L. A. Times hypes coastal cliff erosion 9+ centuries into the future at existing sea level rise rates

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

The L. A. Times takes despicable propaganda advantage of the recent and tragic Encinitas bluff collapse to hype future bluff erosion impacts from 2 meter sea level rise increases that would in fact take over 9+ centuries to occur at existing NOAA tide gauge coastal sea level rise measurement rates.

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The Times article notes:

“The sea is rising higher and faster in California — a reality more officials are now confronting. Just last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that amended the state’s Coastal Act to say that sea level rise is no longer a question but a fact.

“With sea level rise, there’s no doubt that we’ll see more cliff failures along the coast,” said Patrick Barnard, research director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Climate Impacts and Coastal Processes Team.”

The “bill” referred to in the Times article simply adds the words “sea level rise” to the list of issues to be considered for coastal planning contained in Section 300006.5 of the Public Resources Code. 

The Times article grossly mischaracterizes and misrepresents the issue of coastal sea level rise by claiming that this change means “that sea level rise is no longer a question but a fact.”

Either this Times reporter is incredibly incompetent or she is being incredibly devious and disingenuous in trying to frame the issue as being whether sea level rise is occurring on California coastal regions or not.

As the diagram below clearly shows sea level rise has been occurring since the end of the last ice age some 20,000 years ago with the last 8,000 years showing low rates of increase.

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The controversial sea level rise issue related to climate science has always been whether coastal sea level rise is accelerating not whether it is occurring.

Nowhere does the Times reporter ever mention or address the critical climate science issue of sea level rise acceleration.

There are two long time period NOAA tide gauge measurement stations located near the region of the bluff collapse. These stations are located at San Diego and La Jolla.

These NOAA tide gauge measurement stations have data recorded periods of 112 years from 1906 through 2018. Neither of these stations shows any acceleration of coastal sea level rise during these measurement periods.

The rates of coastal sea level rise at these locations are a consistent 8.5 to 8.6 inches per century as shown below.

The 2 meter sea level rise that the reporter speculatively postulates in this Times article would take 9+ centuries to occur.

clip_image006clip_image008

This Times reporter has written a number of prior L. A. Times climate alarmist propaganda articles about future sea level rise and has not addressed the issue by using actually measured NOAA coastal tide gauge sea level rise data. She has always addressed future sea level rise based solely upon speculation and conjecture derived from computer models in trying to justify her future sea level rise assertions and this article is no different.

The diagram below shows her attempt to justify the 2 meter future sea level rise speculation resulting in up to 130 feet of future bluff erosion outcome by 2100 using results from a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in 2018.

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This study contains the following characterization of its significant limitations:

“A calibrated, but unvalidated, ensemble was applied to the 475-km-long coastline of Southern California (USA), with four SLR scenarios of 0.5, 0.93, 1.5, and 2 m by 2100. Results suggest that future retreat rates could increase relative to mean historical rates by more than twofold for the higher SLR scenarios, causing an average total land loss of 19–41 m by 2100. However, model uncertainty ranges from ±5 to 15 m, reflecting the inherent difficulties of projecting cliff retreat over multiple decades. To enhance ensemble performance, future work could include weighting each model by its skill in matching observations in different morphological settings.”

Therefore we have yet another L. A. Times article pushing sea level rise climate alarmist propaganda that ignores and conceals 112 year long time period NOAA tide gauge data measurements while hyping computer models that are “unvalidated” and subject to the pure speculation and conjecture of “retreat rates could increase” from the studies authors.

Furthermore the Times article deliberately misrepresents and mischaracterizes the issue of sea level rise by concealing that acceleration is what is driving this issues controversy not whether sea level rise is or is not occurring.

The prior articles this Times reporter have written about sea level rise do not address sea level rise acceleration or NOAA tide gauge sea level rise measurement data.

Climate alarmist claims of accelerating sea level rise are unsupported by globally measured tide gauge data as addressed in a recent study in the Journal of Geophysical Research which concluded that based on actual measurements there was “no statistically significant acceleration in sea level rise over the past 100+ years.”

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The exploitation of the tragic bluff accident in Encinitas by the Times to push its climate alarmist sea level rise propaganda is despicable. 

