    Climate Conversation Group.

  76. tty says:

    Ralph (01:39:35) :

    Ancient shorelines in a tectonically active area like the Mediterranean have only a very vague relationship to sea-level since the land moves (up or down) much faster than the sea level. For example in Italy the shoreline from the previous interglacial (c. 120,000 years ago) is now found from +190 meters (625 feet) to -130 meters (425 feet) and virtually any level in between. This implies average long-term rates of rise or subsidence as high as 1.5 meters per millenium (1.5 mm/yr), and short-term figures are certainly much higher.

  77. Cement a friend says:

    Willis, that report on Tuvalu you linked is by an NGO for a Department concerned with aid. I have not read it fully. It could be biased towards AGW. However, the sea level graphs look very similar to that of Ollier. There is some Australian researcher at ANU who represented Tuvalu at Coepenhavn ( more or less how the Danish would pronounce it). I think he was paid to be there by the Australian Government. he may have been a contributor.
    A better report by the Aust. Govt. BOM is here http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography
    Called South Pacific Sea level and climate Monitoring Project, Sea Level summary report July20089-June2009. There are some interesting details about ENSO and PDO. You will see a much more detailed graph on Tuvalu which shows no increase in sea level since 1998. It is good see that in some parts of BOM there are still objective scientists.
    regards

  78. Peter Dare says:

    Excellent analysis, and especially for the Darwinianconnection. But, did not Darwin also add that atolls built around extinct volcanic rims will eventually sink with the volcano, due to tectonic forces? As far as I am aware, his theory has not been disproved and many such islands are in very active tectonic zones. A geological interpretation of the current situation would be welcome.

  79. Patrick Davis says:

    “supercritical (02:00:30) :

    If they get the compensation from the Czech ‘John Frum’ they are asking for, they will merely carry on wrecking their environment, and go the way of the Easter Islanders.”

    One must remember the Easter Islanders were driven by a strong desire to please their “Gods”. They stripped their land of trees in order to transport and errect the “statues”. The island is littered with semi-finished “idols” and the evidence of their demise.

    There is plenty of evidence on the island of a certain level of chaos. It reminds me of the Moche in what is now Peru and what happened in Egypt.

    People were sacrifcing their environment *AND* themselves to the “gods”. When the “gods” did not respond, well, societies destroyed themselves.

    Idols, spirits and gods are human concepts. Global climate change will not stop this belief most people want to think of an afterlife and be to “saved” (AGW etc).

    I really wish people would just get their heads around the fact we’re just monkeys, and not much smarter either. *wink*

  80. yonason says:

    RE: MY yonason (02:54:31)

    I just realized I misread the scale. They only go back to 1993, not 1992.

    However, the primary problem remains.

    The linear fit of your graph looks good from 1993 to 2004 (same range as the paper I sited). That’s a problem for me because in my ref., the slope also fits the data well, and it’s slope is 2.8/yr. Compare that with your ref., which looks like about 3.5/year.

    Something is not right here. Can you show me if, and where I made a mistake?

  81. GaryPearse says:

    Superb article. One thing:the volcanic island also sinks into the seafloor so it is a combo of rising sealevel and subsidence. Certainly the major factor osubsidence can’t be blamed on CO2 and the phenomenon itself even more strongly supports your view of the compensation ofliving coral to change in sealevel.

  82. AdderW says:

    Mattb (00:47:19) :

    Wow – amazing – have you thought of publishing this in a real journal so that genuine research experts in the field can comment on it, or learn from it?

    …and not a peer reviewed one, eh? :)

  83. EW says:

    About that Czech Prunerov coal plant: The owners (CZE) want to close part of it and rebuild the rest. Our Green ministry is not happy with the technology they want to use (38% effectivity) and forces them to use the “best” one, which, however, has 41% and increases the renovation price about 50%. CZE says, that the ‘best” technology is based on black coal and not on the low-quality brown coal which would never produce the 41% value and that the plant also supplies heat, which increases the overall effectivity to 50%. Plus – the coal would be probably finished in 25 years and the “best” technology would never pay itself back in that time span.
    So I presume that the Green Ministry started to pressure CZE using that Greenpeace-induced Micronesia letter. However, CZE said that in case they would not get permission for rebuilding the plant with their chosen technology, they would simply let it run as it is, with all the excessive CO2 AND more of dust particles.

  84. Allan M says:

    Thanks for this article, Willis. I’m getting to like your work more these days.

    If Darwin understood this, how come the parasites at Browndeath, sorry, Greenpeace don’t understand it? And they call us flat earthers!

    Here in the UK we have taken to building houses on flood plains. It’s cheaper because the land is already pretty level and easier to excavate. It counts for nothing that this is the best agricultural land; ‘why do we have to grow food when we can just buy it (so last century).’ But when the floods come it always seems to be someone else’s fault, or global warming. But then everyone needs to be a victim of something so that someone else can be made to pay. This is their thermosocialist paradise. Seems to have similarities to what you are saying.

    So the third claim is not true either. Atolls are created by sea level rise, not destroyed by sea level rise.

    Don’t the greenies get pretty well everything back to front?

  85. Tonyb2 says:

    What an excellent post!

    Well reasoned, researched and presented

    Great job

  86. TerryS says:

    Re: Patrick Davis (01:04:34) :

    “JER0ME (00:51:23) :

    The same is true of any finite resource. At 7% increase in consumption (and I think China will make that a joke), we use the same amount every decade as has EVER been used before. Once we hit 50% of all the fossil fuels, we have 10 more years and then no more at all. None. That is just at a mere 7% increase a year.”

    How can you prove this given ~70% of the Earth’s surface remains largely unexplored and upto 40% oil remains in capped off oil wells?

    At a 7% increase per year the consumption roughly doubles every decade (actually its by 1.97 but its close enough). What this means is if you use 1 unit in the first decade then you will use 2 units the next decade and 4 the one after etc. In other words your usage in any one decade is the sum of your usage in all previous decades (1+2+4+etc) plus one.
    At some point in the future we will have used 50% of the fossil fuel resources (whether this is in 10, 20 or 100 years) and if the consumption is still increasing at 7% then there will only be a decades worth of fossil fuel left. This is a mathematical certainty and is due to the doubling every decade.

  87. tty says:

    ” When you think about it though, a Coral Atoll is almost the only piece of land that doesn’t have a problem with sea levels, given the coral will always grow right up to the bottom of the low tide level.”

    Not quite true in the long run. Sooner or later the corals always lose out to sea-level rise. There are no really old atolls, geologically speaking. As the volcanic islands move away from the spreading ridges and hotspots where they are created yhe seabottom they stand on gradually subsides and the “high” islands become “low” and ultimately change to atolls which for a while keep up with subsidence but finally become submarine reefs and ultimately seamounts (a. k. a. guyots). The whole process takes several million years, and is beautifully illustrated by the Hawaii island chain, from Big Island (active volcanoes) through the “high” islands getting ever lower to the west and turning into atolls, and ultimately to seamounts west of Midway. Also there is a new island building SE of Big Island (Loihi seamount) which is now less than 1000 meters below sea level and will very likely “surface” within a few thousand years.

    Of course ytectonics occasionally goes the other way too. There are several “high” ex-atolls where the former lagoon is now a dry limestone plateau. Niue and Henderson Island are examples of this.

    Incidentally here is an interesting paper with regard to the “Maldives disappearing act”:

    Late Quaternary reef growth and sea level in the Maldives (Indian Ocean)

    GISCHLER Eberhard ; HUDSON J. Harold ; PISERA Andrzej ;

    Marine geology, vol. 250(1-2):104-113.

    Abstract
    Based on rotary drilling and radiometric and U-series dating, we present the first comprehensive data on Holocene reef anatomy and sea-level rise as well as nature and age of underlying Pleistocene limestone in the Maldives. Holocene reefs in Rasdhoo Atoll, central Maldives, are composed of four facies including (1) robust-branching coral facies, (2) coralline algal facies, (3) domal coral facies, and (4) detrital sand and rubble facies. Branching coral and coralline algal facies predominate the marginal reefs and domal corals and detrital facies preferentially occur in a lagoon reef. In addition, microbialite crusts are found in lower core sections of marginal reefs. Microbialites formed during the early Holocene in reef cavities. Holocene reef thickness ranges from 14.5 m to >22 m. Reef growth started as early as 8.5 kyr BP. Marginal reefs accreted in the keep-up mode with rates of > 15 m/kyr. Rate of sea-level rise significantly slowed down from 7-6 kyr BP and subsequently gradually rose with rates < 1 m/kyr. The lagoon reef accreted in the catch-up mode with rates of around 4 m/kyr. Even though no indications of a higher than present sea level were found during this study, it is not entirely clear from the data whether the sea gradually rose to or exceeded present level in the late Holocene. Submarine cementation in Holocene reefs studied is rather weak, presumably as a consequence of high accretion-rates, i.e., short time available for consolidation. Pleistocene coral grainstone was encountered in one core at 14.5 m below present level and three U-series dates indicate deposition during marine isotope stage 5e ca. 135 kyr BP.

    So 14.5-22 meters (45-70 feet) of coral has accumulated in about 10,000 years, and the reef (if left in peace) is capable of keeping up with a sea-level rise of more than 15 mm/yr, i. e. five times the current rate, or equivalent to at least 1.35 meters (4.5 feet) to 2100.

  88. AdderW says:

    From The Times:

    January 28, 2010
    Scientists in stolen e-mail scandal hid climate data
    Ben Webster, Environment Editor, and Jonathan Leake

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7004936.ece

  89. DennisA says:

    Brilliant, an excellent resource. When I read of dynamiting and dredging of reefs and then they seek reparation from us for “climate change damage caused by our use of fossil fuels” it makes me spit.

    And they are now employing greenie advisors to tell them how to get the money, Greenpeace are advising Tuvalu:
    http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6360

    Q. “How did you, an Australian native, become Tuvalu’s lead climate negotiator?

    A. I’ve been on the job for 11 years. I was working for Earth Negotiations Bulletin and Greenpeace before that.

    I met the prime minister of Tuvalu at a meeting and provided him with a briefing on climate change. He then invited me to come onto their delegation at [the 1997 climate negotiations in Kyoto, Japan]. It evolved from there. I now work full time for the Tuvalu government as an international environment advisor. ”

    The other moonbat journo, Mark Lynas, is now climate advisor to the Maldives government,
    http://www.climatevulnerableforum.gov.mv/?page_id=52

    Speech for the Climate Vulnerable Forum – Mark Lynas, Climate Adviser to the Maldives:

    “We are here today because we know what climate change means. For us, this is not a scientific abstraction.”

    “Here in the Maldives, the very integrity of the nation is being eroded, by a triple-whammy: rising ocean levels which swamp the islands, higher sea surface temperatures which kill the coral, and ocean acidification which dissolves the carbonate rocks the reefs are built from.”

    Money, money, money, always money…..

  90. David W says:

    I have done a great deal of diving round the great barrier reef in Northern Queensland.

    One thing I have noticed is that damage to coral reefs in this area gets worse the closer you are to mainland Australia. The close in reefs are in fairly poor condition. The dive sites a little further out really arent in bad condition and the reefs like Osprey which are up to 200km off the mainland I would describe as pretty much pristine and I have plenty of video footage to back this up.

    I’m not a scientist but this raises some questions for me and makes me think that most of the reef damage closer in is probably related to agricultural run off and to some extent tourism (large amounts of inexperienced divers and boat traffic can play havoc with a reef).

    I’d really like to see some studies of remote reefs to see if they show the same degree of susceptibility to alleged warming SST’s as the sites close to the mainland. My experience from hundreds of dives on these sites is they do not.

  91. Even the BBC is now publishing stuff that says “it could still be big trouble (read we have grants that have to be protected with caveats), but it may not be as bad as we predicted:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8483722.stm

  92. Ken Harvey says:

    Clive – Please explain to me how to save this as a pdf file. Thanks in anticipation.

