Taiwan sinking: Subsidence or Global Warming Induced Sea Level Rise?

This news story about Taiwan has been making the rounds with the usual alarming news outlets. My view is clearly on subsidence, caused by poor land use practice. See below the Continue Reading line for the easily found reasons.

Rising sea levels threaten Taiwan
File picture of rescuers searching for residents trapped by the rising flood waters sparked by typhoon Morakot in Pingtung, southern Taiwan last year

Excerpts: from AFP via Yahoo News

Rising sea levels threaten Taiwan

TUNGSHIH, Taiwan (AFP) – When worshippers built a temple for the goddess Matsu in south Taiwan 300 years ago, they chose a spot they thought would be at a safe remove from the ocean. They did not count on global warming.

Now, as the island faces rising sea levels, the Tungshih township is forced to set up a new temple nearby, elevated by three metres (10 feet) compared with the original site.

“Right now, the temple is flooded pretty much every year,” said Tsai Chu-wu, the temple’s chief secretary, explaining why the 63-million-dollar project is necessary.

“Once the new temple is completed, we should be able to avoid floods and the threat of the rising sea, at least for many, many years,” he said.

The temple of Matsu, ironically often described as the Goddess of the Sea, is only one example of how global warming is slowly, almost imperceptibly piling pressure on Taiwan.

And unlike the temple, none of these crucial economic establishments can possibly be lifted, leaving them exposed to the elements.

“If the sea levels keep rising, part of Taiwan’s low-lying western part could be submerged,” said Wang Chung-ho, an earth scientist at Taiwan’s top academic body Academia Sinica.

Still, environmentalists consider the risk too high to ignore, and they point out that it is compounded by the overpumping of groundwater both for traditional agriculture and for fish farming.

This has caused the groundwater level to fall and land to subside below sea level in some coastal areas, experts warn.

The greatest extent of seawater encroachment has been estimated to be as far as 8.5 kilometres inland with an affected area of about 104 square kilometres (40 square miles) in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung county, according to a study co-written by Wang.

Once low-lying areas are routinely invaded by sea water, it is very hard to turn back the tide, analysts warned.

In its 2007 assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations said that due to the global warming, the world’s sea level is projected to rise by up to 0.59 metres before the end of this century.

However, Wang was more pessimistic, citing recent findings that greenhouse gas emissions are growing faster than previously believed.

Read the rest of the story here: AFP via Yahoo News


And where is Pingtung County in Taiwain?

Taiwan ROC political division map Pingtung  County.svg

But that is not where the Matsu temple that is the focus of the story is, it is a misdirection. Read on.

Now consider this news story about a hi-speed rail system in Taiwan from China Daily that says:

Safety concerns were raised after according to the Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corp. (THSRC) figures revealed that at its worst, the land at one site along the stretch in Yunlin County has sunk 55 centimeters over the past seven years.

Over-pumping of underground water for irrigation has been blamed for the subsidence, and the Water Resources Agency (WRA) has identified 1,115 wells in the area that need to be sealed to stop the sinking.

Seems pretty clear that subsidence is happening quickly in that county. Here’s a paper studying the Yuanlin area, Changhua County. PDF here. Note the mention of Yunlin County, save that for later.

Using Radar Interferometry to Observe Land Subsidence in Yuanlin area, Changhua County, Taiwan

Abstract: The behavior of land subsidence in Yuanlin area, Changhua County, Taiwan has been monitored by the two-pass method of Differential Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (DInSAR) during the period from 1995 to 2002. Our interferometric result has shown that the subsidence behavior is unusual right before and after the Chi-Chi earthquake. Two-month before the earthquake, the pre-seismic differential interferogram detects a substantial increase in land subsidence with a prominent U-shaped pattern of groundwater level change. Two days after the devastating earthquake, our one-month image-pair shows a five-fold increase in land subsidence and an apparent shift of subsidence center. In this study, we suggest mechanisms that contribute to land subsidence in pre-seismic, co-seismic and post-seismic. We tend to believe that the circular/elongated pattern shown in our interferograms are caused by a point-source deformation. Besides, strain also plays a very important role in accelerating land subsidence shown in the post-seismic differential interferogram. It causes a very sudden, step-like surge in groundwater. The shaking of the earthquake as well as the increase of groundwater trigger the occurrence of soil liquefaction, in return, accelerating land subsidence. We propose there are two center of land subsidence right after the Chi-Chi earthquake though only one subsidence center can be observed in our differential interferogram.

Here’s what the Taipei Times shows happening as a result of land subsidence:

Land subsidence causes damage to a house in Tungan village, Kaohsiung County. PHOTO: HSU PAI-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Here’s an interesting passage from the Geography Department at NTU titled The Hazards of Taiwan:

The fish-farming industry in western and northeastern Taiwan requires several times more ground water than is needed for irrigation. This kind of over-pumping of ground water results in serious land subsidence or sinking in the coastal areas. According to a recent survey, an area of up to 1,097 square kilometers suffers from subsidence: this is 3% of the island’s total land area and 9% of its flat area. This problem obviously needs an immediate and effective solution.