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68 thoughts on “L. A. Times hypes coastal cliff erosion 9+ centuries into the future at existing sea level rise rates

  1. When you’re talking about climate related issues, context is everything. The 120 m rise in sea levels over the last twenty thousand years inundated a lot of land and displaced a lot of people. Now that’s an environmental disaster … and it was all natural.

    The alarmists try to blame humans for tiny effects in spite of the fact that much larger effects happen naturally. Of all the interglacials during the current ice age, this one has the steadiest climate. link We should probably find a way to credit humans with that. 🙂

  2. Being a reporter on the LA Times is now almost as embarrassing as being a reporter for the BBC. How these ‘journalists’ don’t die from red faced embarrassment when they introduce themselves is a mystery.

    As a former senior journalist in the UK, I can tell you that in the 60s and 70s the rules of balanced content were well understood and followed. When reporting on an issue that was either controversial or on which there were differing opinions, after introducing the main point of the story (the ‘news’ angle) journalists HAD TO mention the opposing point of view as soon as practically possible – in most cases this was the second or third paragraph.

    This LA Times reporter is not acting like a journalist but journaling like an activist.

    • “With sea level rise, there’s no doubt that we’ll see more cliff failures along the coast,”

      No shit Sherlock ! Sea levels have been rising and cliffs have been eroding for thousands of years. If that was about to stop we should probably asking why.

      If things are expected to continue changing as they always have is hardly “news”.

    • I do think that it would be incredibly difficult to be both “Balanced” and a “Radical Leftist Environmentalist” at the same time. And I see no new report being a “Conservative” or a “Centralist”. That leaves us with “Unbalanced” being the norm.

  3. Good posting, Larry. In general the entire Pacific margin of North, Central, and South America shows geological signs of an emergent plate (whereas the Atlantic margins of same shows sinking plate margin, or transgressive sea if you wish). What might happen locally along this Pacific margin depends on dewatering basins, like the LA Basin, or thermal expansion/volcanism, or various plate tectonic complications-like micro-plates rotating when caught up between major faults, etc.

    Here’s the problem, great as WattsUP is the number of readers of the LA Times is greater, and their audience is (what’s the politically correct term for stupider? maybe more challenged to find their way home at n ight?). Hard to win hearts and minds in this senario.

    • “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis- informed.” – Mark Twain

      • Not really a Twain Quote. but it is just about accurate to what he said. I like Thomas Jefferson better:

        In 1807 statesman Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter complaining about the misinformation in newspapers: 6

        Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day

        Jefferson provocatively suggested the advantages of not reading the newspaper:

        I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.

  4. I used to hang out at the same set of beaches north of Santa Cruz, California for over 30 years. Any net sea level rise was lost in the sheer noise of the beaches growing and shrinking in response to storms and currents moving the sand around.
    The beach regulars did have to warn people not to sit closer than about six feet of the base of the cliff, as the rock was rather soft and faulted sedimentary rocks, and would shed rocks of various sizes without warning. The LA Times seem to be pitching their panic to newcomers to California.

      • Bob, no room here for hoping folk get hurt even if you disagree with them; hoping they get hurt is just descending to their level.

        • OP is clearly referring to collapse of the CAGW political / rhetorical bluff. The risk of physical harm in this event is low (probably a lot lower than if they get their way and manage to trash the economy and implement their agenda). I too am hoping that CAGW proponents take plenty of reputational damage when the edifice gives way.

  5. And always, lurking in plain sight beneath the story, is the implication that nothing should change. This in a region formed entirely by change as a sliver of continental crust west of the San Andreas Fault Zone is moved 5 centimetres per year in violently punctuated equilibrium, making these coastal bluffs among the most unstable anywhere.

    • Thank You. It is also well documented in the central coast region of California that the coast is rising. In the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, coastal bluffs collapsed killing people, but they also rose a foot.

  6. “in a recent study in the Journal of Geophysical Research which concluded that based on actual measurements there was “no statistically significant acceleration in sea level rise over the past 100+ years.””