  93. Chris Wright says:

    Many thanks, an excellent piece on an important subject.It’s ironic that the islands were created in the first place by sea level rise!
    Chris

  94. Patrick Davis says:

    “TerryS (03:32:44) :

    At some point in the future we will have used 50% of the fossil fuel resources (whether this is in 10, 20 or 100 years) and if the consumption is still increasing at 7% then there will only be a decades worth of fossil fuel left. This is a mathematical certainty and is due to the doubling every decade.”

    Only true if no new discoveries are made, the “prediction” It is based on current reserves. As ~70% of the Earth is undicovered…well, who says what is finite (In human terms)? Oil companies (Just drooling for liquid CO2, thanks to our taxes).

  95. JER0ME says:

    @ TerryS (03:32:44) :

    thanks for explaining

  96. pwl says:

    “Despite never being more than a few metres tall, hey have survived a sea level rise of up to three hundred plus feet …”

    The “t” that goes with the “hey” must have evaporated… too much sunlight… [:o]

    Very interesting article. I had no idea that atolls were so cool. Almost like a well made drink with multiple layers… [:)]

  97. JER0ME says:

    Actually, the doubling every decade at 7% increase is something that many sceptics gloss over when stating that we add 3% of CO2 (of the 0.038%) to the atmosphere annually. #%, that’s not much is it? Well, by the same principle, that doubles the CO2 we have contributed every 23 years.

    Having said that, it is reassuring that the CO2 concentrations only seem to be increasing in a linear fashion, so the plants of the world are probably feasting well.

  98. Allan M says:

    TerryS (03:32:44) :

    This is a mathematical certainty and is due to the doubling every decade.

    What is not a certainty is the doubling every decade; just a projected trend.

    JER0ME (00:51:23) :

    This seriously call for a really hard look at some kind of resource that is not finite.

    Sounds like you should try theology for that. This is the real world. But I shouldn’t worry about the trends. They don’t continue.

  99. JER0ME says:

    Patrick Davis (04:10:29) :

    “TerryS (03:32:44) :

    At some point in the future we will have used 50% of the fossil fuel resources (whether this is in 10, 20 or 100 years) and if the consumption is still increasing at 7% then there will only be a decades worth of fossil fuel left. This is a mathematical certainty and is due to the doubling every decade.”

    Only true if no new discoveries are made, the “prediction” It is based on current reserves. As ~70% of the Earth is undicovered…well, who says what is finite (In human terms)? Oil companies (Just drooling for liquid CO2, thanks to our taxes).

    This is, as TerryS sates, a mathematical certainty. The only ambiguity is what constitutes ‘50%’. The lecture points out very clearly that when estimated (by experts) reserves are taken into account, we will probably have 30 to 40 years left tops if we increase consumption at 7%. The trouble is, as the man states very clearly (and I think is demonstrated here, possibly) we do not immediately understand the impact of a 7% increase of something, or ‘exponential growth’ think ‘compound interest’. At a 7% interest rate, your money doubles every 10 years. At a 7% annual increase in consumption, you double the amount consumed every 10 years.

    So when we have used 50% of all fuels (and that is never certain until we know there is no more), if we carry on increasing our rate of consumption, we have only 10 more years of consumption left. It’s as simple as that.

    The lesson I take home is a finite resource with increasing consumption (and that may even be ‘steady’ per capita consumption), will cause a far more rapid end pint than common sense tells us. Decades of increasing consumption teaches us there are decades more. Mathematics dictates different. The end is a swift one, and in this case painful. So we need to invest in a resource that is not finite. That would be renewable energy, although Fusion could give us a lot of breathing space.

    ‘Nuff said, I won’t bang on about it, but it is a bit of a revelation to me, although obvious to the mathematician in me now.

  100. Vincent says:

    Excellent article, Willis.

    Thinking people must have pondered that same question – if the oceans have been rising for millenia, how come the atolls are exactly at sea level just at this moment in history. Coincidence or what? Now we know.

    The fact that the commonsense practical methods for preserving the atolls and their fresh water that Willis discussed, is either unknown or ignored by mainstream science, is nothing less than a crime. How can we be so stupid as to pour billions on funding climate change research, beat our breasts over atolls “disappearing beneath the waves,” and not have a clue about what’s going on?

    Meanwhile we work out ways to tinker with our CO2 emissions whilst blithley slaughering the parrot fish, and non chalantly drawing out the fresh water lens without a single thought about conservation. Now who are the real environmentalists?

  101. MattB says:

    It would be really useful if the above article was referenced.

  102. TerryS says:

    Re: Patrick Davis (04:10:29)

    Only true if no new discoveries are made, the “prediction” It is based on current reserves. As ~70% of the Earth is undiscovered…well, who says what is finite (In human terms)? Oil companies (Just drooling for liquid CO2, thanks to our taxes).

    Patrick, this is based upon mathematics, nothing else. Fossil fuels are finite (whether there are other sources of abiotic fuel is another matter). If you consume a finite resource (no matter what the rate) then at some point you will have consumed 50% of the resource (if you have a bank account that doesn’t behave in this way then let me know ;) ). This is irrespective of how much of that resource you have found up till now.
    If your consumption of that resource continuously increases by 7% per annum then when 50% has been consumed you only have a decades worth left. This is basic mathematics.

    If we have only consumed 1% of the total fossil fuel available and our consumption is increasing by 7% per year then:
    2010 – 2020 consume 2%
    2020 – 2030 consume 4%
    2030 – 2040 consume 8%
    2040 – 2050 consume 16%
    2050 – 2060 consume 32%
    2060 – 2070 should consume 64% but there is only 100 – (1+2+4+8+16+32) = 37% left.

    I am not saying that consumption will keep on increasing at 7% or that we will run out in 2060 – 2070 or that we have used 1% of the total available (available = discovered + undiscovered). I am simply saying that Jerome’s maths is correct.

    If you consume a finite resource and your consumption increases at 7% per annum then when you have consumed 50% of that resource you only have a decades worth left. This is basic high school maths (think geometric progressions and compound interest).

  103. Thomas says:

    Tuvalu and Oil I read about Tuvalu being given a loan from Japan to build an oil fired power station in 2005. I don’t remember Ian Fry mentioning that in his speech. They are almost totally dependent on fossil fuels. I also read an article entitled ‘loyalty for hire’ or something close to that. They are almost entirely dependent on aid from the EU, Japan and Taiwan. Taiwan gives them millions in exchange for their recognition of Taiwan as a country. Was it a surprise that a country controlled mainly by Taiwan was being used in Copenhagen to prod the Chinese with AGW propaganda.

  104. TerryS says:

    Re: Allan M (04:36:10) :

    What is not a certainty is the doubling every decade; just a projected trend.

    I agree. I was defending the maths, not the assumptions and since it was the maths that was questioned, I defended it.

  105. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Willis Eschenbach (01:12:54) :
    Chris Schoneveld (00:00:36), I was with you up ’til your last line.

    … The inconvenient truth is that these islands are not sustainable under permanent human inhabitation.”

    Since they have been inhabited continuously by humans for five hundred to a thousand years depending on the atoll, I’m not sure what you mean by “permanent”.

    Willis,

    Since the letter was edited so much the last sentence became somewhat as a surprise statement. The “permanent” actually referred to the permanent infrastructure like roads, airport, stone houses. These permanent structures cannot move upward with the new position of the island. The natural processes that keep the island above the water like new sand addition due to waves etc. cannot be allowed with permanent structures. Thousands of years the inhabitants just packed up there living quarters and resettled. So indeed the permanent structures will eventually be flooded if the modest 2 mm/year sea level rise continues.

  106. maz2 says:

    Al Gore’s Weather (AGW):

    “**”It’s very hard for any of us to grasp how this larger warming trend is happening when we’re still having wintry weather,””

    “*But just what that block will consist of and who will slather it on are questions that need to be urgently answered, a Canadian researcher argued Wednesday in the world’s premier science journal.”
    …-

    1. “*Earth needs sunblock and fast, scientist says
    Toronto Star”
    http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/science/article/756904–earth-needs-sunblock-and-fast-scientist-says

    2. “**Report: Harsh winter a sign of climate change (More “Global Warming” insanity)

    MSNBC ^ | 1/28/2010 | Juliet Eilperin and David A. Fahrenthold/WP

    This winter’s extreme weather — with heavy snowfall in some places and unusually low temperatures — is in fact a sign of how climate change disrupts long-standing patterns, according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation.

    It comes at a time when, despite a wealth of scientific evidence, the American public is increasingly skeptical that climate change is happening at all. That disconnect is particularly important this year as the Obama administration and its allies in Congress seek to enact legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions and revamp the nation’s energy supply.

    “It’s very hard for any of us to grasp how this larger warming trend is happening when we’re still having wintry weather,” said National Wildlife Federation climate scientist Amanda Staudt, the new report’s lead writer.”
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2439160/posts

  107. gober says:

    Very interesting article Willis.

    Just for my reference, how deep are these lenses of fresh water? Are we talking 1m, 3m, 10m of fresh water? How far below the land surface do they start?

  108. Christopher S says:

    Great article. I lived in Maldives for the summer of ’09 (having married my Maldivian wife there in May), and I can vouche for the claim about political rhetoric about rising ocean levels spewed forth from their President etc.

    Linking this to my and her Facebook in the hopes that she links it to her Maldivian network so the people there can know the truth.

  109. Gary says:

    Excellent post, Willis. Desalination might be another source of freshwater, perhaps powered by solar energy.

    Also, it is quite an important point that islands have very precise carrying capacities and that over-population is a constant threat. Witness the history of Easter Island as an example.

  110. Pamela Gray says:

    Atolls (old extinct volcano cores and craters) are created by both rise and fall of sea level. That high hill you are standing on overlooking the beach? Dig into it. You will find dead coral. Way above your sea level. And unless you are sitting on an active volcano, your island mountain top is wasting away from erosion, and at a very fast pace. Now don a diving suit and slip under the water into the steep bank surround your little space. Dig into the bank. Yep. Dead coral there too. It died because the sea level rose. The live coral is right about where they like it best. So if sea level is rising, you should be pretty damn happy because the coral is busy making you some land. Your island is building some beach for you. If the sea level stopped rising and stayed the same, your offspring down the line would be in a world of hurt sitting in a bathtub with no island in sight. The rise and fall of sea level may even be a necessary component of coral life, providing for a relief from over crowding by populating fresh space up or down from the current level of coral life.

    You know, maybe it is time for us to resurrect some old holidays centered towards sacrifices made to mother nature. We seem to have started a religion that worships humankind, with saviors and devils to fill our blog pages up with gossip, news and such. Not that I haven’t enjoyed the show.

    Pass the popcorn.

  111. Ron Cram says:

    Willis,
    Thank you for writing this. I learned a great deal. Let me know if you are successful getting the parrotfish named as the national bird. Great idea.

  112. Woodsy42 says:

    That was a fascinating, relevant and very clearly explained article. Thank you.

  113. Peter Miller says:

    An exceptionally good article. No doubt Dr Pachauri of TERI (Terribly Evasive Rich Indian) and IPCC fame would denounce it as ‘voodoo science’.

    At the current time, rising or falling sea level measurements in just one locality have little meaning, as the greatest movement would probably be the result of a) the constant shifting of tectonic plates, b) the upwelling of magma deep in the Earth’s crust, or c) the ‘spring back effect’ of glaciers which melted 10-12,000 years ago – for example the SE of the UK is sinking at almost a foot per century, while the north is rising at about the same rate.

  114. Jeff Id says:

    Fun article Willis. I really enjoyed it.

  115. JT says:

    Chris Schoneveld (05:18:26) : “These permanent structures cannot move upward with the new position of the island. The natural processes that keep the island above the water like new sand addition due to waves etc. cannot be allowed with permanent structures. Thousands of years the inhabitants just packed up there living quarters and resettled. So indeed the permanent structures will eventually be flooded if the modest 2 mm/year sea level rise continues.”

