More Pacific island #COP23 Opportunism

Guest essay by John McLean

Barry Brill’s report on Fiji’s relocation of a village doesn’t mean that it’s the only opportunistic Pacific island country when it comes to COP23. It’s near neighbour, Kiribati, is likewise trying to get its hands on some of that money to reimburse it for the NZD10 million paid to Fiji for 15,000 acres of land on which to resettle refugees from rising sea level.

Bairiki is one of the largest towns in South Tarawa of Kiribati. The State House, the National Stadium, the High Commissions of Australia and New Zealand as well as the embassy of Taiwan, and most of the Government Ministries are based in Bairiki. Source: Text – Wikipedia, Image –  Google Earth

The Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) database shows that the only tidal gauge currently operating in Kiribati is at Betio (Lat. 1.365 S, Long. 172.933 E), on the island of Bairiki, which is ENE of Nauru, almost due north of New Zealand.  The gauge has only been operational since January 1993 and the first two years can be ignored because data is missing for nine months of that period.


The trend in monthly average sea level at Betio from January 1995 to December 2016 shows a rise of 4.7mm/year, which is almost three times the global average calculated from tidal gauge data.

Sea level at many Pacific Islands rises and falls according to the El Nino-Southern Oscillation. The strong El Nino of 1997-8 saw sea level at Betio fall about 250mm and only slowly rise back to its old level. With this event so early in the sea level record the relatively high trend is hardly surprising.

Skipping the period of the El Nino and the slow recovery and calculating the trend from January 2000 to December 2016 shows just 1.9mm/year.

At that rate it will take over 50 years to exceed 100mm, which is about the width across the palm of an adult male’s hand. A mass exodus due to rising seas to Fiji or anywhere else any time soon seems highly unlikely.

The sea level response at Betio to the 1997-8 El Nino was very unusual because most El Nino events cause a rise rather than fall. In fact sea level at Betio corresponds very well to the Nino 3.4 ENSO index of about three months later.

The close relationship between sea level and the ENSO indicates that the ENSO is the primary driver of Betio’s sea level. This of course is hardly likely to stop the Kiribati government claiming otherwise and begging for money, such is the attraction of supporting the UNFCCC’s beliefs.


While researching the reports of rising sea level it was found that the data for Pago Pago (American Samoa) has an upward step in 2010. A check of GPS data from the Nevada Geodetic Laboratory (see reveals a gradual fall at station ASPA, near the Pago Pago airport, that began in that year and still continues, being about 120mm at the present time. It appears that the PSMSL data for Pago Pago has not been corrected for the fall in the tidal gauge. Tidal gauge data for Honolulu also seems in need of adjustment, which raises the question of how much PSMSL data is in need of correction and the impact those adjustments might have on the global average sea level trend.


Greg (posted at 2:16pm on Nov. 9) requested a graph of
Betio SL and Nino 3.4. here it is:
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November 9, 2017 10:39 am

Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
I blogged on this rort back in 2013 following the 44th Pacific Islands Forum:

“The purported plight of The Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and other Pacific Island nations serve merely as emotional arguments to promote Government and global climate agenda for carbon (dioxide) taxes, whilst cash-strapped Pacific Island nations use the associated climate guilt as a vehicle to pursue compensation to be paid by Western nations. Economic outcomes in line with the United Nation’s wealth redistribution agenda.”

Not much has changed since then! The lure of green cash will corrupt to lies and unlimited falsehoods.

Joel O’Bryan
November 9, 2017 10:42 am

Free money?
What’s not to love about that for the Kiribatians?

Those cargo planes should be landing any day now… stuffed with Western cash.

Kaiser Derden
November 9, 2017 10:57 am

AGW is really just another “cargo cult” … as long as the cargo is unearned cash …

Tim Ball
November 9, 2017 10:57 am

Please read my article on this issue in conjunction with John’s observations.

Tom Halla
November 9, 2017 10:58 am

That sea level gauge chart looks lumpy, but the start and end point are nearly the same level. What sea level rise?

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 9, 2017 11:22 am

4.7 mm/yr x 22 yrs = 103.4 mm.