    …that paper is almost a decade old…..the claim of acceleration is more recent..and I believe from sat measurements…

    …I have never been able to find a tide gauge that shows any acceleration at all

    • It depends on what one calls acceleration. There are cyclical rate changes. In this sense, sea level rise has accelerated many times over the past 150-160 years…

      But all of that is insignificant compared to this…

      • David, NOAA is claiming sea level accelerated since 1990 to now…which is blatant cherry picking
        …the “recent decades” they are talking about is that 28 years

        When you can…using NOAA’s own sea level graph….cherry pick from 1933 to 1961….another 28 year period….and show a faster rate of sea level rise

        Their blurb says 1993…but when you look into it….they are really talking about starting in 1990

        “The pace of global sea level rise nearly doubled from 1.7 mm/year throughout most of the twentieth century to 3.1 mm/year since 1993.”

        If you start in 1993…….that’s a 25 year period…..and compare it to the 1936 to 1961 period
        …it’s an even faster rate of sea level rise

        NOAA is pulling some kind of scam with this…their own data doesn’t back up what they are claiming

        https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-sea-level

  7. “With sea level rise, there’s no doubt that we’ll see more cliff failures along the coast,” said Patrick Barnard, research director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Climate Impacts and Coastal Processes Team.”

    Of course. A statement of the obvious but without a time frame.

    I think the residents of California have more pressing concerns …inevitable earthquakes that will be more destructive than slowly rising seas.
    http://www.wgcep.org/sites/wgcep.org/files/UCERF3_postcard.png

    • And without sea-level rise you will also see cliff failures, though not as many. And if sea-level starts sinking there will be even fewer ones, but there will be some until the cliff has eroded down to the angle of repose.

      Message: Don’t build close to cliffs, either above or below.

    • “California tumbles into the sea, That’ll be the day I go back to Annandale”
      My Old School- Steely Dan- 1973

  8. Given that sea level has been occurring for many thousands of years, perhaps a few people should be suing the current and previous Governors as they obviously did not perform due diligence if they are only now recognising the rise.

  9. Hmmmph. From the sea level rise chart, it appears to me that the “rise” has leveled off, which might indicate that it’s gone as far as it can go, and that a retreat is a possibility.

    There is NOTHING that says the climate can NOT swing toward a cooler period, is there? In the time period of 9+ centuries, the seas could retreat, couldn’t they?

    It appears the agenda is more important than reality. Pity. Such a narrow view of the world….

  10. I criticized a local reporter for using the NOAA worst-case scenario projection (8+ feet this century) instead of the actual past rate of 9 inches per century. She replied with a statement that she was standing by the NOAA number.

    So yes, reporters are incredibly uninformed, uninquisitive, and likely duplicitous.

  11. These LA Times “reporters: are useless, churning out endless climate propaganda.
    Each story has a by line and e-mail.

    I have emailed the “reporters” twice concerning two bogus stories on climate change and specifically sea level rise. I supplied links to facts that contradicted their stories.

    They NEVER reply. They know they are misleading and deceiving, but they are on the mission.

    As a result, I no longer go to the LA TImes website, or read any of their drivel. They have lost credibility.

  12. My money is on a sea level in nine hundred years lower than now because of a colder climate, either a little iceage or the onset of the real thing.

  13. With two close tide gauges showing a consistent rise for the past century, I’m curious as to how much coastal erosion has occurred in the area during the same time period. There must be coastal maps of the area dating to the turn of the (last) century that could be used for a comparison. I suspect those particular cliffs have moved inland by many feet during that time.

  14. Geology happens, sometimes with tragedy.
    But on the lighter side, the flattening of the rate of rise of sea level some 8,000 years ago is interesting.
    I think it was Tony Heller who did a chart showing the start of agriculture at that time.
    So, agriculture ended the long and rapid increase in the sea levels.
    Another example of man’s influence upon sea level????
    For those indifferent to logic, this is a sarc.

  15. On the “Post-Glacial Sea Level Rise” graph the trend line has a thickness that equates to about 2 metres. So most, if not all, of the changes over the last 2000 years and any changes in the next few centuries would be obliterated by this line. This fact shows how little impact Man has had compared with what Nature can throw at us.
    With respect to any acceleration here is a tongue-in-cheek thought.
    To lighten the comments, a bit of accelerating sea level rise Trivia. As an Engineer I tend to try to visualise quantities in a different light. The acceleration derived from the Tidal Gauge readings of 0.0126mm/year2 is out of my comfort zone but can be judged using the well-known car criteria of time to go from 0 to 60mph. Assuming my calculations are correct the time to reach 60 mph at 0.0126mm/year2 is nearly 70 trillion years and the car would cover a distance of nearly 2.5 million light years or further than the Andromeda Galaxy!! Even using Nerem’s bone-crushing mouth-watering acceleration of 0.084 mm/year2, that a year ago generated dramatic headlines and pictures of the Statue of Liberty and Big Ben under water, requires over 10 trillion years but only just over 400,000 light years to achieve.