    OR: If the reef building corals are kept healthy the ongoing addition of sand to the atoll will tend to bury the permanent structures just as it buried the original mountaintop. Remember that the height of the Atoll keeps rising by the addition of coral sand to stay more or less level with the rising sea.

  116. Mikira says:

    I like your idea of them not having so many kids, but it almost seems to me that humans shouldn’t even live on atolls. (I’m not saying that can’t be beautiful resort spots.) I’m just saying there shouldn’t be a major population base on them. Since it’s sounds to me the residents are doing a lot of the damage to the atolls by over populating them.

  117. Pamela Gray says:

    I think that all passed their prime folks should be given high priority to spend the rest of their days on atolls. We don’t want more children, let alone no longer having the capacity, and with the right sort of beach attire, we will scare away young people wanting to come to the island and leave their erosion producing footprints on our sand. I care not to spend my days building anything, so that issue is taken care off. And if there is a banana tree on the place, my morning, noon, and evening drin…er…meal, has been taken care of.

    Where do I get my ticket? I’m all packed. I grabbed my toothbrush and comb and shoved them in my purse.

  118. Anticlimactic says:

    A fascinating article which makes good sense when read. Propaganda can only survive when there is ignorance. I think that perhaps a court case would be useful, it would allow information such as this to be presented against wild claims based on fantasy.

    It would be interesting to see how many AGW ideas would survive when presented in a court of law.

    Slightly O/T – I have always been fascinated by ‘Salter’s Duck’, a machine to convert waves to electricity. The point is that it removes 90% of the energy from waves so it should be possible to use these to grow atolls. If electricity generation is not required then it would reduce costs considerably. I have often thought that these machines could also be useful for protecting coastlines and oil rigs.

    http://www.technologystudent.com/energy1/tidal7.htm

  119. Kevin Kilty says:

    JaneHM (21:13:23) :

    Another contributor to shrinking is the shrinking of the volcano as it continues to cool

    The volcano doesn’t shrink, but rather the sea floor declines as it ages and cools. There are guyots all over the pacific that are now well under the waves, and native legends tell of the time that a few of these islands finally disappeared and were evacuated. One interesting guyot is in the Tonga trench I think and it is even titling as it goes down the subduction zone.

  120. wesley bruce says:

    Excelent work. I knew the details but you put things togeather better than I could of. Bill Mollison the founder of Permaculture teaches the same thing so the greens have no excuse; their ignoring the truth.
    No mention of geological subsidence with the general subsidence of the cooling sea bed; that was taught in my school days. Have a missed a change in geological theory. Subsidence is only a few more mm per year if its occuring at all.
    We have a formerly nomadic population settled on a few islands in densities that they can’t support. These countries own the largest portion of the earth surface. Nobody thinks about per capita sea bed but as we learn to use the seas resources that will matter alot. At this stage the only things really holding back these island nations is their failure to grasp the resources just off shore. That requires studies in marine biology, robotics, sea bed minerals and geology, ocean fertilisation and fish farming. The UN blocks a little on sea bed mining but that will change as the technology gets cheaper. The UN does not have a navy.
    I’m in the Sea Steading Institute; we’re working on the other kind of floating island. Cities on the sea. http://seasteading.org/
    If the low island nations are to develop they need factories, mobile clinics, mobile community centers and ship building infrastructure. While the atols will suffice for most functions returning to a high technology version of their ancestors nomadic life style will help. I’m looking at that.
    See also another option for these islands. http://vacoyecology.com/Bubble_ponds_fluke_boats.html
    Its floating farms on the logoon or the open ocean using cheap Plastics.
    Willis program for the islands is easy by comparison.

  121. Kevin Kilty says:

    Tilting…not titling!

  122. David says:

    Re: Pamela Gray (Jan 28 06:19),
    Pamela
    What a great idea for us oldies – did you have any particular atoll in mind? Pick one and I’ll see you there. If you get there first, my dinner’s a nice long G & T.

  123. Chris Schoneveld says:

    JT (06:05:53) :

    “OR: If the reef building corals are kept healthy the ongoing addition of sand to the atoll will tend to bury the permanent structures just as it buried the original mountaintop. Remember that the height of the Atoll keeps rising by the addition of coral sand to stay more or less level with the rising sea.”

    I deliberately mentioned: “cannot be allowed ” to indicate that after each storm or other causes of new new sand addition, the islanders would clean up the sand. Hence the natural sand build-up will not be given a chance due to human intervention.

  124. Pamela Gray says:

    No Kevin. I’m fairly sure I used the correct word in my retire on the beach post…titling.

  125. AdderW says:

    Al Gore’s Wallet (AGW)

  126. yonason says:

    Dave Wendt (02:40:31) :

    Thanks, Dave.

    Note that paper I referenced in my response to Willis
    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/MG_Leuliette2004.pdf
    describes results of calibrating the sats against the tidal gauges and how they are adjusted for drift, etc. Also note how these results also appear different from those given in the graph Willis posts, for the same region. My ref., gives a slope of 2.8mm/yr vs., their 3.5mm/yr, a difference of 20%. And yet, the linear regressions look like they fit the data of the years they share in common equally well. Looks to me like there were some pretty significant “adjustments” made to the data(?), and I’m not any too comfortable with that, not just given what they’ve done to temperatures.

  127. Baa Humbug says:

    I like the “save in pdf” idea. Anthony, any chance there can be a “pdf version” option at the end of each article?

    I’m hopeless with puters.

  128. AdderW says:

    The BBC:

    Climate e-mails row university ‘breached data laws’
    A university unit involved in a row over stolen e-mails on climate research breached rules by withholding data, the Information Commissioner’s Office says.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8484385.stm

  129. Paul J says:

    I read about this article over at ‘C3′ ( http://www.c3headlines.com/2010/01/is-human-co2-causing-ocean-islands-to-be-swamped-by-rising-seas-short-answer-nope.html ) and they said it was a “keeper.” After reading it here, I can see why they said that. Thanks for the great info.

  130. David Middleton says:

    Great article, Willis!

    While it is true that over geological time, coral reefs can be “drowned” by rising sea level… The reef just moves. There are buried, “drowned” Pleistocene coral reefs off the coast of Florida that are seaward of the current reefs. The sort of sea level rises associated with glacial-interglacial cycles can cause reefs to reposition themselves over fairly long distances.

    However, the sort of sea level rise that has occurred since the coldest part of the Little Ice Age has been both insignificant compared to glacial-interglacial changes and very beneficial to coral reef growth.

    I plotted the excellent sea level reconstruction from Jerejeva et al., 2008 (1)along with the average calcification rate of ~60 GBR reefs from De’ath et al., 2009…

    Sea Level vs Calcification Rate

    Coral reefs respond to sea level rise in much the same way they respond to warming and an increasing supply of CO2… They grow faster.

    To put the sea sea level rise of the last 300 years into perspective, I plotted the Jerejeva reconstruction at the same scale as the glacial-interglacial sea level changes over the last 1 million years…

    Jerejeva and Miller

    The total vertical change in sea level over the last 300 years is a “dot” in relation to the vertical changes between glacial and interglacial conditions.

    De’ath, G., J.M. Lough, and K.E. Fabricius. 2009.
    Declining coral calcification on the Great Barrier Reef.
    Science, Vol. 323, pp. 116 – 119, 2 January 2009.

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

  131. Gerard says:

    This really is a great post. It is the climate/environment problem in a nutshell. CO2 and climate are blamed and the simple environmental causes – here having a healthy coral system – are overlooked. I have no doubt this can be extrapolated to other “climate issues” Gletsjers in some parts of the world, water vapor, chopping down rainforest comes to mind.

  132. a reader says:

    population figures for the Maldives (115 sq. miles-total area):

    1957–93,000 source: National Geographic Mag. June 1957
    1966–94,527 source: Hammond World Atlas
    1981–144,000 source: National Geographic Mag. Oct. 1981
    2009–396,334 source: CIA factbook

  133. yonason says:

    Oh, yes, and please see here,
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/30/roger-pielke-senior-on-real-climate-claims-bubkes/
    where they have the slope as 3.2mm/yr (first graph there). And, again, it just doesn’t look quite the same.

  134. Werner Weber says:

    Willis, may I comment somewhat late that the 3 millimeter per year sea level increase correspond to approx. 1000 cubic km water added to the oceans. On the other hand, approx. 1200 cubic km are pumped from ground water reservoirs. Some of that is taken out for good, some is just taken in advance of the next rainy season. No hard data exist how much is pumped for good, leading to permanent lowering of ground water tableaus.
    The pumping is done mainly for irrigation. The Phoenix region in Arizona is said to have lowered the ground water level by approx. 400 meters, similar reports I have heard from Greece.
    Nobody seems to be interested in hard numbers. There is no UNESCO program to monitor groundwater levels, neither has IPCC ever requird hard data, to my knowledge.

  135. yonason says:

    Anticlimactic (06:19:20) :

    According to this article, wave power appears to be THE most expensive alternative energy source.
    http://halfwisehalfwit.blogspot.com/2010/01/why-spend-little-when-you-can-spend-lot.html

  136. James Sexton says:

    OT, but I like to give heads up when ever a climate story appears in MSM….well sort of MSM it’s Fox but still…….http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/01/28/scientists-climate-gate-scandal-hid-data/?test=latestnews

  137. TonyB says:

    Anti Climatic said:

    Slightly O/T – I have always been fascinated by ‘Salter’s Duck’, a machine to convert waves to electricity. The point is that it removes 90% of the energy from waves so it should be possible to use these to grow atolls. If electricity generation is not required then it would reduce costs considerably. I have often thought that these machines could also be useful for protecting coastlines and oil rigs.
    http://www.technologystudent.com/energy1/tidal7.htm

    ***

    I recently wrote an article on wave energy for a journal and actually spoke to Prof Salter who now works at Edinburgh University.

    In my article I did suggest that arrays of wave energy devices close to the coast could act as a means of breaking up waves that affect certain areas (such as the Dawlish Stretch of the Great Western Railway) as well as generating electricity.

    Unfortunately wave power has barely moved on since the Salter Duck was first featured on ‘Tomorrow’s World’ which is where I suspect you first saw it.

    Unfortunately the amount of reseach on wave energy has been very limited and is probably at least 10 years behind wind technology, so it is very doubtful if we will see significant electricity generation from waves for 20 years, unless interested parties-especially governments- put their money where their mouth is (British phrase for American readers!)

    Tonyb

  138. AdderW says:

    2010 – President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/State_of_the_Union/state-of-the-union-2010-president-obama-speech-transcript/story?id=9678572

    …”I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.”…

    someone really need an update on the overwhelming scientific evidence…

  139. Matt in Wyoming says:

    I’m an Engineer in Wyoming, and another thought occurred to me. With all these people consuming water and food and visitors to hotels, etc. Where is all the waste going?

    When we design waste water treatment systems, we have to account for water table intrusion, whether it is a series of waste water lagoons, or a septic system. If the waste is too close to or can penetrate into the water table, the entire area can become contaminated and unsuitabe. On an atoll with a “floating” water table level and extremely porous soils, and most likely not enough organic matter to absorb and filter out the contaminants, how much of an impact will that have on their fresh water availability?

    Sorry if a bit OT.

    Matt

  140. ThinkingBeing says:

    Good article, and one that makes sense.

    It’s a shame that the reasoned plea to the islanders to value and conserve their limited resources doesn’t seem to apply to western civilizations. That’s far too inconvenient for us to consider.

  141. JonesII says:

    Ross (20:48:05) : Yes. We have been taught to “believe” in physical laws as they were “dogmas”, that is why they bear names like Newton´s law of gravitation, which are for none to doubt, but what if the majority of these “sacred laws” are not general laws but lucky correlations which can be applied to practice, being useful only within limited boundaries?. This is what they really are: WORKABLE CONVENTIONS but not universal truths. We must look after real general laws, and these, we can intuitively say, must be very simple and easy to understand.
    Here it is where a tacit agreement among “new scientists” appears,a silent pact and consensus among agnostics, it proclaims that we, ordinary humans, are not supposed to know or to comprehend anything, only god can
    WUWT and we, what are really trying to say is that our conviction is that real knowledge is perfectly possible, away from “settled science”, then We can call ourselves gnostics
    There are real truths and simple laws out there for us to apprehend and know if we begin losing respect to the false gods and saints of contemporary science church.

