Flooding island lies

Anti-science, pro-cash

Once again a national leader makes the false claim that his low-lying island nation is about to be flooded because of “climate change”. It’s not hard to show that he’s telling great big porky pies.

An article was posted on the Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) web site recently (h/t – Richard Cumming). I found the Marshall Islands government press release it was based on and in which the Marshall Islands Foreign Minister, Philip Muller, said the king tides were the latest in a series of increasingly serious and regular climate impacts. It’s taken me a while, but the article is finally finished.

Muller went on:

“While king tides are not new to the Marshall Islands, their frequency and ferocity are clearly intensifying. For those of us in the Pacific, silly discussions about the scientific truth of climate change are futile. We see with our own eyes that the oceans are rising, and our tide gauges confirm it. We know there is only one explanation for this unprecedented phenomenon – climate change has arrived. Last month, US Secretary of State Kerry said climate change could be the world’s “most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” Here in the Marshall Islands, at an average of just six feet above sea level, we are at ground zero.”

The only truth here is that king tides are not new. His other assertions are vivid dreams at best and cynical lies at worst because climate change had nothing to do with his troubles.

King tides (commonly known as spring tides) are very high (and low) tides that occur at the full and new moon, when the gravitational pull of sun and moon combine. They cannot happen more than twice a month, so their frequency is certainly not “intensifying” as Mr Muller claims. Also, since the sun and moon are not growing larger, the “ferocity” of spring tides can’t intensify as Muller claims — although they do vary a little, as the orbits wobble a bit.

Muller claims his tide gauges confirm the oceans are rising. Really? To check that, let us go to the gauges installed around the Pacific by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology from about 1993. Their monthly reports warn against making predictions because the records aren’t long enough, but we need some starting point to evaluate Muller’s alarming claims.

You can download the monthly data at the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project (SPSLCMP) and produce this graph, as I did:

Sea level in Marshall Islands May 1993 to Jan 2014

Multiplying the slope shown on the graph (0.0005) by the number of data points (241) gives 120 mm of sea level rise over 20 years. Let’s accept it for the sake of argument. The average annual rise was 6 mm, or 600 mm over a century — in line with some forecasts to 2100.

But the Marshall Islands won’t be destroyed. They’re at a low altitude, but not that low — they average about 2000 mm above the water. The 6 mm/yr is enormous compared with the recent historical global SLR of 1.9 mm reported in the IPCC (AR5, 2013), which comments:

It is very likely that the mean rate was 1.7 [1.5 to 1.9] mm yr–1 between 1901 and 2010 for a total sea level rise of 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m. Between 1993 and 2010, the rate was very likely higher at 3.2 [2.8 to 3.6] mm yr–1; similarly high rates likely occurred between 1930 and 1950. [bold added]

It’s hard to believe that the Marshall Islands sea level is dangerous. At either of the highlighted rates in bold, there’s little danger to coral atolls because they usually keep pace with rising or falling sea levels. Though most atolls we see today formed since the last ice age 15,000 years ago, some coral atolls have been around for several hundred million years.

If anything dramatic is about to happen to the islands, there’s no evidence of it. The monthly reports from the SPSLCMP used to show a graph of long-term trends but after June 2012 they no longer appear. The last graph in 2012 is instructive for the Marshall Islands, showing a long, slow decline or even stasis for the last 15 years. It doesn’t get me excited about the possibility of watching the death of coral islands any time soon. This is a snip taken from Figure 13 on page 28:

observational record of sea level [CORRECTION: trends] at the Marshall Islands May 1993 to June 2012

There are thousands of houses and buildings in the Marshall Islands. About 70 were damaged to some degree by the recent king tides. The rest are fine. By definition, the damaged houses were built too near the sea, because the vast majority are unaffected. Sure, there’s huge pressure on available land on a small island, but to claim western fuel use caused this damage is either a joke or a fraud. Take your pick.

This photo of the economic hub on Majuro Atoll shows the robust nature of these islands that belies the “fragile” and “threatened” description counterfeited by Philip Muller and others.

The business end of the 'delicate' Marshall Islands

Google Earth lets us see the built-up areas on Majuro.

Some threatened homes in the Marshall Islands

About 17 kilometres round the atoll there’s an international airport. An operational airport.

Marshall Islands international airport

On Kwajalein Atoll someone built tourist hotels near the beach.

Hotels on Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands

They’re not barely subsisting on breadfruit, coconuts and fish, are they? In fact, life in the Marshalls looks downright cosy. It could get even cosier if we would only give them more money.

Perhaps in compensation for, say, ruining the climate?

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19 Thoughts on “Flooding island lies

  1. Richard C (NZ) on 22/03/2014 at 8:39 am said:

    Nicely illustrated post RT, well done.

    [Phillip Muller] >”We know there is only one explanation for this unprecedented phenomenon – climate change has arrived”

    Hardly unprecedented Philip and not a change of climate (and not human driven either – no “fingerprint”)), but we expect you to regurgitate the UN’s meme. What has arrived for you is an unfortunate fact of life in that part of the Pacific i.e. a localized ocean phenomenon unrelated to your tropical climate.

    Easily demonstrated with a map of global sea level rise trends and locating the Marshall Islands on it (NE of Solomons, just North of the equator):


    It could be worse Phillip, West of you there’s double the rise you’re experiencing.

    But take a look East.

  2. Richard C (NZ) on 24/03/2014 at 9:17 am said:

    After torturing sea level data, French inquisitors have gained a confession – “the global warming signal” in SLR:

    The rate of sea-level rise by Anny Cazenave, Habib-Boubacar Dieng, Benoit Meyssignac, Karina von Schuckmann, Bertrand Decharme and Etienne Berthier published in Nature Climate Change online on 23 March 2014. DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2159.