So even though there is plentiful evidence that local land use abuse resulting in subsidence is the primary cause of seawater incursions, the reporter, Benjamin Yeh, chooses instead to make “global warming” the primary culprit.

His paragraph says it all:

The temple of Matsu, ironically often described as the Goddess of the Sea, is only one example of how global warming is slowly, almost imperceptibly piling pressure on Taiwan.

Religion and global warming, a match made in heaven.

From this Taiwan Government Report on Water Resources we find this paragraph, red emphasis mine:

Land Subsidence

Lured by profits, many farmers in the coastal areas of Yunlin, Changhua, Pingtung, Chiayi, and Ilan have expanded into aquaculture. Aquaculturalists have dug 170,000 illegal wells and pumped excessive amounts of groundwater, because it is cheap and stable in temperature. In addition to being used in aquaculture, groundwater is also pumped for industrial, residential, and standard agricultural uses. Recent data shows that while 5.94 billion cubic meters of groundwater is being pumped annually, only four billion cubic meters is being replaced. This deficit has caused land in many areas to subside, especially along the southwestern coast and on the Ilan Plain. Overall, almost 865 square kilometers of Taiwan’s plains, or a full 8 percent, tend to subside. The most serious subsidence has occurred around Chiatung in Pingtung County, where sites have sunk by as much as 3.06 meters. The average rate of subsidence in the coastal areas is between five and 15 centimeters each year.

The Temple of Matsu is in Yunlin County which is located on this map:

Taiwan ROC political division map Yunlin  County.svg

Another study on groundwater and subsidence from the Department of Geomatics, National Cheng Kung University says:

For example, the overall amount of subsidence in Yunlin area in the past 30 years reaches about 2 meters, and the total affected area of subsidence is about 516 km2. Land subsidence has increased the vulnerability in this area, and a large portion of which lies below the mean sea level.

When badly flawed articles like this one from AFP’s Benjamin Yeh appear, blaming global warming for flooding clearly caused by land subsidence as a result of poor land use practice, we need to complain loudly to editors.


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May 10, 2010 9:38 am

Maybe it’s because global warming has made it rain less………….
(I’m just making a preemptive strike here.) LOL

PeterB in Indianapolis
May 10, 2010 9:43 am

Step 1: Build on land at or below mean sea level.
Step 2: Pump about 4 billion liters (over 1 billion gallons) MORE groundwater out of the area than gets replenished each year.
Step 3: Experience catastrophic flooding.
Step 4: Blame “global warming”
Step 5: Profit!
Easy as pie.

May 10, 2010 9:43 am

Bottom line: incompetent, agenda-motivated reporter tells lies. Climate skeptics will be blamed again.

May 10, 2010 9:43 am

Also some recent news on sea levels – an news article from Fiji suggesting that they on the other hand have had ultra low sea levels recently:

May 10, 2010 9:48 am

When I lived in Phoenix Arizona in the 60’s and 70’s, we hand our first recorded earthquake. It was small and it’s possible few if any people felt it. The cause was due to the ground water removal causing settling but because the structure of the earth was firm, very little movement took place. Pumping was such a problem that farmers were reaching the point that it was costing to much to lift the water to the fields. Other locations are not as fortunate and they depend on the water to support the hight of the land.
Some locations it’s not water removal but is oil. Some of the older oil fields in the Unites States look nothing like they did when they were first drilled because the land has sunk so much.
Both of these problems couldn’t be caused by Global Warming.

May 10, 2010 9:51 am

It’s hard to believe, but China still claims Taiwan, subsidence and all.

Evan Jones
May 10, 2010 9:52 am

Axel Moerner could sort that out. (He knows what areas are uplifting and what areas are subsiding.)

Tom Bakewell
May 10, 2010 9:52 am

Something not mentioned in this ‘article’ is the fact that Taiwan is in a tectonically active area where things can go up and down as well as sideways. Way long ago I looked at a lot of marine seismic data just to the south of the island, and boy, was it ever bent up (and down and sideways) Lots of unconformities visible.
The trouble with trying to measure sea level is first figuring out if the land is moving up/down. Quite the puzzle.
Tom Bakewell

Bruce King
May 10, 2010 9:57 am

Excellent post. People don’t realize that the amount of water is not finite. Then
what else than global warming to blame. Surely the scientists are aware of what has happened.
In the U.S. we are aware of what is happened. One example is the natural gas boom
in northwest Louisiana. Enormous amounts of water is needed for drilling below the
Shale layer at around 10,000 feet. Many farmers with worn out land are digging
enormous ponds to store water for use by drilling companies. An unexpected bonus
to go with lease payments and fees for pipe line crossings. One of the few states with
little unemployment problems.

Steve in SC
May 10, 2010 10:00 am

Of course the typhoons are caused by global warming no doubt.