  142. MrLynn says:

    Ken Harvey (03:51:19) :
    Clive – Please explain to me how to save this as a pdf file. Thanks in anticipation.

    On a Mac, using Safari or Camino (don’t know about other browsers), File->Print, then click PDF->Save As PDF.

    For Windows, someone else will have to comment.

    /Mr Lynn

  143. R. Craigen says:

    Wait a minute — that graph says that the sea level rise abruptly decreased in rate around 2004. So the oceans began to stop rising NOT during Obama’s reign, but in the middle of the Bush administration! I’m going to have to exchange my “We can do it!” button for one that says “He already did it!”

  144. Alan F says:

    Excellent article! Population is a dirty word in the “greenie” sales pitch. They know its unsaleable.

  145. HotRod says:

    An extremely enjoyable and interesting post. Thank you.

  146. Ralph says:

    >>Even the BBC is now publishing stuff
    >> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8483722.stm

    No. They are hiding it away on thier website – this will not be on the 10’oclock News.

    This is only there so that when MPs claim that the BBC is biased, they can say “no, it is here on the website” (and at lest three people have read it)….

    .

  147. Scott B says:

    OT: Some people will enjoy reading this:

    Amplification of Global Warming by Carbon-Cycle Feedback Significantly Less Than Thought, Study Suggests

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100127134721.htm

    Paper:

    Ensemble reconstruction constraints on the global carbon cycle sensitivity to climate

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7280/full/nature08769.html

    I haven’t gone through the whole paper, but after reading the reconstructions they use, I’m shocked they actually found that “Our results are incompatibly lower (P < 0.05) than recent pre-industrial empirical estimates of ~40 p.p.m.v. CO2 per °C (refs 6, 7), and correspondingly suggest ~80% less potential amplification of ongoing global warming." The list of reconstructions is a group of some of the most awful reconstructions made in the climate science community:

    Jones199831 (blue 3), Briffa200032 (blue 2), MannJones200333 (blue 1), Moberg200534 (light blue), DArrigo200635 (green), Hegerl200736 (yellow), Frank200737 (orange), Juckes200738 (red), Mann200839 (maroon).

  148. Ralph says:

    >>Ancient shorelines in a tectonically active area like the
    >>Mediterranean have only a very vague relationship to
    >>sea-level since the land moves (up or down) much faster
    >>than the sea level.

    Well, you say that but:

    The Ptolemaic port at Alexandria is only 5 m or so below where it should be, and that may be due to its being built on alluvial sand.

    The Herodian harbour at Caesaria is just under the present sea-level, and that may be due erosion.

    The Roman harbour at Kos is pretty much where I would expect it to be. And E Greece is supposed to be subducting.

    The Roman harbour at Ephesus is perhaps 5m above where it should be.

    The Greek harbour at Pharselas is almost exactly where it should be.

  149. Ken Roberts says:

    It’s amazing how much we have to learn to find out how little we know.

  150. Bruce King says:

    Just one word for this article. BRAVO!!!!

  151. Speller says:

    Here is a vido about a 1200 year old woman’s skull found at sea level in the Maldives.

    http://tinyurl.com/4vnnq5

    The sea level at the Maldives has fallen 20-30 centimeters since the 1970s, and the government of the Maldives knows it.

  152. JimV says:

    Fabulous article! I’ve tried several different methods of making this into a pdf but without success. Is there one available anywhere?

  153. Dodgy Geezer says:

    @Bulldust

    “… What amazes me is this… how exactly did the Micronesians determine that it was Czech Republic’s carbon causing them harm?…”

    The Czech Republic:

    1 – are currently building a power station
    2 – have a legal system which allows you to make nonsensical claims
    3 – are probably getting a grant from the EU, so have money to throw at anything green…

  154. JonesII says:

    R. Craigen (07:56:37) :Funny indeed, but in the USA you have the majority of Saints, Gods and Goddesses of the Anthropogenic Global Warming/Climate Change Vodoo Church and if you add the UK you reach the 99.9%
    The rest of humanity just watches you and waits for what is going to happen. You are a real danger to the whole world…from underpants bombs to cap@trade, we don’t know whether to laugh or to cry at you.
    What did it happend to the Walt Whitman’s America?, is it lost forever?

  155. TA says:

    A fantastic article. I personally really like this kind of article the best, the kind that takes a topic and examines it thoroughly.

  156. Grumbler says:

    “MrLynn (07:54:05) :

    Ken Harvey (03:51:19) :
    Clive – Please explain to me how to save this as a pdf file. Thanks in anticipation.

    On a Mac, using Safari or Camino (don’t know about other browsers), File->Print, then click PDF->Save As PDF.

    For Windows, someone else will have to comment.”

    Windows?
    Use cutepdf
    http://www.cutepdf.com/products/cutepdf/Writer.asp
    cheers David

  157. Henry chance says:

    Erosion
    I joined a yacht club around 1971 on a large fresh water lake. I sailed my small cruising sloop to 2 islands. We would jump on the beach for picnics. By the 80’s I was elected harbormaster. I had access to core of engineer reports and a good sized budget for dredging and shoreline improvements. It took around 20 years for the 2 island to dissappear. Rain and wind erosion did the trick. We have many years of lake elevation reports in our data base. The islands are gone. The oldest charts still show them. As my many boats became larger, I had to watch my depth sounder to avoid grounding. I obtained funding to build detached breakwaters to increase sand deposition.

    Obviously the maldives want some blackmail money. They don’t have the moral ability to sue India and china where cooking is done with charcoal, wood and other stuff and the same is used for heating.

  158. George E. Smith says:

    Wow !

    What a nice informative tutorial for those of us who have never been doomed to live as a beach bum on a coral atoll drinking Mai-Tais.

    Thank you Willis for a most enjoyable and interesting tale of “who done it”.

    Makes me want to retire and get an old Ketch and sail to one of those places to live and watch the Atoll grow.

    And it would seem hard to attack your thesis Willis; if the atoll reef was not regulated by the feedback mechanisms you described, we would expect to find a distribution of coral islands that were a great variety of heights above and below the surface of the ocean; but we don’t; the coral reefs seem to just push their eye brows above the surface, and keep them there as the long term levels rise and fall.

    Thanks Willis.

  159. JonesII says:

    Breaking News!! Due to Anthropogenic Global WarmingRussia’s Largest Dam in Siberia Turns into Huge Iceberg
    http://english.pravda.ru/photo/report/iceberg-5038/1/

  160. George E. Smith says:

    Dare I suggest that Willis’ description of how coral reef atolls survive and regulate themselves at a comfortable level vis-a-vis sea level. seems exactly analagous to the process by which I envision this planet controls and regulates it’s comfortable temperature range. The “living coral” that keeps earth’s temperature right around “sea level” through thick and thin of environmental change, is simply the cloud system. Like the properties of porous coral, and the water seepage; the physical properties of the H2O molecule determine how the cloud system works, and sets the temperature range that persists over eons of geological change.

    Sure, if we play with the parrot fish aka CO2^-1, we may make small changes; but the living cloud system will simply adjust to all of that.

  161. J.Peden says:

    Pamela Gray (06:19:14) :

    I think that all passed their prime folks should be given high priority to spend the rest of their days on atolls.

    Along with a large enough supply of Victory Gin, Medicare and S.S.’s problems solved!

  162. J.Peden says:

    Another wonderful analysis, Willis!

  163. hotrod ( Larry L ) says:

    toyotawhizguy (21:04:07) :

    Persons that take up residence on an atoll are just asking for trouble. Sooner or later they will have to deal with a deadly Tsunami. Eventually, mother nature will take care of the overpopulation problem in one way or another.

    “The Most Important Video You’ll Ever See” (part 1 of 8)

    Prof. Bartelett my physics professor in my freshman year at C.U.
    He gave that exact same lecture in 1968, and it significantly altered my world view.

    Thanks for finding that video lecture series I have wished I could introduce friends to that lecture many times.

    Here are the other lectures on youtube.

    Dr. Bartlett
    Physics professor Emertitus
    CU

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY <— part 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb3JI8F9LQQ <— part 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFyOw9IgtjY <— part 3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQd-VGYX3-E <— part 4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nN5ydw2C8oU <— part 5
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oalwwtlYjE <— part 6
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyseLQVpJEI <— part 7
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoiiVnQadwE <— part 8

    Larry

  164. RayG says:

    O/T A de-lurk to give some help to JimV, maybe. I have just saved as pdf by highlighting the text and pasting it into an OpenOffice new html document and then file->export.

    Many thanks to Willis for his tenacity and my enlightenment.

  165. Gary Hladik says:

    Patrick Davis (03:09:54), and supercritical (02:00:30), the story of “self-inflicted ecocide” on Easter Island looks like just another eco-myth:

    http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/EE%2016-34_Peiser.pdf

    http://www.uri.edu/artsci/ecn/starkey/ECN398%20-Ecology,%20Economy,%20Society/rapanui_no_ecodisaster.pdf

    (The latter is just an abstract)

  166. Andrew Parker says:

    TonyB (07:30:52) :

    Generation of electricity at remote sites has one basic problem. How do you get the electricity to the consumer? Building the grid can cost more than any economic benefit that is gained from a renewable electricity source.

    Case in point, wasn’t there a plan to put a mammoth undersea power cable from Iceland to the UK back in the ’70’s energy crisis? It didn’t happen, though a quick google search shows that they are resurrecting it again.

    I am all for renewable electricity generation that can be utilized at or near the site of generation.

  167. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Ralph (01:39:35)

    Have sea-levels really been rising remorselessly over the centuries?? By 30cm per century, as that graph above would suggest??

    The ancient Greek port at Phaselis, in western Turkey, has been abandoned for about 1700 years, and yet the port and its bollards for tying up ships is only about 40cm lower in the water than I would expect for a port designed for small wooden boats. The sea-level is currently some 45cm below the harbour walkway, and an extra 40cm might be more comfortable for unloading ships. But certainly no more.

    Remember that there are no tides in the Med, so these do not need to be taken into consideration. And unlike the subducting Greek coast, the coast of Turkey is geologically more stable. There is also no ice-age rebound to worry about.

    The ancient port at Phaselis suggests a sea-level rise of 2.3cm per century, not 30cm per century.

    The satellite record is very short. As with much data in climate science, it’s either good but short, or poor and gap-ridden but of medium length.

    My best guess? Sea level will go up and down, and up and down again, in no apparent order, and wander around some mythical never-achieved equilibrium …

  168. Alan Chappell says:

    Thank you Willis,

  169. RayG says:

    More evidence of sea-level rise – NOT!

    http://www.john-daly.com/deadisle/index.htm

  170. jae says:

    Thanks for another great article, Willis!

  171. Tenuc says:

    Thanks Willis for another good article well presented. Don’t think there’ll be much chance of them winning this one. Looks like the solution to their problems lies in their own hands.

    Status of coral reefs of the southwest and east Pacific: Melanesia and Polynesia
    Jim Maragos

    Human stresses to Pacific reefs
    “The increase in destructive fishing that largely emanates from Asia is also impacting on some parts of Melanesia and Polynesia. Blast and poison (cyanide, bleach) fishing is increasing as good prices for fisheries products in Asia have encouraged locals to enter the export trade, often abandoning traditional management regimes. The introduction of dive masks, fins, and in some places SCUBA gear has facilitated the near extinction of giant clams, sea cucumbers, and trochus off many Pacific reefs. Giant clams are now being bred in the Solomons and re-introduced to many other Pacific reefs. Shark fishing has been conducted on virtually all reefs of the Pacific, including the most remote ones. Around tourist destinations, there has been damage to reefs from boat anchoring, snorkelling, or reef walking, for example Hawaii, French Polynesia and Fiji. The introduction of alien species has the potential to cause impacts to reefs. Many introductions for mariculture are deliberate (seaweeds, oysters, sponges) or to enhance local fisheries (trochus, green snail, fish). In Hawaii, alien mangroves and algae now monopolise inshore reef flats on several islands, and have displaced corals and other reef life. There are occasional threats from ship groundings and oil spills.