Eyeball it. Starting Jan 1995 to Jan 2016 (22 yrs) it starts at around 6850 mm and ends at around 6950 mm, or about the 100 mm from the trend.
The start point is the problem as John pointed out. Just as the satellite-era Arctic Sea Ice records start in 1979 at a high point and allows an exaggerated trend line downward, this short PSMSL record also has an exaggerated trend line upward.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
November 9, 2017 1:12 pm

There is a starting PMSL dot at 6950mm.

As Tom Halla points out, there is not a trend.
Nor should something be declared to show a trend when even short periods exhibit positive and negative movement.

Especially when dealing with natural effects subject to long, currently incomprehensible cycles.

November 9, 2017 11:08 am

For an expose of the explicit UNFCCC ‘small island’ gamesmanship behind this part of the climate movement, see 2013 essay Caribbean Water at Climate Etc. Sea level rise tangled together with drought to extort mythical green climate funds.

Jeff in Calgary
November 9, 2017 11:31 am

Isn’t it interesting the new large projects that appear when doing a short research post. Who is going to investigate the tidal gage data. Seems we may need a program like the Surface Station program from a few years ago.

Joel Snider
November 9, 2017 12:12 pm

But remember, all us here in the US are ‘selfish and stupid’ if we don’t just cough up the money when it’s demanded by the entitled.

Ricco from Brooklyn (south)
November 9, 2017 12:21 pm

Just a word about Kiribati. When you ‘sound’ the name in your head or say it, note it is pronounced ‘Kiribas’.
I was at the UN (as a visitor) when Kiribati was the latest to join the UN and the tour guide (when I suggested quietly what the pronunciation was) looked at me as some idiot foreigner and continued to say ‘Kiribati’!

I remain amused at the hysteria about SLR. Here in NZ we are getting more local government panic about SLR affecting coastal housing and we get great reports about how places on the shore of Wellington Harbour (or Harbor) will be soon inundated. This ignores the fact that our geologically regular earthquakes (every 50 to 100) years raise the Wellington area many times the alarmist modelled SLR .
Our airport was once at and below sea level (and then not an airport!) and a main coastal road (the Hutt Road) was able to be built when the sheer cliffs suddenly had a shoreline shelf to put a road on (two earthquakes 1845-55).

Reality, facts and history never seems to confuse the minds of panic merchants.

Gary Kerkin
Reply to  Ricco from Brooklyn (south)
November 9, 2017 2:02 pm

It is worth pointing out, Ricco, that the sea floor around Kaikoura NZ, which was very close to the epicentre of a major earthquake on 28 November 2016, rose by up to more than 2 metres. The whole northern part of the South Island was lifted. It’s what happens when tectonic plates move!

The same is true of the South Pacific Islands monitored by the PSMSL project. They, and NZ, sit on the Pacific “Rim of Fire”. Given that NZ is often called “The Shaky Isles” I have to wonder why NZ is becoming the target for “climate change refugees”. I would have thought 3 major earthquakes in the last 10 years would put anyone off—except for those of us who live there (and through the earthquakes)!

Good article, John.

Bruce Cobb
November 9, 2017 12:32 pm

If they would just hold an underwater cabinet meeting, I bet they could really get the ball rolling.

kokoda - AZEK (Deck Boards) doesn't stand behind its product
November 9, 2017 12:42 pm

I love the smell of $$$$$$$$$ in the morning.

November 9, 2017 12:53 pm

I’ve discussed this question in a post called “So Many People … So Little Rain“.

Regards to all,


November 9, 2017 1:04 pm

“A mass exodus due to rising seas to Fiji or anywhere else any time soon seems highly unlikely.”

Pour yourself a great big tall glass of Shut Up Juice. Don’t you realize these people stand to make a ton of money for doing nothing??

Reply to  Kamikazedave
November 10, 2017 3:39 am

But in the end if the money is paid out it will be because we have lame brained swamp critters making the decisions for us. And then we still re-elect them. Isn’t bizarro world a wonderful planet on which to live.