May 10, 2010 10:01 am

…a large portion of which lies below the mean sea level.
Looks like salt-water pisciculture might a viable solution in Yunlin.
Alternatively, the Taiwanese might actively encourage immigration from the Netherlands…

May 10, 2010 10:07 am

1. Tell everyone the sea level is rising.
2. Snap up ocean-view real estate on the cheap.
3. Profit!

May 10, 2010 10:08 am

“[…] the land at one site along the stretch in Yunlin County has sunk 55 centimeters over the past seven years. […]”
At that rate of subsidence, Taiwan should consider changing it’s name to Atlantis.

May 10, 2010 10:09 am

Taiwan is a big sandbank. This is why, when they have earthquakes, whole “mountains” collapse. When you remove water from underground, the sand packs down. That’s why they had to go so deep to get to the bedrock (262 ft) when they built the Taipei 101 building.
I did not know global warming was so selective…

May 10, 2010 10:14 am

Scotland is still rising due to the effect of the weight of the last glaciation being removed. Does that mean we are having global cooling at the same time we are having global warming? Inquiring minds wish to know.
Tuttle, we will have to acclimate them slowly. First move them into the 9th ward of New Orleans to get them used to the below sea level pressure and then move them to the Netherlands.

Henry chance
May 10, 2010 10:15 am

The template never changes. Identify a crisis. Play the victum and identify a human villian.
They do not want a solution. I will offer one. Build the temple like a floating river boat casino. They it can adjust to fresh or seawater level changes.

May 10, 2010 10:16 am

King Shucks, maybe I ought to get in on this. Shale starts in the Boston area only down about 400 feet. The driller told me that they get ratty coal at that level down toward Providence.

May 10, 2010 10:16 am

“If the Greenland ice sheet melts, sea level could rise by as much 25 feet. Today there are 17 million people living less than one meter above sea level in Bangladesh, while places like Florida and Louisiana in the United States, Bangkok, Calcutta, Dhaka and Manila are also at risk from sea level rise.”

May 10, 2010 10:19 am

Las Vegas has sunk several feet due to overpumping of groundwater. Global warming would be blamed if it were closer to the ocean.

Dennis Wingo
May 10, 2010 10:20 am

Another thing that they don’t tell you in this article is that 500 years ago most of this land was underwater. I spent several weeks in Tainan Taiwan in 1990 and we took a cultural visit to the old Dutch compound in downtown Tainan. There was a woodcut that showed the compound, now on a hill in downtown Tainan 500 years ago. At that time the compound was on an island in the bay where Tainan is today.
Further investigating with my university hosts, I found that the southwestern end of Taiwan has been rising at an incredible rate over the past several hundred years of known history there. There is a fort that was built in the late 1800’s that was then on the beach, is now 1/4 mile from the ocean. Even the invasion obstacles that were placed on the beach that were supposed to rip the bottoms out of Chinese landing craft, placed in the water near the beach in the 1950’s, are now out of the water.

Pat Moffitt
May 10, 2010 10:20 am

Taiwan is not alone – see “Land subsidence caused by ground water withdrawal in urban areas” http://www.springerlink.com/content/jv32477625t44146/ Cities included on the list -Bangkok, Houston, Mexico City, Osaka, San Jose, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Venice.

May 10, 2010 10:21 am

Sea level changes according to Colorado university near Taiwan:

May 10, 2010 10:32 am

On “Using Radar Interferometry to Observe Land Subsidence in Yuanlin area, Changhua County, Taiwan”.
I think a one or two images of such “uncommon” techniques would be advisable.
One picture equals thousand words.
1. http://envisat.esa.int/handbooks/asar/CNTR1-1-6.htm
Chapter: Land Subsidence:
Direct image: http://envisat.esa.int/handbooks/asar/aux-files/ephimg-21718026.jpg
Figure 1.83 Relationship between ERS-1 SAR Interferogram and Panoma Subsidence. Image generated by JPL
2. http://pubs.water.usgs.gov/fs-165-00
Chapter: The Role of Science (Fig. 10)
Direct image: http://water.usgs.gov/ogw/pubs/fs00165/Images/fig10.jpg

May 10, 2010 10:40 am

Won’t it take a few thousand years for the ice sheet on Greenland to melt? Plent of time for a reverse or full cycle of any trend and even more time for other catastrophes…

May 10, 2010 10:42 am

The truth about Tiawan land (mis)use has been well documented: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/SNAA-7Y58FL?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P
Nothing but sound and fury from the warming outlets on this…

Hu Duck Xing
May 10, 2010 10:43 am

Dennis Wingo said;
” I found that the southwestern end of Taiwan has been rising at an incredible rate over the past several hundred years of known history there.”
Oh no! Is it going to capsize too? :0)

May 10, 2010 10:50 am

Using http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends.shtml you see places like Ko Lak nearby is seeing the sea level dropping 0.48 mm/yr. At Guam the sea level is also dropping 1.05 mm/yr. Check Japan, some up, some down.
Since many places show opposite movement in the sea level while in very close proximity how assured are we that these site are not more or less hand picked for display? This map is showing about a hundred out of many thousands of locations. As we have seen with temperature stations (much thanks to Anthony), we have little assurance of fair, random scientific data on this matter.