  172. JonesII says:

    Why to worry about sea levels, global warming or whatever?, that’s just “catastrophe marketing” from some guys out there who want your money.
    They as we are incapable of doing anything about it, so don’t buy that snake’s oil!, they don’t work, you do, that’s a big ethical difference.

  173. Tenuc says:

    JER0ME (00:51:23) :
    “The same is true of any finite resource. At 7% increase in consumption (and I think China will make that a joke), we use the same amount every decade as has EVER been used before. Once we hit 50% of all the fossil fuels, we have 10 more years and then no more at all. None. That is just at a mere 7% increase a year.

    This seriously call for a really hard look at some kind of resource that is not finite. What’s that word again? Oh yes, “renewable”.

    Now that is an argument I can take on board. Sod CO2!

    Well Jerome, you may be ace at mathematics, but economics is obviously not your strong suit.

    History shows the ‘peak’ anything never pans out that way, as the base assumptions never come true. As oil supply reduces, the cost of oil increases and will eventually reach the point were other forms of energy are cheaper, so consumption then starts to decline. There are many ways to produce energy which are not used because of the high cost and many more will be discovered in the future.

    The intelligent ape Homo sapiens is a very creative animal and the bigger the population the more the chance for creative geniuses to be born. Could be an interesting problem for a maths expert to work out how many more?

  174. Andre Ouellet says:

    Wonderful science lesson. How many quarter units do I receive? Made me think of that bottle of water from Fiji my sister left on my table. What will pumping and selling their aquifers do to the atolls? I doubt we will see this research discussed on fijigreen.com.

  175. Earle Williams says:

    On the various reported sea level rates of increase

    My apologies if I’m repeating something already posted in comments. Someone above pointed to the Leuliette 2004 paper. it should be noted that Leliette adds in some 0.3 mm per year increase to adjust for crustal movement. That is, they are not reporting what the observed seal level rise is. They are reporting what assume the sea level rise would be in the absence of the deflection of oceanic crust. it’s not real. It’s an estimate of what sea level rise would be on an earth that is in complete stasis with respect to crustal movement.

  176. Chris S says:

    Very interesting, I enjoyed reading that a lot:)

  177. TonyB says:

    Andrew Parker

    Yes, getting the power from the off shore device and THEN into the national grid is a huge unresolved problem. It means x miles of underwater cable at huge cost then linking it to transmission lines at some convenient coastal location-the only problem is that there are very few places where those transmission lines exist on the coast.

    The on shore wind industry is starting to recognise that reality, and there are huge and intrusive plans to build transmission lines from often remote and lovely spots where the wind farms are situated, to where it will be needed.

    I suspect there is salami slicing going on with these (very) negative aspects only being admitted to bit by bit.

    Check out ‘wave hub’ in Cornwall where experimental wave devices will plug into a giant underwater socket then link in to a convenient sub station at nearby Hayle. The number of places where that sort of unobtrusive scenario can be played out is very limited indeed (in the UK).

    Tonyb

  178. Charlie A says:

    The head post characterizes the sea level rise as “leveling off”. I think that is overstating the case.

    Like many things in the climate, the accuracy of this statement depends upon the timeframe. Yes, the rate-of-rsie has slowed a bit since 2004. But the whole satellite record runs about 3.2mm/yr, while the historical tide gauge record going back to 1870 is around 1.7mm/yr.

    On the other hand, a closer look at the historical tide gauge records shows significant variation over spans of several decades. The tide gauge record for the 65 year period 1870-1935 the rate of rise is a bit only about 1.1 mm/yr. Then from 1935 to 1960 the rate increase to about 3 mm/yr. So it appears that there have been significant changes in the rate of sea level rise over spans of several decades. Of course, just like the global average temperature has been generally rising since the end of the last ice age, sea levels have also been generally rising.

    I is unwise for either sceptics or AGW alarmists to unduly focus on the changes of just a few years, or even changes over just a few decades.

    The chart at http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/index.html IMO give a good perspective of both the historical tide gauge record and the much shorter satellite record.

  179. Kasmir says:

    Replies to various commenters. I’ve been involved in mariculture of coral for almost 20 years, so I know a bit about the subject.

    “One thing I have noticed is that damage to coral reefs in this area gets worse the closer you are to mainland Australia. The close in reefs are in fairly poor condition. The dive sites a little further out really arent in bad condition and the reefs like Osprey which are up to 200km off the mainland I would describe as pretty much pristine and I have plenty of video footage to back this up.

    I’m not a scientist but this raises some questions for me and makes me think that most of the reef damage closer in is probably related to agricultural run off and to some extent tourism (large amounts of inexperienced divers and boat traffic can play havoc with a reef).”

    Absolutely correct, agricultural runoff is dangerous to inshore reef corals. The principal mechanism is overfertilization which causes macro algae to overgrow to the coral and kill it.

    “So 14.5-22 meters (45-70 feet) of coral has accumulated in about 10,000 years, and the reef (if left in peace) is capable of keeping up with a sea-level rise of more than 15 mm/yr, i. e. five times the current rate, or equivalent to at least 1.35 meters (4.5 feet) to 2100.”

    The Eniwetok reef has deposited over a kilometer of limestone on top of the now submerged seamount. The principal reef building stony corals such as Acropora, Montipora, and Porites can grow at 150 mm/yr. Reefs are in no danger of drowning from sea level rise. On the contrary, you might think of a coral reef as almost pressing against the surface layer as it attempts to grow towards the sun.

    “Not quite true in the long run. Sooner or later the corals always lose out to sea-level rise. There are no really old atolls, geologically speaking. As the volcanic islands move away from the spreading ridges and hotspots where they are created yhe seabottom they stand on gradually subsides and the “high” islands become “low” and ultimately change to atolls which for a while keep up with subsidence but finally become submarine reefs and ultimately seamounts (a. k. a. guyots). The whole process takes several million years, and is beautifully illustrated by the Hawaii island chain, from Big Island (active volcanoes) through the “high” islands getting ever lower to the west and turning into atolls, and ultimately to seamounts west of Midway. Also there is a new island building SE of Big Island (Loihi seamount) which is now less than 1000 meters below sea level and will very likely “surface” within a few thousand years.”

    Keep in mind that even at current temperatures, the Hawaiian chain is the far northern range limit of reef building coral. Kure/Midway are the highest latitude coral reefs in the world. The limited coral diversity of the Hawaiian reefs reflects this. The Hawaiian seamount chain extends to the northwest, i.e. to still higher latitudes. It’s not surprising that atolls failed in those latitudes to form or keep up with the sea level rises coming out of the glacial periods when temperatures were still colder in those latitudes.

  180. Charlie A says:

    If we do assume that the global sea level is rising, and perhaps accelerating in rate-of-rise, does it matter?

    Some wise climatologists have pointed out that normal year-to-year variation of climate in any given location is much larger than any overall trend due to global warming. So global warming is indetectable in the climate record an any given location. Only when looking at averages over many, many locations does the global warming become detectable.

    Sea level rise appears to be similar in that contrary to what might seem to be common sense, the global sea level varies significantly from place to place, due to things such as varying barometric pressure and changes in ocean currents. In addition, the local land level at any given spot is subject to signfiicant change. All of these changes tend to hide the effect of any global average sea level change.

    Willis has pointed out how atolls automatically respond to changing sea levels. Human civilization has also gradually changed and adapted to changing sea levels. We survived the changes in sea level over the last couple hundred years with essentially nobody noticing. In the few places where it is a big issue, such as Venice, the problem is usually land subsidence, not changes in the sea level itself.

  181. latitude says:

    I always wondered how sea level could rise in one place in the ocean, and a few hundred miles over, not rise at all.

    You have to laugh at all the papers written about how sea level rise has affected New Orleans – which is sitting on the edge of a plate and the land is sinking!

  182. TonyB says:

    Charlie A

    AS I posted earlier the sea level history is nonsensical and is based on interpolation and extrapolation of a very tiny number of unrepresentative tidal gauges. Chapter 5 in AR4 -particularly the charts-describe what manipluation has been going on.

    tonyb

  183. Gary Pearse says:

    latitude (12:37:58) :

    “You have to laugh at all the papers written about how sea level rise has effected New Orleans – which is sitting on the edge of a plate and the land is sinking”

    The flooding of deltas needs a paper like Willis’s – there has been so much dreck about the sinking Ganges Delta- particulary from BBC reports. It’s apparently not as widely known as it should be that delta’s, too, rise with rise in sea level. The Mississippi Delta is about 130m thick above basal gravels – approximately the amount of sea level rise since the lows of the last ice age. The mechanism: – when sea level rises and floods up river, the river hits the still water of the sea earlier and drops its sediment thus building up the delta to match the sea level rise. Like the atoll, the delta responds to sea level rise to preserve itself – indeed it gets eroded away when sea level drops.

  184. Vincent Gray says:

    I remain somewhat suspicious of Topex/Poseidon, Jason etc. They had tremendous problems of calibration at the beginning and it is unclear how much of the ocean they cover,or even if it is possible to decide where the boundaries of “ocean” are.

    What matters is the sea level in the vicinity of land surfaces and these measurements are subject to many uncertainties, particularly upwards biases. You have to ask which sea level do you want to know. What is important is the frequency that the sea intrudes into the land at various important places. Tide gauge measurements presumably do show the highest level, but they depend on what sort of equipment you use. I argue that severe storms tend to churn up the water near the gauge and give a spurious low figure for the average level. This gets used as an argument that all subsequent measurements show a rise.

    This is yet another example in climate science where you never see the actual measurements, which would consist of daily fluctuations. These get averaged out with various levels of inaccuracy to give monthly records. But I am unclear that you ever get to see these, because they need to be “corrected” for isostasy, geological movement of many coastlines which woukl show some uncorrected data as inevitably rising and others inevitably falling. John Daly showed that these corrections were based on a small sample of mainly Northern Hemisphere examples and he questioned whather they could be applied everywhere.

    Tide-gauge equpment gets a battering from the sea and it is difficilt to stop it from being forced down. When destroyed how can you restore it at the same level?. The recent introdiction of GPS equipment helps to solve this and I attribute the levelling off of many tide-gauge records to this alone. Then, most land surfaces are prone to subsidence from removal of minerals or water and from the weight of buildings. I am unaware that any “correction” has ever been made for this.

    Finally, the most technologically sophisticated tide-gauge measurement project was carried out by the Australians on 12 Pacific islands from 1991 and, if you take into account what I say (which their authors do not) they show no sea level rise since then, particularly after GPS equipment was installed in 2000. I therefore argue that sea level, as measured close to land, where it actually matters, may not be rising at all..

  185. Scaryoldcortina says:

    Just want to add my thanks for a wonderful, readable article. Really warmed me up (despite the cold weather here)

    And to add that File>Print>Print as PDF works in firefox too ;)

  186. vigilantfish says:

    Willis,

    Thanks for an extremely enlightening article. I knew most of the science of coral atolls already, but was not aware of the role of parrotfish or the effective remedial measures that would solve the problems created by recent human land-use and dredging practices. This deserves to be published in the MSM – in a worthy newspaper like the National Post, to educate and deprogram the general public and hopefully policy wonks and politicians.

  187. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Vincent Gray (14:09:26) – As always, Vincent, good to hear from you. For those who do not recognize the name, Vincent started the New Zealand Climate Coalition, and is a well-known author in the field.