  16. LOL! I went up the coast road in the 70’s. Part of the road was blocked by a landslide. That whole area of the coast is more of a aggregate than hard rock. Of course the cliffs are eroding. Doesn’t need sea level rise to cause it either.

  17. Cliffs will erode and recede from wave action even if there is no sea level rise. In fact, if the sea level lowers so there are no waves striking the cliff base, rain will do the job.

  18. The LA Times cannot use even the IPCC AR5 WG1 Chapter 13 information because it is not alrmist enough. It is only in RCP8.5 that “scary” SLR of +0.75 meters by 2100 occurs.
    But even the IPCC only graphs SLR back 3,000 years before present. They will not show pre-Holocene SLR and the dramatic > 130 meter SLR that occurred with the end of the most recent glaciation.

    WG1 Chapter 13, Figure 13.3 (a) shows statistically zero SLR for the last 3,000 years, with the present still below the noise level of reconstructed global sea levels.

    The fact that the 1400-1850 AD LIA mini-glaciation around the world caused SL decrease is exploited in most of their graphs to portray a flat line SLR prior to 1850. The false impression the LA Times want the public to gather is that the standard of the Holocene was static SL prior to fossil fuel use.

    The entire false journalism editorial narrative is being driven now by billionaires looking to cash in on the climate scam. And these Billionaires control/own the revenue-starved media outlets. The journalist’s and their editor’s very jobs depend on them pushing the climate hustle.

  19. The sea is rising higher and faster in California…

    Um…and not equally everywhere else? Then how can it be the result of climate change, journalistic supergeniuses?

  20. My theory is that the Cascadia Subduction Zone will considerably change the current coastal cliff situation in California in the future. More so than the rise and fall of sea levels.

  21. Wrote the following comment on this article on the Times website:

    “The Times article notes:

    “The sea is rising higher and faster in California — a reality more officials are now confronting. Just last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that amended the state’s Coastal Act to say that sea level rise is no longer a question but a fact.

    “With sea level rise, there’s no doubt that we’ll see more cliff failures along the coast,” said Patrick Barnard, research director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Climate Impacts and Coastal Processes Team.”

    The “bill” referred to in the Times article simply adds the words “sea level rise” to the list of issues to be considered for coastal planning contained in Section 300006.5 of the Public Resources Code.

    The Times article grossly mischaracterizes and misrepresents the issue of coastal sea level rise by claiming that this change means “that sea level rise is no longer a question but a fact.”

    Either the writer of this Times article is incredibly incompetent or she is being incredibly devious and disingenuous in trying to frame the issue as being whether sea level rise is occurring on California coastal regions or not.

    Sea level rise has been occurring since the end of the last ice age some 20,000 years ago with the last 8,000 years showing low rates of increase.

    The controversial sea level rise issue related to climate science has always been whether coastal sea level rise is accelerating not whether it is occurring.

    Nowhere does the Times reporter ever mention or address the critical climate science issue of sea level rise acceleration.

    There are two long time period NOAA tide gauge measurement stations located near the region of the bluff collapse. These stations are located at San Diego and La Jolla.

    These NOAA tide gauge measurement stations have data recorded periods of 112 years from 1906 through 2018. Neither of these stations shows any acceleration of coastal sea level rise during these measurement periods.

    The rates of coastal sea level rise at these locations are a consistent 8.5 to 8.6 inches per century.

    The 2 meter sea level rise that the reporter speculatively postulates in this Times article would take 9+ centuries to occur.

    This Times reporter has written a number of prior L. A. Times climate alarmist propaganda articles about future sea level rise and has not addressed the issue by using actually measured NOAA coastal tide gauge sea level rise data. She has always addressed future sea level rise based solely upon speculation and conjecture derived from computer models in trying to justify her future sea level rise assertions and this article is no different.

    The diagram in the article attempts to justify the 2 meter future sea level rise speculation resulting in up to 130 feet of future bluff erosion outcome by 2100 using results from a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in 2018.