May 10, 2010 10:53 am

I’d like to submit a motto for the Warmist contingent: “So much BS, so little time”.

May 10, 2010 10:57 am

Sadly, the temple of Matsu (Goddess of the Sea) on Taiwan floods almost every year now. That gets blamed on human-caused global warming by the high-priests of the Global Warming religion, rather than other, far more likely natural causes.
Kary Mullis (Nobel prize winner for the polymerase chain reaction – PCR that has revolutionized DNA research) wrote in his book Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, “We accept the proclamations of scientists in their lab coats with the same faith once reserved for priests. … We have turned them into something almost as bad as lawyers. … Scientists could be something to entertain us and invent nice things for us. They don’t have to be justifying their existence by scaring us out of our wits. … we still haven’t learned to separate matters of fact from our beliefs. We have accepted as true the belief that we are responsible for global warming …”
Mullis gave a TED talk celebrating the need for actual scientific experimentation to justify scientific claims. In that 2002 talk (which for some reason was not posted to the TED website until last year) he rails against the IPCC and scientists who are in it for the money and not for curiosity about the truth. (The part about the IPCC and Global Warming is near the end, but the talk is humorous and riviting and well worth the time to watch.)
If you don’t have the time to watch the video, here is a short version from Mullis’s book: “Who are these people who make comfortable salaries arranging scientific symposia and stories for the media? They aren’t politicians. Politicians don’t know anything about scientific things. They just want to look like they do. Somebody has to advise them. Who are those advisors? It’s an important question because those people–who are always having to come up with the imminent disasters that can be prevented by governmental projects, sponsored by informed and well meaning politicians-are manipulating you. They are parasites with degrees in economics or sociology who couldn’t get a good job in the legitimate advertising industry. They are responsible for a lot of the things that you accept year after year as your problems. The problems they imagine for you are as imaginary as the commercials during Seinfeld about some Australian outback macho guy, with a Hollywood model by his side, driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle, with pathetic halfwits in pursuit due to a misunderstanding about the relative merits of the vehicles.
“Who pays these experts? Is it the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the United Nations is supporting with our money? Or is it the Environmental Protection Agency, which you were bitching about today because your company was having to close down one of its plants due to some fish that might go extinct, and you might get transferred in the shuffle? … Is it the World Bank’s Global Environment Facility? Is it Greenpeace? The Sierra Club? You are too tired from your day at work to try to figure it out. … the sun never sets on the British Empire or bureaucrats–environmentalists, as many of them are called today. Sleep soundly. Your planet is in well-fed hands.”

Ironically, 1998, when Mullis published these words, is now tied for highest temperature anomaly with 1934, after scientists at GISS (see graph and image of GISS email adjusted their calculations six times between 1999 and 2007 until they got the result they wanted!

May 10, 2010 11:00 am

OOPS! Here is the link for the TED talk by Kary Mullis.

May 10, 2010 11:03 am

Isostatic readjustment after the last ice age retreat means Scotland is rising and that southern Britain is sinking, a seesaw effect.
The constant refrain we hear from politicians in Britain is; “we cannot save the east coast (Norfolk) because of AGW and rising sea levels”
When the real problem is falling land levels and coastal erosion, a little more geomorphological study and a little less scaremongering and be a little like the Dutch, build massive dams/polders, problem goes away (albeit in the short term).

May 10, 2010 11:06 am

I’d rather listen to the experts than AFP.

“You have Vanuatu, and also in the Pacific, north of New Zealand and Fiji — there is the island Tegua. They said they had to evacuate it, because the sea level was rising. But again, you look at the tide-gauge record: There is absolutely no signal that the sea level is rising. If anything, you could say that maybe the tide is lowering a little bit, but absolutely no rising.”
Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner – former expert reviewer for the IPCC

OT – May 2010
In the future we [Russians] can anticipate a somewhat warmer and much more unstable climate, including snowfalls in May and July.
Russian WWF Climate Protection Program [translated]

May 10, 2010 11:07 am

Enneagram says:
May 10, 2010 at 10:16 am
Then you’d better take that pail of water away from Dorothy.
It’s May 10, 2010, and I am getting heavy rain starting to spit snow in NW Calif.
Snow level was supposed to be 5,000′, but has dropped to 3,000.

May 10, 2010 11:14 am

Classic. Overpumping of Ground Water. Overpimping of Global Warming.

May 10, 2010 11:17 am

From the IPCC
“No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected

Rhoda R
May 10, 2010 11:22 am

Pat, I’m surprised that Miami, Orlando, and Tampa aren’t on that list. We’ve been using the Floridian aquifer at an alarming rate in the south of Florida; I’m surprised that house-gulping sink holes are the only problem we’ve had.