    I remain somewhat suspicious of Topex/Poseidon, Jason etc. They had tremendous problems of calibration at the beginning and it is unclear how much of the ocean they cover,or even if it is possible to decide where the boundaries of “ocean” are.

    What you say is true. However, what I used the data for was to show, not the absolute value, but the change in the value of the trend. I used it only to highlight the fact that sea level rise is not accelerating, it is decelerating.

    What matters is the sea level in the vicinity of land surfaces and these measurements are subject to many uncertainties, particularly upwards biases. You have to ask which sea level do you want to know. What is important is the frequency that the sea intrudes into the land at various important places. Tide gauge measurements presumably do show the highest level, but they depend on what sort of equipment you use. I argue that severe storms tend to churn up the water near the gauge and give a spurious low figure for the average level. This gets used as an argument that all subsequent measurements show a rise.

    I fear I lost you here. Whether the surface is “churned up” or not, the average level should stay the same, ceteris paribus. What am I missing here?

    This is yet another example in climate science where you never see the actual measurements, which would consist of daily fluctuations. These get averaged out with various levels of inaccuracy to give monthly records. But I am unclear that you ever get to see these, because they need to be “corrected” for isostasy, geological movement of many coastlines which woukl show some uncorrected data as inevitably rising and others inevitably falling. John Daly showed that these corrections were based on a small sample of mainly Northern Hemisphere examples and he questioned whather they could be applied everywhere.

    Tide-gauge equpment gets a battering from the sea and it is difficilt to stop it from being forced down. When destroyed how can you restore it at the same level?. The recent introdiction of GPS equipment helps to solve this and I attribute the levelling off of many tide-gauge records to this alone. Then, most land surfaces are prone to subsidence from removal of minerals or water and from the weight of buildings. I am unaware that any “correction” has ever been made for this.

    Restoring it to the same level is easy. I’ve seen the gauge here in Honiara. If it gets damaged, it can just be re-installed into the same boltholes into the concrete on the side of the main wharf …

    In the long run, GPS is the answer to these problems. As you point out, for many years these adjustments were done using heuristic formulas with little factual underpinning. However, the advent of GPS allows very accurate measurement of vertical ground movement.

    Finally, the most technologically sophisticated tide-gauge measurement project was carried out by the Australians on 12 Pacific islands from 1991 and, if you take into account what I say (which their authors do not) they show no sea level rise since then, particularly after GPS equipment was installed in 2000. I therefore argue that sea level, as measured close to land, where it actually matters, may not be rising at all.

    This is called the SEAFRAME project, which I mentioned above. They do take into account local ground subsidence (change of the height of the tidal station versus local landmarks. From the SEAFRAME document I cited above:

    Substantial subsidence of the tide gauge at Samoa is occurring at a rate of -1.0 mm/year. Subsidence is also occurring at Marshall Islands. The tide gauges at Cook Islands and Fiji are rising with respect to the tide gauge benchmark. The rates of vertical tide gauge movement are used to correct observed rates of relative sea level change.

    Unfortunately, the GPS stations were all installed around 2001 – 2003, so there is not enough data yet to give the absolute values. From the same SEAFRAME document:

    Continuous Geographical Positioning Systems (CGPS) stations have also been installed on all of the islands where SEAFRAME gauges are located. The purpose of the CGPS program is to close the final link in establishing vertical datum control – that is, to determine whether the island or coastal region as a whole is moving vertically with respect to the International Terrestrial Reference Frame. Early estimates of the rates of vertical movement are being calculated by Geosciences Australia but continued monitoring is necessary before meaningful results emerge from the CGPS time series data. The latest CGPS information for the project is available from Geosciences Australia at http://www.ga.gov.au/geodesy/slm/spslcmp/

    Preliminary results of the GPS project are available at this link (1.1 Mb PDF), but as the website says, “It is important to note that the length of the time series is too short for reliable vertical station velocity estimation.”

    I also don’t understand where you are getting the claim that the SEAFRAME project shows no sea level rise in the Pacific since 2000. Take a look at the SEAFRAME document I cited above for Tuvalu, it clearly shows a rise since 2000. Do you have a citation for your claim?

    My best to you, Vincent, keep fighting the good fight,

    w.

  188. ► Reality Check says:

    30/03/2002

    GLOBAL WARMING NOT SINKING TUVALU –
    – BUT MAYBE ITS OWN PEOPLE ARE
    http://www.tuvaluislands.com/news/archived/2002/2002-03-30.htm

    International environmentalists might have it wrong — global warming is not drowning the Pacific atoll nation of Tuvalu beneath a rising Pacific.

    Its fate may be much more prosaic and all local: severe over-population, profound pollution and an unusual World War II legacy.

    Experts even believe that if the threatening El Niño event occurs in the next six months, the sea level around Tuvalu will actually fall a by a dramatic 30 centimeters (11 inches). It did during the last big El Niño.

    “The historical record shows no visual evidence of any acceleration in sea level trends,” Australia’s National Tidal Facility (NTF) said in a statement about Tuvalu this week.

    Contrast that hard science with the emotional statement of Tuvalu Prime Minister Koloa Talake at last month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting where he announced Tuvalu, its neighbor Kiribati and the Maldives are planning legal action against Western nations that they say are creating the global warming that is rising the Pacific’s level.

  189. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Reality Check, thanks for an interesting article I had never seen, and from 2002, no less. I loved this part:

    But when one visiting journalist pointed to the severe pollution, over-population and manmade changes to the islets, Kiribati President Teburoro Tito had the reporter declared an “undesirable immigrant.”

    I can understand that, I’ve received my own share of hate mail from Tuvalu myself …

  190. Cement a friend says:

    Willis, I note your reply to Vincent Gray.
    Please read my post. The document you have on Tuvalu was prepared by an NGO it is likely to be biased towards providing aid.
    The project is not called Seaframe but SPSLCMP (South Pacific sea level and climate monitoring project) but they do use Seaframe instruments.
    The Summary Report Jul08-jun09 issued by the National Tidal Centre of BOM is worth downloading because it has all the climate data back to 1991 (first phase of project 1991 to 2000) and some very good explanations about ENSO cycles, El Nino, earthquake effects etc.
    If you can’t find it or do not have the time send me an email and I will attach it to my reply.
    I am sure that you wiil be interested in the report. If you look at figure 10 (Monthly mean sea levels to june 2009) you will find that there has been no increase in sea levels at Tuvalu since 1999. That also applies for most of the other islands. In 2008 there was a reduction in sea levels.

  191. Vincent Gray says:

    Dear Willis

    Good to meet somebody who has been there.

    It is impossible to provide a “citation” to the literature as they have carefully stopped this from happening. The only source is the Australian BoM website and I suspect that they are prevented from publishing in the literature or revealing the names of the authors.
    Until recently they have concealed the actual data which has obly been published in the individual island reports. My paper at

    http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/spsl3.pdf

    was the first to include all the sites and discuss them in detail. I argue that after they installed GPS there is no signiuficant change, and that the supposed “trends” are based on including the early teething troubles and the effects of the 1998 cyclone..I insist that the cyclone causes turbulence in the base of the equipment and a spurious low reading

    I would welcome your comments.

    The latest Monthly Report at

    http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/projects/spslcmp/spslcmp.shtml

    does have a graph with all the results and it is obvious that there is little opr no change for any of them. I am surprised that you have been able to find a “trend” for Tuvalu. Are you prepared to give 95% confidence limits for your figure?

  192. Vincent Gray says:

    The Summary Repoorts of the Australian Project are deliberately misleading as they only give “TRENDS” and conceal actual records. The latest Monthly Report Givews both, but these trens are based on the nistaken assumption that all the points are equivalent. Since 2000 the trend is mighty near zero.

    Mitchell’s name is given, but who are the authors?

  193. George E. Smith says:

    As to local sea level rises; in mid 2006, a British/Dutch team using a European polar orbit satellite, reported on ten years of observations of the sea level rise of the Arctic Ocean.

    Their resulting measurments; which they say they have very high confidence in was that the Arctic ocean sea level over that decade, had been rising at a rate of -2 mm per year. This can alternatively be interpreted as an actual sea level fall of 2 mm per year.

    As I said; they had high confidence in their observed results; but had no idea why that should be so; so they were waiting for the theoreticians to catch up, and explain their observations.

    Actually, that had alread occurred about two years earlier in mid 2004, but it took till Jan 2005 for Physics Today, to publish my letetr in which I predicted that in fact sea levels would fall, as the floating sea ice melted.

    My assertian was pooh-poohed by some notable AGW climatologists; one of whom simply asserted, that when you heated the oceans, the sea water expanded, so the water level rose.

    The astute reader will instantly discern the connection between his warming of the oceans, and my argument as to the melting of the floating sea ice; come now, you have had plenty of time to see the connection.

    You see, when the floating sea ice melts, most of that sea ice is actually under the ocean water, so the heat required to melt the ice; about 80 calories per gram, comes not from the atmosphere, or any sunlight, but directly from the sea water in contact with the ice.

    So you could cool one gram of se water, by 80 deg C, or you could cool 80 grams, bu 1.0 deg C, or even 800 grams by 0.1 deg C; but basically, the melting of all that floating sea ice results in the lowering of the temperature, of an astronomical amount of sea water. Add to that the trivia information, that sea water with more than 2.47% salinity, has no maximum density before its freezing point. Since most sea water is about 3.5% salinity, that means that sea water always has a positive temperature coefficient of expansion, down to its freezing point, and therefore the cooling of all that ocean water increases the density, and lowers the sea level due to contraction.

    iot is left as an exercise to the astute reader to show, that if one assumes that the TC of the ocean water is quite constant at those temperatures (probably isn’t); that the shrinkage of the surface level is pretty much independent of how much water cools; so you don’t have to know anything about the temperature gradient as the ice melts. If you cool a double height water column by only half the temperature drop, the total height contraction stays the same; but note my caveat, that the TC is likely not ecxactly constant over thsoe temperature ranges; and no I don’t have the foggiest idea what it actually is.

    Of course a key result of my assertion, and the British/Dutch research team’s observations, is that it really did establish, that over those ten years of their observations from about 1996-2006, the total ice floating in the arctic ocean was in fact diminishing, asd the alarmists were happy to point out; well until the fall 2007 minimum anyway.

    So Nyet, on sea levels rising everywhere, sometimes, some places, it goes the other way.

    And if someone asserts that simple physics requires the sea to shrink, when floating sea ice melts; don’t respond with an inane comment like; everyone knows if you heat the ocean water it expands. What does that have to do with the floating se ice melting ?

  194. Smokey says:

    Excellent article as always, Willis.

    I’m familiar with the water problems from reading a really entertaining travelogue called The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost.

    Maarten and his wife were sent to Tarawa in the island nation of Kiribati [just across the equator from Tuvalu - a different country]. They describe a lot of the same problems, like the disappearing water lens. Vegetables can’t be grown in most places due to salt water intrusion.

    Overpopulation is the central problem. Some of the 33 atolls that comprise the country are less than 200 yards across, and have thousands of people living on them. Pollution is very bad.

    The governments of all the South Sea island nations [Tuvalu, Fiji, Tonga, etc.] have learned to play the global warming/rising sea level game. If it weren’t for international aid, Kiribati wouldn’t survive. Its last worthwhile export was phosphate [seabird guano]. When the guano islands gave out, the UK wisely cut them loose granted them independence. There are probably few worse places to live.

    With any luck the sea level will rise fast, and the people will have to be relocated to Australia or somewhere else above high tide. But since the sea level isn’t rising faster than the coral grows, they appear to be SOL.

  195. cement a friend says:

    Willis and Vincent,
    The latest (to Jun2009) South Pacific report is here http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/projects/spslcmp/reports_6mths.shtml
    It is worth downloading for anyone interested in climate cycles.

  196. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Vincent Gray (16:22:59), you say:

    The latest Monthly Report at

    http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/projects/spslcmp/spslcmp.shtml

    does have a graph with all the results and it is obvious that there is little opr no change for any of them. I am surprised that you have been able to find a “trend” for Tuvalu. Are you prepared to give 95% confidence limits for your figure?