November 9, 2017 1:44 pm

The problem with hanging out a carrot in the form of free money is that you basically get honest people starting to lie about a problem that they soon start to believe is a real problem, as other people at global climate change conferences tell them they are about to sink under the waves. Can’t really blame the Islanders for wanting free money when all the eco-loons tell them they are soon to be climate refugees and there all this money available for the plucking.

It is not essentially related to AGW rising seas, but oceans that are slightly changing levels due to thermal expansion/contraction or subsidence of one type or another, on top of the unchanging sea level rise that has been ongoing, fairly much unchanged for thousands of years since the end of the ice age. The problem is with a sub-set of activists with a ulterior motive in shutting down western economies and blaming everything on capitalism through fossil fuel use. This activism isn’t a whole lot different than communism or fascism was in earlier days, just re-gifted now as environmentalism. And it is a different type of environmentalism than it was in the 1960’s when we were saving the whales from butchery, or disposing of garbage or even nuclear waste at sea. I was there for that, but this now is more SJW’s to even the tables on those who are have nots in the 3rd world and those in the 1st world. I don’t know what happened to the 2nd world…

Reply to  Earthling2
November 9, 2017 4:23 pm

The 2nd world is technically the former USSR and China, plus a few other soviet satellites.

Smart Rock
November 9, 2017 1:50 pm

Look at Kiribati on Google Earth. It’s basically a series of coral atolls, but a lot of the islands look like sand bars from their morphology, presumably coral debris washed along the shore by wave action. A large part of Kiribati could get washed away in a major storm, and this would have nothing to do with SLR or AGW, but of course these would be blamed anyway.

On the other hand, this passage from Wikipedia (it must have snuck in without anyone reading it):

“The atolls and reef islands can respond to changes in sea-level. Paul Kench at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and Arthur Webb at the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji released a study in 2010 on the dynamic response of atolls and reef islands in the central Pacific. Kiribati was mentioned in the study, and Webb and Kench found that the three major urbanised islands in Kiribati—Betio, Bairiki and Nanikai—increased by 30% (36 hectares), 16.3% (5.8 hectares) and 12.5% (0.8 hectares), respectively.” (then goes on to say that there was no vertical growth, so they will still be submerged due to the dreaded SLR and it’s all our fault for driving SUVs – obviously there’s no room for good news in the global warming news)

The big surprise is that the islands on the south side of the triangular atoll complex are totally built over – wall-to-wall houses. If that big storm does come, there will be a lot of people with nowhere to go. The sand-bar causeways between the three main islands would be the first to get washed away.

I wonder to what extent building roads and houses will impede the ability of corals to grow upwards as sea level rises. It’s hard to imagine corals thriving and growing to meet sea level if there’s concrete in the way. Of course, that’s not part of the story; it will be “corals couldn’t keep up with accelerated SLR due to AGW”. I can almost write it the story now, it’s so predictable.

Reply to  Smart Rock
November 9, 2017 4:13 pm

Leftiepedia is a lying toilet of a website. Bring it down.

Reply to  Smart Rock
November 10, 2017 2:34 am

I wonder to what extent building roads and houses will impede the ability of corals to grow upwards as sea level rises. It’s hard to imagine corals thriving and growing to meet sea level if there’s concrete in the way.

What? Coral sand “grows” under water, so existing coral islands are always temporary in the sense they need waves and wind to push more sand of top of the old.

Gary Kerkin
November 9, 2017 2:15 pm

I have a feeling of great discomfort over the AGW claims about sea level rise and there is much discussion about it in a forum John and I both subscribe to. That is compounded by concerns about how any grant monies are to be applied or diverted to other uses.

I haven’t read the Paris Agreement (has anybody?) and it is unclear to me how the expenditure of monies available is supposed to be controlled. Is there a prescription? Are there binding definitions/regulations which would preclude corruption? Would someone who has studied the agreement enlighten me please.

Reply to  Gary Kerkin
November 9, 2017 5:14 pm

Preclude corruption? Why on Earth would you want to do that? This is the climate change fraud we are talking about. Emphasis on the fraud.