May 10, 2010 11:26 am

Sounds like Taiwan has more than ample rain water as you read, see, and hear of Taiwan’s weather and floods. Just look at the pictures. Sounds like they should be capturing some of their flood waters in lakes and pumping it into their aquifers, not out. Bet most of their rain water is channeled down the rivers to the sea right now and lost. Thousand+ wells pumping water out of the aquafers will make a big difference over time, I guess they are seeing that now. I’m sure it keeps their water management budgets low and a well is more convenient but they will pay a price in the end. Just please, get off the ‘rising sea’ mantra.

May 10, 2010 11:32 am

Hu Duck Xing: Thanks for the link, the story is incredible. It might not have gotten much press in 2007, but with the Climategate scandal, this should come out. More people would be willing to hear the story!

Lonnie Schubert
May 10, 2010 11:33 am

Could AFP make their contact pager harder to work with?

May 10, 2010 11:36 am

Hmm, lets see. Melting glaciers in Greenland are causing sea levels to rise in Taiwan, thousands of miles away. Yet other low-lying land areas of the world are unaffected. Aren’t all the seas connected? Doesn’t water always seek its lowest level? How do the global warming seas select which land to flood over??

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
May 10, 2010 11:36 am

I should think it is obvious what is happening.
The People’s Republic of China (aka PRC or Communist China) is desperate to reclaim the territory occupied by the “rebellious” Republic of China (aka ROC or Taiwan), but they clearly do not want to risk a possibly-nuclear war to do so. Thus they have resorted to reclaiming the land by using their vast industrial might to to mine and transport Taiwan (Formosa) to the mainland from the bottom upwards, covertly working under the seabed across the Taiwan Strait. You can clearly see on the maps the subsidence is occurring on the edges of the main island with western shores, i.e. they are facing the PRC thus a direct route is possible.
This clearly is a more plausible explanation than global warming-induced sea level rise.

May 10, 2010 11:40 am

“Isostatic readjustment after the last ice age retreat means Scotland is rising and that southern Britain is sinking, a seesaw effect.”
First Guam, now Britain and Taiwan, are all at risk of capsizing.

May 10, 2010 11:48 am

Your website AFP contact claims to be a commercial site and that I’m not a client and therefore cannot leave a comment. (I merely wanted to point back to WUWT). Also, their pick list prelim to being able to leave a comment, didn’t seem to include the US!

May 10, 2010 11:55 am

Enneagram says:
May 10, 2010 at 10:16 am
“If the Greenland ice sheet melts, sea level could rise by as much 25 feet.”
The Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at a rate of 195 cubic kilometers per years.
It currently has a mass of 2.8 Million cubic kilometers. At the current rate it will take 10,000 years to melt.
At best we only have a few hundred years worth of fossil fuels to burn.

May 10, 2010 11:57 am

I hate quoting the IPCC but it’s better from the horse’s mouth when knocking AFP. How AFP decided it must be rising sea levels due to global warming is beyond me.

“Sea level is also influenced by processes that are not explicitly related to climate change. Terrestrial water storage (and hence, sea level) can be altered by extraction of ground water, building of reservoirs, changes in surface runoff, and seepage into deep aquifers from reservoirs and irrigation. These factors may be offsetting a significant fraction of the expected acceleration in sea level rise from thermal expansion and glacial melting. In addition, coastal subsidence in river delta regions can also influence local sea level. Vertical land movements caused by natural geological processes, such as slow movements in the Earth’s mantle and tectonic displacements of the crust, can have effects on local sea level that are comparable to climate-related impacts. Lastly, on seasonal, interannual, and decadal time-scales, sea level responds to changes in atmospheric and ocean dynamics, with the most striking example occurring during El Niño events.”

May 10, 2010 12:06 pm

harrywr2 says:
May 10, 2010 at 11:55 am
Except that they are not fossil fuels, just like the ethane and propane on Saturn’s moon, Titan, is not from fossilized Extraterrestrials.
Most oil and natural gas are constantly being produced in the mantle by abiogenic means. We will never run out.

Gary Hladik
May 10, 2010 12:07 pm

Uh-oh, my wife is flying to Taiwan the end of the month. I hope it’s still there in three weeks…

May 10, 2010 12:21 pm

Subsidence due to groundwater extraction is a major problem in central Mexico, even when I lived there a number of years ago. Some buildings had sunk over a meter, and were sinking perceptible amounts annually. In fact, at the cathedral in Mexico City they had installed stairs going down so that you could get to the stairs going up. Fortunately, as the central plateau is about 2000m above sea level, there’s no risk of flooding. Their problems are undoubtedly worse than Taiwan’s, given that there is little rain there to replenish the aquifer.