    I believe the document you refer to is THE SOUTH PACIFIC SEA LEVEL & CLIMATE MONITORING PROJECT MONTHLY DATA REPORT NO. 174 DECEMBER 2009. It is available here.

    On page 4 of that report, it gives the currently measured rate of sea level rise for Tuvalu as 5.1mm/yr. Per the Tuvalu report I cited above, the 95% CI for this is on the order of ±4 mm/yr. This is because we only have 17 years of data, far too short for good accuracy.

    What am I missing here? I get the feeling we’re not talking about the same thing, I just can’t figure out where …

    w.

  197. Willis Eschenbach says:

    George E. Smith (17:59:55) : edit

    As to local sea level rises; in mid 2006, a British/Dutch team using a European polar orbit satellite, reported on ten years of observations of the sea level rise of the Arctic Ocean.

    Their resulting measurments; which they say they have very high confidence in was that the Arctic ocean sea level over that decade, had been rising at a rate of -2 mm per year. This can alternatively be interpreted as an actual sea level fall of 2 mm per year.

    Citation? I’m not going to waste my time trying to guess which study you are referring to.

    w.

  198. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Cement a friend (03:07:47)


    A better report by the Aust. Govt. BOM is here http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography
    Called South Pacific Sea level and climate Monitoring Project, Sea Level summary report July20089-June2009. There are some interesting details about ENSO and PDO. You will see a much more detailed graph on Tuvalu which shows no increase in sea level since 1998. It is good see that in some parts of BOM there are still objective scientists.
    regards

    I couldn’t find the “detailed graph on Tuvalu” which showed no sea level rise since 1998. Page number? Figure number?

    Let me use this as a call for better citation habits. It drives me mad when someone says “it’s shown in the IPCC report” … well yeah, but where? Please let us know what figure or what page and what paragraph you are talking about.

  199. Pamela Gray says:

    Would it not be easier to just determine where these atolls lie along tectonic plate edges in order to determine if their ultimate fate is to rise or fall below the surrounding sea level? If the old volcanic mountain an atoll sits upon is about to sink beneath the encroaching plate, the future is a done deal. Move to another island. By the way, love the stretch marks on ol’ mother nature’s skin beneath the Atlantic ocean.

  200. Craigo says:

    Willis – great post and one that succinctly describes the process that was once taught in physical geography at school. Little wonder that Australian sceptics are described as “well funded unemployed” – they are old enough to have been educated before post modernism encouraged critical thinking without basic principles. Introducing a few lessons about parrot fish and symbiosis would be a good start. btw does coral “sand” have a lower density than rock formed beach sand? I was pondering that if so, it may be more susceptible to erosion.

    Evan – your mod comment “follow the money” pretty much sums up the island style / third world attitude to exploiting the financial opportunities/benefits presented by a pro-AGW view.

    Now we need is a post on “floating river deltas” to explain that a billion people won’t drown at 3mm/year of sea level rise whilst rivers keep flowing to the sea but living on a flood plain does pose risks such as say maybe …. flooding.

    As my final comment – many Pacific Islanders enjoy the comforts of home in New Zealand and Australia where they make a valuable contibution to the community (and the odd great sportsperson) and also provide financial support to extended family back on the islands.

  201. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Craigo (20:10:47)

    … btw does coral “sand” have a lower density than rock formed beach sand? I was pondering that if so, it may be more susceptible to erosion.

    Good question, I hadn’t thought about that. Coral sand is something like 95% calcium carbonate, density ~2.7. Beach sand is generally quartz, density ~2.6. So I don’t think the density makes a difference.

    Coral sand, however, is very much softer than quartz (3 on the Mohs scale, compared to 7 for quartz). As a result, the grains tend to be more rounded than the angular grains of quartz sand. I suspect this round shape may make them more susceptible to erosion, but I don’t know that.

    There’s some interesting photos here.

  202. Pamela Gray says:

    Willis, you have reminded me of the ceramic strike plates we used in college geology class. Loved that class. Been a rock hound ever since.

  203. Pamela Gray says:

    I have plowed (well, I sat on the cat while my boyfriend plowed) what is called sugar snow. This snow is cold, hard, and in the shape of little round seed beads. It is just like trying to plow dry sugar. As soon as the cat plowed the snow off to the side, it fell right back into the roadbed. When rain hits it, there is no slick surface for drainage. The rain works right through it. So yes, I would imagine that rounded sand would erode much faster as there is no way for the sand to matrix together, forming a more resistant interconnected surface against rain and wind erosion.

  204. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Craigo (20:10:47), you also say:

    …Evan – your mod comment “follow the money” pretty much sums up the island style / third world attitude to exploiting the financial opportunities/benefits presented by a pro-AGW view.

    referring to the comment:

    Baike (21:22:19) : edit
    Fascinating read.

    If your post is accurate, how can it be that the leaders of these atolls can make claims that they’re sinking due to sea level rises and be taken seriously on the international stage (regardless of the cause of those sea level rises)?

    Is the culture of fear so great that one is cautious of even correcting the most obvious of mistakes? Or is ignorance/laziness the dominating factor?

    [REPLY - Follow the money! ~ Evan]

    While I agree that the islanders are looking to get some easy money, I don’t fault them for that in the least. If you live on a strip of sand that is 500 metres long, 15 metres wide, and one metre tall, and your island gets visited by a boat every couple months, the money making opportunities are … well … somewhat scarce.

    So I’d likely do the same, nothing to lose. Why not sue the Czechs, especially if someone else is picking up the court costs? Where’s the downside?

    [REPLY - Hmm. Maybe we could find a more efficient means of transfer? Cargo cults are cheaper than carbon cults. ~ Evan]

  205. Cement a friend says:

    Sorry Willis,
    I am am not used to blogs
    Here is what I said above
    “Willis and Vincent,
    The latest (to Jun2009) South Pacific report is here http://www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/projects/spslcmp/reports_6mths.shtml
    It is worth downloading for anyone interested in climate cycles.” The report is 37pages and over 3MB to download
    I earlier said it was graph 10, and its on Page 21
    I tried to copy part of the graph a couple of ways including the Printkey program. How does one get a small picture into the comment? I know nothing about uploading and I am still thinking about a website.
    In 1998 there was a huge drop in sea level of about 0.4m for almost the whole year. Maybe this is affecting the supposed trend. Maybe you could explain it.
    Nesting like Climate Audit could make it easier to follow a thread.

  206. Willis Eschenbach says:

    [REPLY - Hmm. Maybe we could find a more efficient means of transfer? Cargo cults are cheaper than carbon cults. ~ Evan]

    The myth of drowning atolls clearly shows the myriad problems of blaming everything on CO2. The main issue is that if we say “it’s CO2″, it stops us from finding or working on the real problems.

    Another ever present issue is certainly “cui bono”. Or follow the money, as you say.

    The third problem is the loss of credibility of the environmental movement. This is not some island-hatched scheme. From the Sierra Club’s initial articles to the Greenpeace backing of the whole Tuvalu campaign, it’s all happened through the intervention of once-respected environmental organizations. The worst is that it sets the environmental movement up once again as the “boy who cried wolf”.

    Following on the Club of Rome and Paul Ehrlich’s “population bomb” and other doomsday claims, this is not good news. There’s still a host of real environmental issues that need addressing.

  207. tallbloke says:

    Great post, thanks Willis. What are housing prices like down there. I’ve had enough of cold rainy England!

  208. Baa Humbug says:

    No Sea Level Threat to Maldives
    (11 Jan 04)

    In a recent paper, Nils-Axel Mörner et al report on a new study of sea levels in the Maldives, a coral atoll group in the centre of the Indian Ocean and inhabited for the last 1,500 years.

    They found that sea levels over the last few thousand years has at times been higher than those of today with no recent tendency toward sea level rise. See past sea level history:

    The above from the late John L Dalys site here

    How do I post a graph? assuming it’s possible

  209. Tenuc says:

    tallbloke (00:16:42) :
    “Great post, thanks Willis. What are housing prices like down there. I’ve had enough of cold rainy England!”

    Good idea TB. I too am fed up of grey sky’s, cold, snow and rain. I’m off to southern Spain in a few weeks time to remind myself what the sun looks like!

  210. Baa Humbug says:

    Here is a sample of sea level as observed 1841-2004

    The 1841 sea level benchmark (centre) on the `Isle of the Dead’, Tasmania. According to Antarctic explorer, Capt. Sir James Clark Ross, it marked mean sea level in 1841. Photo taken at low tide 20 Jan 2004.
    Mark is 50 cm across; tidal range is less than a metre. © John L. Daly.

    link

  211. Baa Humbug says:

    The Maldives have been at it for a while now.

    Maldives Joins the Frenzy (19 May 03)

    For several years, the government of Tuvalu, egged on by GreenPeace activists, has led the international campaign over the `plight’ of coral island nations like Tuvalu, warning they could sink below the waves due to `global warming’.

    As shown further below on this page, that claim is both nonsense and spurious – there has been no rising seas at Tuvalu, just a rise in political noise.

    Now the Maldives has joined in. They too claim to be in danger of rising seas. Yet, incredibly, their President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has admitted –

    “We are monitoring sea level rises in the Maldives and so far there is no established proof that there is a rise,” he said. “But that does not mean that it is not happening.”

    So, he cannot find any evidence of sea level rise in his own home turf, but still thinks it might be happening anyway.

    And he expects public policy in major economies to be determined by what he thinks but for which he has no evidence?

    Gayoom claims to be taking the advice of `scientists’, but the President of INQUA, the international commission with expertise in sea level, Nils-Axel- Mörner, had this to say recently –

    “It has been popular to threaten small islands and low-lying coasts with scenarios of disastrous future flooding. The Maldives has been the most utilised target. We have undertaken a careful analysis of actual sea level changes in the Maldives. No rise has been recorded either in the present or the past centuries. Instead we have documented a significant sea level fall in the last 20-30 years.” – Nils-Axel Mörner (President of INQUA)

    Could it be that the real agenda for the Maldives is the same as that of Tuvalu – money compensation? Compensation for an imagined loss that has not happened, is not happening, but `might’ happen sometime in the unspecified future?

    The above from here J L Daly site

  212. kwik says:

    Niels Axel Moerner was the president (1999-2003)
    of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and
    Coastal Evolution, and leader of the Maldives Sea Level Project.

    Niels Axel Moerner on sea-level:

    http://www.climatechangefacts.info/ClimateChangeDocuments/NilsAxelMornerinterview.pdf

  213. Phillep Harding says:

    1) Stone fences can act like snow fences and provide a resting place for wind blown sand.

    2) As has been found in Turkey, stones on the ground can also reduce water evaporation from the surface.

    3) Electro deposition of calcium can be used to create shaped “rocks” for special purposes. The size limits are larger than the local ability to move the created artifact.

  214. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Phillep Harding (12:21:32) : edit

    1) Stone fences can act like snow fences and provide a resting place for wind blown sand.

    2) As has been found in Turkey, stones on the ground can also reduce water evaporation from the surface.

    3) Electro deposition of calcium can be used to create shaped “rocks” for special purposes. The size limits are larger than the local ability to move the created artifact.

    All the kind of things that the folks on atolls need to protect their atolls. Low cost, and made out of local materials.

    Regarding your third comment, the use of electricity to make artificial coral reefs has received wide attention, but I don’t think it has been used yet to create the type of underwater “speed bumps” needed to expand an atoll. It would be an excellent solution in combination with the gabbions I discussed above. There’s a description at the bottom of the page here.

    Thanks,

    w.

  215. Vincent Gray says:

    Willis. my Pacific Island Report at
    http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/spsl3.pdf
    is fully referenced. The Tuvalu results are Figure 13 on page 15. It is copied from the official Tuvalu report at
    http://www.bom.gov.au/ntc/IDO60033/IDO60033.2007.pdf
    where it is Figure 15 on page 27.
    There is no change in sea level on Tuvalu.