Gary Kerkin
Reply to  Hivemind
November 9, 2017 5:57 pm

Hivemind, can you answer my question? If not, why did you bother to comment? I used the the word “preclude” because, contrary to what appears to be your point of view, not everyone concerned about climate change is corrupt. Misguided as they might be, some of these people genuinely believe they are in danger. I would like to know how much has been prescribed to prevent corruption by those who would like to profit from that genuine concern.

November 9, 2017 2:16 pm

The sea level response at Betio to the 1997-8 El Nino was very unusual because most El Nino events cause a rise rather than fall.

Could you illustrate that by plotting the two. It does not appear to be the case from a quick visual inspection.

John McLean
Reply to  Greg
November 9, 2017 5:16 pm

See update at foot of article.


November 9, 2017 3:09 pm

I find it disconcerting that it’s difficult to find photographs of these ‘threatened’ islands from a few decades ago so that visual comparisons can be made with Google Earth from ‘today’.

So I decided to search on ‘surface area’ for Tuvalu and Maldives – and found these charts:


Reply to  Dave_G
November 9, 2017 4:32 pm

Doubtless their crop yields are up though. Maybe it’s time to start applying an agricultural productivity tax for all the free plant food donated by the West.

November 9, 2017 3:38 pm

“The sea level response at Betio to the 1997-8 El Nino was very unusual because most El Nino events cause a rise rather than fall.”

Not at all. Quite normal. In the Eastern Pacific sea level goes up during a Nino. Like in Galapagos (Baltra)

In the Western Pacific it goes down Like in Funafuti (Tuvalu):

This is quite natural, during a Nino the Eastern Pacific heats up and the Western Pacific cools down and the westerly winds increase as well.

Patrick MJD
November 9, 2017 5:54 pm

PSMSL could mean P!Sing MySelf Laughing, surely not!

November 9, 2017 6:02 pm

There has been tide gauges in Kiribati since 1949, with sufficient overlap to produce a long record with indicating trend. As far as I can tell, there has been less than 1mm per year rise in sea level over this longer period. All of these shorter time frames for sea level rise are totally insufficient to deduce any long term pattern what so ever. comment image

November 9, 2017 6:47 pm

comment image

November 9, 2017 7:09 pm

Am I reading the graph in the footnote correctly? It looks like the Betio relative sea level is a LEADING INDICATOR for Nino3.4 anomaly!!! Can somebody with stronger math skills than me crunch the numbers for a correlation and lead intervall?

Anything that could reliably predict Nino3.4 by a few months would be awesome for short-term global climate forecasting. This is one gauge. There may be others on the planet with an even better correlation. Or maybe use a “composite index” of multiple gauges. This sounds like a worthwhile research project.

Reply to  Walter Dnes
November 10, 2017 6:16 am

The Nino 3.4 index is mean of 3 months rolling average SST anomalies. I think your lag is partially to do with this averaging process. The other likely issue is that surface SST anomalies are preceded by deep water anomalies. This will alter sea level from thermal expansion and retraction prior to any surface temp anomalies emerging.
You can see these deep anomalies here

November 9, 2017 8:48 pm

I commend you on not using the enye letter/character in this article. It has annoyed me since this weather phenomena was rediscovered and then explained by science (I think in the early 1990’s).
If we are going to adopt it into the American English language, we shouldn’t add to our 26 letter alphabet. Two examples are canyon and pinyon, though the latter, like “the Ninyo”, will be incorrectly pronounced forever. Only those with a Spanish accent pronounce it “peenyon”. The spelling would change from Spanish, but it is pronounced Neenyo. “El” is similar to our “the”, though a noun’s gender isn’t needed.

Reply to  pcant
November 9, 2017 8:55 pm

I guess I should have spelled it “peenyone”, like “condone”, but it still would get pronounced correctly. Maybe “peenyoan”?, like “loan”?
Why doesn’t “lone” rhyme with “one”?
Why is “one” pronounced like “won”?
Isn’t this fun? No.

November 10, 2017 1:32 am
November 10, 2017 2:01 am

Tide gauges with long observations is very interesting. You can see a wave pattern hard to explain with CO2.
Sidney is a good example:

November 10, 2017 2:19 am

The records of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology over nearly 30 years so almost zero rise on Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji.

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