May 10, 2010 12:22 pm

BBC Scotland had much the same thing back in November 2009 (“Thailand’s rising tide of problems”) :
“In a three part special about climate change, BBC Scotland’s social affairs reporter, Fiona Walker, looks at what Scotland could be like in 2080.
In this first piece she writes about her trip to Thailand to see how areas of that country have disappeared under the sea and she asks whether the same fate could befall parts of Scotland.”
And, according to the article: “Professor Dr Thanawat Jarupongsakul from Chulalongkom University says it’s down to global warming and coastal erosion which he believes we all need to prepare for.”
Far be it for me to question the good Professor, with a little help from google, it is quite easy to find a report from the World Bank which puts the problem down to a number of causes – none of them global warming. Coastal damage due to fisheries is one of them. Lack of replacement silt due to interference with upstream river systems is another.
Funny how I could find that without getting off my backside, when Fiona got a nice trip to Thailand and still seems to have missed it.
This was during the pre-COP15 mega media feeding frenzy. So after all the splaff about what MMGW could be like, the article quotes Oxfam Scotland: “”Next month, we’re holding Scotland’s biggest ever demonstration in support of climate change in Glasgow.”
Since when did the scope of the “License Fee” (BBC tax) extend to giving free publicity to protest groups?
After the event, the protest organisers claimed 50,000 marchers. The police put it at 7,000.

Zeke the Sneak
May 10, 2010 12:31 pm

“Experts warned.”
That phrase “experts warned”just means they would like to impose some new regulations, fees, taxes, rationing and restrictions on you, preferably based on counting co2 and h2o molecules you may have had any contact with. When they get really good, they can make all the taxes retroactive to the day of your unfortunate birth.
Glad I could help.

May 10, 2010 12:52 pm

Gary says:
May 10, 2010 at 9:43 am
Bottom line: incompetent, agenda-motivated reporter tells lies. Climate skeptics will be blamed again.

I see no reason to assume the reporter is agenda-motivated. Incompetent will suffice. Or perhaps just lazy or rushed.
Thanks for the excellent research, Anthony! Keep on knocking the false stories down.

P.G. Sharrow
May 10, 2010 1:11 pm

Wang Chung-ho, an earth scientist at Taiwan’s top academic body Academia Sinica proves once again that “warmists” will tell any lie to make their point. These are not scientists they are propagandists.

May 10, 2010 1:37 pm

Google things like “Alviso” and “Frank’s Tract.”
Yep … subsidence … got it … been going on for years.

May 10, 2010 1:40 pm

Why is it that whenever I watch TV archaeological dig programmes, like Time Team for example they have to dig down through layers of earth to reach/discover artifacts. The further down they dig the further back in time they go. Surely that is land rise over a period of time, be it sediment/organic deposit etc.
No-one ever mentions the average rate of land rise over the centuries.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
May 10, 2010 1:40 pm

I found this listing of articles by this reporter. What do you think of this one?

Global warming raises Taiwan typhoon danger
By Benjamin Yeh (AFP) – Mar 1, 2010
TAIPEI — Global warming is raising the danger from typhoons, Taiwan experts warned Monday, saying the island may be hit in a year or two by a powerful storm like the one which killed more than 700 last August.
Typhoon Morakot dumped a record 3,000 millimetres (120 inches) of rainfall and caused massive mudslides in the south of the island, and the government should be prepared for similar disasters in the future, they said.
“A typhoon as powerful as Morakot is very likely to strike Taiwan in a year or two,” said Wang Chung-ho, a research fellow at the Institute of the Earth Sciences at Taiwan’s top academic body Academia Sinica.
“The government must work out effective countermeasures,” he told AFP.
Ho Tsung-hsun, an influential environmentalist who has called for the reduction of high energy-consumption industries in Taiwan, warned of repeated disasters in the coming years.
“Typhoons of the Morakot scale hitting Taiwan will become normal as the Earth’s environment changes,” he said.
“This is a grave warning from nature. It could end up exceeding our worst fears.”

Weather is not climate unless weather is climate change.

Robert Jacobs
May 10, 2010 1:56 pm

The AFP? Hah, that “news” agency is all about bias in international, environmental and religious areas. They exist to establish misinformation like this.
Forget it. You might as effectively complain about the New York Times’ editorial policy. AFP is not worthy of anyone’s attention.

May 10, 2010 1:56 pm

Tunnels and building foundations in London, Paris and New York have the opposite problem of rising groundwater levels due to reduced industrial abstraction. This may lead to flooded belowground floors in buildings.

Tsai in Taiwan
May 10, 2010 2:17 pm

It has nothing to do with global warming.
We Taiwanese are pumping out all the underground water to demonstrate our determination that we would rather sink our island into the sea than let the Chinese take our island republic.

May 10, 2010 3:08 pm

Tsai in Taiwan says:
May 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm
It has nothing to do with global warming.
We Taiwanese are pumping out all the underground water to demonstrate our determination that we would rather sink our island into the sea than let the Chinese take our island republic.
Now, this is an argument I can live with. LOL

May 10, 2010 3:17 pm

Taiwan should contact the Israelis on how to get fresh water.

Hu Duck Xing
May 10, 2010 4:29 pm

You’re welcome! The story about the enviroweenies pulling up the tree is just a stunning example of their willingness to do anything in furtherance of their lies!