    I dislike the use of :’linear trends” as a way of studying climate data. The data are never uniform, they possess fluctuations on different scales which are deliberately concealed a trealistic estimate of the accuracy of such trends is never provided.and their values always depend on arbitrary choice of beginning and end points

  216. Vincent Gray says:

    The Latest Pacific Island Report is December 2009 at http://www.bom.gov.au/ntc/IDO60101/IDO60101.200912.pdf

    No change at Tuvalu since 1998, see Figure 11

  217. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Vincent Gray (16:20:24)

    Willis. my Pacific Island Report at
    http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/spsl3.pdf
    is fully referenced. The Tuvalu results are Figure 13 on page 15. It is copied from the official Tuvalu report at
    http://www.bom.gov.au/ntc/IDO60033/IDO60033.2007.pdf
    where it is Figure 15 on page 27.
    There is no change in sea level on Tuvalu.

    I dislike the use of :’linear trends” as a way of studying climate data. The data are never uniform, they possess fluctuations on different scales which are deliberately concealed a trealistic estimate of the accuracy of such trends is never provided.and their values always depend on arbitrary choice of beginning and end points

    Vincent, I agree about linear trend lines, which is why I generally only use them in conjunction with gaussian averages as in Figure 1 above.

    However, I disagree that Fig. 15, p. 27 of the Tuvalu report, entitled “Monthly sea level at Funafuti SEAFRAME gauge”, shows that there is no sea level rise. You simply cannot decide that by looking at the raw data.

    It would seem simple to determine whether the mean sea level (MSL), the average height of the sea, is rising or falling in Tuvalu. However, the measurement of the MSL at any given location is complicated by a number of factors:

    1. Tidal oscillations, caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun, cause changes in sea level with a major period from 12 to 24 hours, but which also have longer periods ranging up to half a century or more.

    2. Barometric pressure changes from weather systems depress or increase sea levels, with time scales from hours to weeks.

    3. The “El Nino” effect, on a time scale of years, strongly affects sea levels in the South Pacific.

    4. Winds can cause the oceans to pile up against the land or push them away from the shore, on the time scale of hours to weeks.

    5 Seasonal barometric variations have the same effect as those due to weather systems, on the scale of months.

    6. The “sloshing” of tides, especially in enclosed basins such as atoll lagoons, can increase or decrease sea levels on a time scale of days to years, depending on the size of the basin.

    7. Changes in seawater temperature, on a time scale from years to centuries, can increase or decrease sea levels.

    8. The land on which the tide gauge is situated may be rising or falling.

    Because of these difficulties, a very long record of tides is necessary to determine whether the MSL is rising or falling at a given location. Douglas (2001) argues that a record of 50 to 80 years is required to give a meaningful estimate of the change in sea level. This estimate is supported by the results of the “asymptotic analysis” method of Mitchell et. al. (2000), which show a +/- 1 mm error after 50 to 60 years.

    Such an “asymptotic analysis” is actually done by the people in the work you cited. This method is shown in Fig.4, p.9 of the report you cited.Their conclusion is as follows:

    The sea level trend to date is +6.0 mm/year but the magnitude of the trend continues to vary widely from month to month as the data set grows. Accounting for the precise levelling results and inverted barometric pressure effect, the trend is +5.3 mm/year. A nearby gauge, with a longer record but less precision and datum control, shows a trend of +0.9 mm/year.

    So I fear that I must disagree with you. The sea level in Tuvalu is indeed rising overall, albeit with a very wide CI. Of course, because of the tidal cycles, any given short timespan may show a decrease. However, this is meaningless in determining whether the sea level is rising in the longer term.

    All the best,

    w.

  218. Fascinating article Willis, as always. I think it would be a very simple matter to debunk the hysterical warmists if one could provide hard evidence that the atolls have survived sea level rises far greater than the IPCC projects during the end of the last ice age; how old are the atolls anyway?

    You make a good point about the population carrying capacity of an atoll which is what a true environmentalist would be pointing out rather than the false blaming of CO2 which the watermelon groups do.

    As I was reading your article it suddenly occurred to me that the way to deal with the effect of humans on atolls would be to create floating structures around the atoll and move the majority of the population there. Of course Wesley Bruce beat me to it and the seasteading site is very interesting and hopefully I’ll see some major progress in this area during my lifetime. If we’re going to spend tens of billions to alleviate the self-induced plight of the atoll dwellers, I’d much rather have the money spent on research into huge floating structures which could eventually become artificial islands and lead to humans being able to live anywhere on the ocean-covered part of the planet.

    This is in line with Bjorn Lomberg’s calculations in The Skeptical Environmentalist. Even if the worst case IPCC scenarios of sea level rise were to occur it would be far simpler to deal with them by maintaining economic growth at the same rate it is currently occurring in which case we can afford to deal with the worst case future scenarios easily. If we instead follow the deindustrialization path proposed by the warmists, we shrink GDP and would be completely unable to afford to deal with environmental catastrophes.

    Having had experience with Greenpeace types when I lived in Vancouver I find it laughable that they call themselves “ecologists”. The study of ecology requires the understanding of a vast number of feedback loops and lots of mathematics Most of the greenpeace types are basically innumerate and mention the Lotka-Volterra equation to them and one gets blank stares. They seem to be unable to grasp that ecology, like climate constantly changes and there are oscillations, chaotic behavior and, rarely, static behavior. They are technophobes and seek to destroy modern society. If the majority of people became aware of their true goals they’d get the same reception as a convicted pedophile at a daycare center.

  219. Jeff B. says:

    But Progressives have taught islanders their Marxism. Act like victims, pick a target, freeze it, polarize it, and ask for “rich” nations to bail you out. In exchange, their delegations vote as told on NGO panels. A large part of what makes Obama tick, is the island mentality.

  220. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Boris Gimbarzevsky (03:02:52)

    Fascinating article Willis, as always. I think it would be a very simple matter to debunk the hysterical warmists if one could provide hard evidence that the atolls have survived sea level rises far greater than the IPCC projects during the end of the last ice age; how old are the atolls anyway?

    Boris, a good question. Here’s the usual fount of misinformation (Wikipedia) on the subject:

    As an example of how coral reefs have formed on continental shelves, the current living reef structure of the Great Barrier Reef began growing about 20,000 years ago. The sea level was then 120 metres (390 ft) lower than it is today.[8][9] As the sea level rose, the water and the corals encroached on what had been the hills of the coastal plain. By 13,000 years ago the sea level was 60 metres (200 ft) lower than at present, and the hills of the coastal plains were, by then, continental islands. As the sea level rise continued most of the continental islands were submerged. The corals could then overgrow the hills, forming the present cays and reefs. The sea level on the Great Barrier Reef has not changed significantly in the last 6,000 years,[9] and the age of the present living reef structure is estimated to be between 6,000 and 8,000 years.[10] Although the Great Barrier Reef formed along a continental shelf, and not around a volcanic island, the same principles apply as outlined by Darwin’s theory above. The Great Barrier Reef development has stopped at the barrier reef stage, since Australia is not about to submerge. It has formed the world’s largest barrier reef, 300–1000 metres (330-1100 yards) from shore, and 2000 kilometres (1200 miles) long.[11]

    So the Great Barrier Reef has survived what is called the “Holocene trangression”, the huge rise in sea level during the end of the last glacial period.

    Sea level rise during that period was quite large, viz(pdf, Science Magazine, subscription)

    Between 18,000 and 9,000 years ago, the long-term average sea level rise was about 12 mm/year (8, 14); however, the rise may have been up to 20 mm/year during intervals spanning several thousand years (18.19).

    From this it is clear that the existing atolls can sustain anything that warming is likely to throw at them. Even in the extremely unlikely event that the current rate of rise were to triple, that is still less than the reefs have sustained in the past.

  221. Roger Carr says:

    Tenuc (07:54:28) : I’m off to southern Spain in a few weeks time to remind myself what the sun looks like!

    Bad news, Tenuc. I understand the Spanish government has banned the use of the sun for either cosmetic or comfort uses. It may only be harvested for generation of energy.

    p.s. The new solar cell cloaks are quite cool; but it’s hell towing the transmission wires that lead back to the distributing utility everywhere you go…

  222. bob says:

    Ah! @ Roger Carr, if only Nicola Tesla had lived another decade…and realized his hunch about transmitting electricity without wires…

  223. lkrndu22 says:

    Interesting read. And the Bacon quote at the top of the responses.

    Willis’ writing is very clear, but he also frames the inquiry he discusses so narrowly that, of course, he can arrive at exactly the conclusion he prefers.

    But suppose, as at a scientific meeting, the three questions at the top are restated:

    Willis:
    1. Increasing CO2 causes increased sea level rise.

    Variation:
    1. Observed increasing CO2 and sea level rise are parallel changes; what, if any, causal relationship exists between these two observed phenomena?

    Willis:
    2. Sea level rise causes salt water to intrude into the freshwater lens

    Variation:
    2. Sea level rise also raises the elevation (absolute altitude) of the fresh water lens; does this account for the observed salt-water contamination of subsurface fresh water supplies on some atolls?

    Willis:
    3. Sea level rise gravely endangers low-lying coral atolls like Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Maldives. A mere 1 metre rise would see them mostly washed away.

    Variation:
    3. Sea level rise gravely endangers low-lying coral atolls like Tuvalu… A mere 1 meter rise would see them washed away.

    Discussion: Question 1

    The parallel increases in sea levels and atmospheric CO2 don’t have a direct causal relationship, but an indirect one. As CO2 increases and global temperatures with it the loss of Arctic ice drives rising sea levels. So yes, increasing CO2 contributes to sea level rise.

    Willis’ discussion of the historic rates of sea level changes may be beside the point. The trend is up, over all the recorded time period. In spite of global temperatures in the last decade being the highest ever recorded, there has been a slight levelling-off during the 00’s. To uncover cause, it is necessary to examine these factors, that is temperature trends, ice-melt rates, and sea level changes. The correlations among all of these are strongly positive. It would be foolhardy for a scientist to dismiss them.

    Discussion: Question 2

    Willis’ discussion of the hydrogeology of the fresh water lens found on an atoll is lucid and complete, but his conclusions are too narrowly-framed to be useful. The observed changes in groundwater composition on atolls are what drive the impression that salt water has intruded. It has done so, as Willis describes. Because the fresh water lens floats on top of the salt water, the boundary between the two will be raised to a higher elevation with time. A well that previously drew from a zone just above the salt water will begin to produce salt water as the boundary rises. That is the source of the impression that salt water intrudes.

    One very significant effect that Willis fails to discuss is that atoll topography limits the subsurface zone available to contain the fresh water lens. As seen on Willis’ sketch, this zone narrows towards its top side, so that as the lens is lifted by rising sea water below, it necesarily becomes smaller.

    The human and geologic-ecological consequences of that are important; Willis has not given a complete discussion on this point.

    Discussion: Question 3

    The part about a one meter sea level rise leading to the washing away of low-lying islands is a red herring. But it is largely true. The maximum elevation above sea level on Tuvalu is just over 4 meters. A one-meter sea level rise would impact human activity very severely.

    Sea level rise does endanger coral reefs on atolls, especially under the geologic conditions as shown in Willis’ sketch.

    Corals cannot continue building vertically forever; beyond a certain point winds, currents, and related factors limit growth. Nor can corals build up into the air, as Willis’ discussion implies. Polyps are sea-dwellers, not air breathers.

    But there is another factor left out of Willis’ discussion. Rising CO2 goes hand in hand with ocean acidification. The damage to coral reefs is already evident and severe. This occurs both because more acid sea water dissolves calcareous reef materials aggressively, and because the polyps and other species of coral reefs are sensitive to their chemical environment.

    Conclusion:

    Willis’ discussion is interesting, but incomplete. What is missing are elements that, when brought forth, enable a much different picture to emerge.

    So much for Fancis Bacon; it would seem here that Willis is hoist with his own petard.

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