    This study contains the following characterization of its significant limitations:

    “A calibrated, but unvalidated, ensemble was applied to the 475-km-long coastline of Southern California (USA), with four SLR scenarios of 0.5, 0.93, 1.5, and 2 m by 2100. Results suggest that future retreat rates could increase relative to mean historical rates by more than twofold for the higher SLR scenarios, causing an average total land loss of 19–41 m by 2100. However, model uncertainty ranges from ±5 to 15 m, reflecting the inherent difficulties of projecting cliff retreat over multiple decades. To enhance ensemble performance, future work could include weighting each model by its skill in matching observations in different morphological settings.”

    Therefore we have yet another L. A. Times article pushing sea level rise climate alarmist propaganda that ignores and conceals 112 year long time period NOAA tide gauge data measurements while hyping computer models that are “unvalidated” and subject to the pure speculation and conjecture of “retreat rates could increase” from the studies authors.

    Furthermore the Times article deliberately misrepresents and mischaracterizes the issue of sea level rise by concealing that acceleration is what is driving this issues controversy not whether sea level rise is or is not occurring.

    The prior articles this Times reporter have written about sea level rise do not address sea level rise acceleration or NOAA tide gauge sea level rise measurement data.

    Climate alarmist claims of accelerating sea level rise are unsupported by globally measured tide gauge data as addressed in a recent study in the Journal of Geophysical Research which concluded that based on actual measurements there was “no statistically significant acceleration in sea level rise over the past 100+ years.”

    The comment was removed with the following note provided:

    “This articles one of a handful of stories we open to comments each day because we want this to be a space where you can have an in-depth, meaningful conversation. Journalists involved in reporting, writing,editing and promotion of this story may drop in to answer questions you have or address your concerns. Articles with comments enabled can be found on the homepage.

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  22. According to a book published by the University of California Press, “more than 600 feet of retreat occurred between 1883 and 1891” in Encinitas. That’s based on railroad surveys. Bluff erosion isn’t new and isn’t going away. Today it’s caused by increased groundwater due to overwatering, removal of former bluff-top dunes, etc. as well as the relentless pounding of ocean waves. It’s certainly not something that is going to be stopped regardless of what actions are taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

    Here’s the reference for my quote. See figure 8b.

    https://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft0h4nb01z&chunk.id=d0e918&toc.id=d0e918&brand=ucpress

  23. The gap between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth in the UK used to be solid chalk cliffs. They are all gone now. Must have been destroyed by SUV use.

  24. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that sea level height has little to do with the rate of erosion and only to do with where it happens on the cliff face. If anything, lower sea levels would lead to more loss of cliffs as the waves would be undercutting a much higher cliff face that could no longer support itself.

  25. Another article from the LA Times about their cliff erosion issues. It’s not as AGW alarmist as it is a description of the failure of The California State Gov. to come up with solutions that work. Thus far, they’ve spent a lot of money only to find the ocean is boss and sand does not stay where you put it.

    The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea. Our choices are grim

    https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-sea-level-rise-california-coast/

    …In 2001, officials in San Diego County pumped about 2 million cubic yards of sand from offshore onto 12 beaches — the first large-scale attempt by California officials to add sand to disappearing beaches. It cost city, state and federal taxpayers $17.5 million.
    The effort was short-lived. Most of the beaches had narrowed significantly by the following year. The extra sand, Griggs found, “was removed within a day when the first large waves of the winter arrived.” A second attempt by the county — with twice as much money — yielded similar results…

  26. Change the cliffs to massive granite.
    It’s as simple as that.
    Do away with sandy sandstones and soft limestones.
    Sandstone and limestone cliffs could be eliminated by imposing a tax on them.

  27. The LA Times is a tree killing machine . It won’t take even 9 years before the LA Times is bankrupt .
    what do you do when you have gone all in on a massive fraud ?
    It’s like Madcow viewer drop after her hyper ventilated Mueller Report bombed and Mueller came out looking like a dazed and confused lip dribbler .

  28. diagram below clearly shows sea level rise has been occurring since the end of the last ice age some 20,000 years ago with the last 8,000 –> diagram below clearly shows sea level rise has been occurring since the beginn of the last interglacial some 20,000 years ago with the last 8,000

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