Ulric Lyons
May 10, 2010 5:01 pm
May 10, 2010 5:21 pm

Arnost @ 9:43
I can see on the software I have (OrbMap) that there is currently a negative 33 centimetres sea surface anomaly in the Rotuma area, which would indicate low water spring tides being a foot lower than normal. No drama.

Mike J
May 10, 2010 6:05 pm

@Lonnie Schubert – yes, the AFP contact regime is like trying to climb through a gorse hedge with your shirt off.

May 10, 2010 6:21 pm

Most of the respondents to this post have given examples of subsidence due to over pumping of an aquifer. Most of this pumping has increased during the past 50 years as more and more power systems are made available and more horsepower lowered into the ground. Some of the aquifers in the Midwest have been lowered thousands of feet.
How much of the sea level rise we have seen in the past is due to the over pumping of our aquifers?

Jeff Alberts
May 10, 2010 6:46 pm

That would have to be some awfully pinpoint sea level rise. Since the island I live on hasn’t experienced any noticeable rise since the 1930s.

Chris King
May 10, 2010 7:27 pm

Wish I had posted this earlier. I visited the same castle that Obama went to in Ghana about a year ago. I was working there on a research vessel. There is a place in the castle where the slaves were escorted to the ships which took them to the countries that they were going for sell. I noticed that the docks just outside of this exit point were about 20 ft above the oceans sea level.
This could not have been a result of tides as near the equator, the tide does not vary that much. So, the land must have risen since colonial times in that area about 20-30 ft.
I would assume this can be confirmed. There was no water near the docks where the “ships” would have been tide up to load the slaves.

May 10, 2010 7:33 pm

Ah, but you guys have forgot about the real reason for this. I believe the population of Taiwan has increased rapidly and according to The” scientist “Congressman , when that happens on an island it may tip into the ocean. Just a reminder .

May 10, 2010 8:06 pm

Excellent analysis. The first thing that popped into my mind was that Tungshih is nowhere near the sinking areas cited. And I knew that hack Wang Chung-ho’s name would come up. He’s been all over the media saying the island is going to disappear under the sea due to evil carbon dioxide. He’s a featured speaker at one of a current series of scaremongering presentations on “climate” being held at the island’s citadel of political correctness and globalisation agitprop, National Taiwan University. Not sure I have the stage presence to confront him in front of an audience, but I might be able to get in a question or two. Will check the series poster tomorrow (featuring a big picture of – what else – a polar bear) to see when his turn at the rostrum is scheduled.
kwik @May 10, 2010 at 3:17 pm
Funny you should say that. Although I didn’t read it, I did notice a headline in one of yesterday’s Chinese-language papers on learning from the Israelis about water utilization. I’ve also met some locals who have bought or adapted irrigation systems devised there.
Too bad Taiwan doesn’t have any neighbours to steal water from, too.

May 10, 2010 8:23 pm

I tried to leave a comment to AFP and could not find a place to give them a complaint. I think this article flies in the face of their mission statement below
• Accuracy is the absolute priority.
• Reporters and editors check, then double-check the facts.
• Every story, every claim is sourced.
• Coverage is balanced. AFP gets the other side of story, always seeking a response to accusations, claims and recriminations.
• One-line bulletins and single sentence urgent dispatches deliver the breaking news immediately”
This article quoted by Yahoo demonstates the hypocracy in the media. There is no checking on the stories, accuracy is measured by the quality of plagarism rather than the accuracy of the message. What facts were checked? Yahoo was content to copy the APF article without checking too. It is really frustrating to see and hear day in and day out the anecodotal evidence of global warming propagandized by the major media. They do not seem to be accountable for misinformationr disinformation.

Baa Humbug
May 10, 2010 9:35 pm

Dear rich westerners,
Subsidize our subsidence

May 10, 2010 10:13 pm

Benjamen Yeh is motivated by ideological zeal. Post-normal journalism meets post-normal science. It’s pretty common these days, unfortunately.

May 11, 2010 2:04 am

The coastal zone of Gippsland where offshore oil rigs have been extracting oil since the 60’s is also facing significant subsidence. I imagine they will be telling as that seal level is rising due to climate change. BTW these wells are where they going to pump liquified CO2 for carbon sequestration.

Louis Hissink
May 11, 2010 2:59 am

Might be an idea to reproduce the photo of ground subsidence in San Fernando Valley which the late Lance Endersbee published in his last book – in which continued extraction of ground water caused the subsidence. Taiwan? Could it’s subsidence have a similar cause?
The specific photo has a person standing next to a power pole that had two signs on it denoting ground level then and now etc.
The issue here is that if humanity has been extracting ground water over time, causing in some places ground subsidence, then it follows that this fact alone should cause a rise in SL, coupled with land subsidence.
However current theory maintains that all ground water is recycled rainwater which Lance Endersbee, and others before him, questioned. Which means that water might well be primarily a mantle product that seeps to the Earth’s surface via various paths, human extraction being one of many.
Are those sources factored into any SL model? I don’t think so.

