Sunday, June 21, 2009

Low-lying Pacific islands are not drowning because of rising sea levels

Dear W.A. I am very worried that low-lying Pacific islands will soon disappear because of rising sea-levels caused by carbon dioxide emisssions? Signed: Friend of Tuvalu

Dear Friend of Tuvalu - Don’t. It ain’t so. Environmental groups like Greenpeace like to show pictures of Pacific islands being inundated by sea water, blaming it on sea level rise caused by man-made carbon dioxide emissions. But the story is not that simple. Recently, on May 3, New Zealand TV broadcast a program round the launch of a global warming book POLES APART, by economist Gareth Morgan and writer John McCrystal. They showed sea water sloshing through a village on Takuu island, situated about 250 km north-east of Bougainville. The story was that rising sea levels were drowning the island and that its inhabitants would soon have to be evacuated. They would then become the first global warming refugees. Searching the Internet, I found that the sea level is rising by a huge 20 cm per year. I also found information that the island is SINKING, because of its position on the Pacific tectonic plate that is being subducted into the Solomon Trench. Plate tectonics is causing the island to disappear below the waves, not human carbon dioxide emissions. Some people criticised the TV program, pointing this out. A discussion developed in blogosphere, some people maintaining that it was global warming, not plate tectonics . These people are not susceptible to simple logic. If the sea is rising by 20 cm per year (that is 20 metres by the end of this century!!), it should also be noticed in other Pacific islands. Fortunately, we can check with the Australian South Pacific Sea Level & Climate Monitoring Project ( They have twelve monitoring stations over a wide area around Takuu. Their Figure 11 shows monthly mean sea levels from 1992 to March 2009. Most show variations over time but no overall rise, not even in Tuvalu, the poster island for the global warming alarmists. From this can be concluded that the sea level rise of 20 cm per year in Takuu is mainly caused by a sinking tectonic plate.
Incidentally, the IPCC, in its 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, has projections (NOT predictions!) for global sea level rise by the end of this century of between 18 and 59 centimetres only.
But real-world data will not deter global warming alarmists. If one search for Takuu on Google Earth, it shows a nearby island group to the west, called Carteret Islands. These islands are on the same sinking tectonic plate as Takuu. It has the Greenpeace G-logo next to it. Clicking on it brings up the following text:
The Carteret Islands, off the coast of Papua New Guinea, could be one of the first casualty communities as a result of climate change related sea level rise. This idyllic South Pacific paradise is suffering from the combined effects of sea level rise, erosion, storm surges, increased population and increased salinity of the soil. The combined effect are making the Carteret Islands uninhabitable.
No mention of tectonic plates of course. This blatant dishonesty is typical for groups like Greenpeace. Anything to scare the living daylight out of the unsuspecting public. All we can say is: DON’T WORRY. IT AIN’T SO