May 11, 2010 3:50 am

I blame the whales for sea-level rise.
Well, more particularly, the world-wide whaling bans, that have caused our Cetacean friends to breed like, well, terrestrial rabbits.
How many whales can displace metres of sea-water? Every time one of the jolly grey giants sounds, the sea-level goes up!
Bring back whaling, and the sea-levels will return to normal.

Mike H
May 11, 2010 6:18 am

AP has a long history of publishing articles that have scary global warming headlines and opening paragraph commentary followed by more details that begin to erode their initial scary position. Until, if you read right to the end, you find that the entire headline is undermined completely and utterly rendered fallacious by the content of the body of the article itself. It has been going on for so long now that my level of frustration has pushed me almost to the point where I would create a website just to debunk each one of these pathetic articles as soon as they appear. The manner in which the headlines are in dramatic dissonance with the content of the article body makes you wonder if the editorial team is heavily biased or doing the bidding of their owners. Or is the reporters on the ground that are being asked to send up material that fits the meme. Either way, it’s awful reporting and it makes AP look like a tool of the some nefarious program. Conspiracy theories begin to look plausible when you read their agitprop that has been ongoing and relentless for years now. For anyone who has “1984”, AP looks like a piece of the grand order of things. Especially when they don’t address these articles with any kind of correction or retraction.

Mike H
May 11, 2010 6:36 am

For what it’s worth, I sent an email to Academia Sinica as follows:
Hello Wang Chung-ho,
I am doing some background research for an article that I may publish that discusses the land subsidence problem affecting some areas of coastal Taiwan. I would like to ask you some questions about this AFP article.
In that article you are quoted as saying: “If the sea levels keep rising, part of Taiwan’s low-lying western part could be submerged,” said Wang Chung-ho, an earth scientist at Taiwan’s top academic body Academia Sinica.”
I find it interesting that you mentioned that sea levels were rising when in fact various studies have been carried out and it is also widely known that the reason for coastal flooding in specific areas of Taiwan is the excessive pumping of ground water.
Did you in fact state to AFP that “sea levels keep rising”? Would you like to clarify your position on this matter? Do you believe that you were misquoted or that your comments were taken out of context?
Also, were you personally interviewed by Benjamin Yeh from AFP? If not, which AFP reporter did interview you? Were you provided with a transcript of any interview that you had with AFP and would you be willing to share it with me?
I would appreciate any comments that you may wish to make and thank you for your time and assistance.
Mike H

May 11, 2010 8:01 am

I worked in Baytown TX for several periods between 1974 and 1978. (Near Houston, right on the coast and bayous in the refinery districts.)
We had lost several entire neighborhoods (and the San Jacinto monument and battleship Texas mooring site) to ground subsidence of between 2 ft and 4 ft (30-48 inches) due to ground water pumping for drinking water and refinery cooling water. (Some oil pumping too, but not much compared to the ground water loss.)
They changed the practice, ground water pool built back up, and “apparent” sea waters levels dropped back to normal.
The worldwide 2-3 mm change in sea water level could just as well be blamed on micrometeroid impacts as global warming, since a “global warming” change of 1/2 of one degree over the entire height of the sea levels CANNOT be used to calculate the water expansion differential.
(The sea temperature below 700 feet hasn’t changed measureably (that’s part of the “missing heat” the AGW alarmists can’t “find” in the pipeline), and the upper sea temps have NOT changed by the (mis-calculated and corrupted (er, “adjusted”) GISS change of 1/2 of one degree in air temps.
The few glaciers that have actually melted worldwide do not have enough volume to change ocean level. Total Antarctic ice is above average, and Arctic Ice changes do NOT change sea level – not that there has been Arctic Ice changes either, since this year Arctic ice is back at its normal levels) ….
So, this AGW alarmist must explain why Taiwan’s ocean has a three meter ocean “bubble” centered right on the island’s epicenter.

R. Craigen
May 11, 2010 1:36 pm

The elevation of Tungshih is 1076 feet, according to this source I imagine even a catastrophic meltdown of every cm^3 of ice in the world would not submerge the township under the China sea.

May 11, 2010 3:04 pm

How does global warming make the ocean rise on only one side of one island in the whole world? Amazing.

Mike H
May 19, 2010 7:29 am

Well, I received an email response from Mr Chung-Ho Wang as follows:
Dear Mr. :
Your questions was forwarded to me, I just came back from a field trip.
I was interviewed by a reporter of AFP (Mr. Noah Buchan) a few months ago regarding issues of climate change and Taiwan environmental problems, but not personally interviewed by Benjamin Yeh.
The PowerPoint file I shared with Mr. Buchan is attached for your reference. I apologize that the contents are mainly presented in Chinese.
Best regards,
Chung-Ho Wang
Of course, Mr Wang did not answer my most important questions but I will continue the correspondence and see how far I (don’t) get.

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