    Now all they have find is the anthropogenic global warming signal in SLR (another round of torture required obviously). From the article:

    “The data for 2003–2011 shows an average rise in ocean levels of 2.4 mm per year compared with a rise of 3.5 mm per year for the preceding decade, representing a decrease of about 30%. Correcting for the interannual variability gives an underlying sea-level rise rate of 3.3 ± 0.4 mm per year for the period 2003-2011”



    Amazing how, under pain of torture, 2.4 mm/yr becomes 3.3 mm/yr. Data torture is very effective.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 24/03/2014 at 9:38 am said:

      Similarly (in the propaganda vein):

      Mann’s latest propaganda: “Global Warming Will Cross a Dangerous Threshold in 2036”

      “Emitting carbon dioxide at current rates will soon push Earth’s temperature up by 2 degrees Celsius”


      UPDATE: Steven Goddard has graphed Mann’s ridiculous assumptions on CO2 sensitivity to 2036 in comparison to observations:


    • Richard C (NZ) on 25/03/2014 at 9:22 am said:

      The Hockey Schtick on Cazenave et al (2014):

      ‘New paper finds global sea level rise has decelerated 31% since 2002 along with the ‘pause’ of global warming’

      New paper attempts to explain the ‘pause’ in sea level rise

      A paper published today in Nature Climate Change finds that global sea level rise has greatly decelerated 31% since 2002 from 3.5 mm/yr to 2.4 mm/yr. According to the authors, “This decreasing Global Mean Sea Level [GMSL] rate coincides with the pause observed over the last decade in the rate of Earth’s global mean surface temperature increase, an observation exploited [very unscientific choice of words] by climate sceptics to refute global warming and its attribution to a steadily rising rate of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” [Apparently, the authors think that any skeptical scientist who points out an obvious inconsistency between datasets is exploiting the observational data.]

      This observation, of course, is a crisis for CAGW alarmism and therefore must be solved by a computer model. The authors simply create a hydrological model programmed to say that the reason why sea levels have decelerated is because it must be raining more over land due to ENSO and therefore the land ate the 31% decrease in sea level rise [No mention why ENSO also didn’t cause more rain over the oceans]. The authors admit there is no data to support land water stores prior to GRACE since ~2003, therefore they just fabricate estimate the comparison data for the period 1994-2002 of how much sea level rise was ameliorated by land precipitation. Abracadabra, the land must have more than eaten the sea level rise from AGW, allowing it to decelerate, and the AGW “missing heat” is still very much alive somewhere in the ocean.

      The authors also find that even with this huge adjustment to sea level rise, there is no evidence of acceleration over the past 20 years, which means there is no evidence of a human influence on sea levels [hotlink]



    • Richard C (NZ) on 25/03/2014 at 10:59 am said:

      Re >”Mann’s latest propaganda” (didn’t realize this would escalate)

      ‘Hide the decline deja vu? Mann’s ‘little white line’ as ‘False Hope’ may actually be false hype’

      Foreword by Anthony Watts

      An essay by Monckton of Brenchley follows, but I wanted to bring this graphic from Dr. Mann’s recent Scientific American article to attention first. In the infamous “hide the decline” episode revealed by Climategate surrounding the modern day ending portion of the “hockey stick”, Mann has been accused of using “Mike’s Nature Trick” to hide the decline in modern (proxy) temperatures by adding on the surface record. In this case, the little white line from his SciAm graphic shows how “the pause” is labeled a “faux pause”, (a little play on words) and how the pause is elevated above past surface temperatures.



      UPDATE2: Note the lead in text says “Global temperature rise…”

      But in comments, Willis and Bill Illis have worked out that the white line represents only half the planet, the Northern Hemisphere. The white line is HadCRUT NH value, not global.

      Obviously we can’t take such statements as the lead in text saying “global” at face value. Imagine if a climate skeptic made a graph like this. We’d be excoriated.

      What needs to be done is to create a graph that shows what this would have looked like had Mann not cherry picked the NH and presented it on a graph with the text “Global temperature rise…”.

      # # #

      Monckton on Mann is worth a read too (and even back to SLR topic in part)

  3.  D  C o t t o n  on 24/03/2014 at 10:21 am said:

    Sorry if OT but this is important.

    Skeptical Science team member Neal J King writes on Lucia’s Blackboard, referring to thermodynamic equilibrium: “a transfer of energy δE between two sub-components, j = 1 and j = 2, will change neither E_total nor, to 1st order, S_total”

    Yes, and that is exactly what happens when there is a thermal gradient such that the difference in mean kinetic energy per molecule (temperature) exactly matches the negative of the difference in mean gravitational potential energy per molecule.

    You can see this in the second stage of the four molecule experiment: when thermodynamic equilibrium is attained we have homogeneous entropy (which must take PE into account) and every collision involves molecules with equal KE, and so KE for the system does not change, but is different per molecule at different altitudes. Similar happens in diffusion in a horizontal plane – KE of all molecules approaches homogeneity. But in a vertical plane you have to remember that KE changes because PE changes whenever there is a non-zero vertical component in the free path vector between collisions.

    The gravito-thermal effect is blatantly obvious when convection stops in the early pre-dawn hours. It is then that the pre-determined thermal profile has a “supporting temperature” at the base of the troposphere on any planet. That is what explains all the observations on all planets with surfaces, and even planets without surfaces. Temperatures are set based on radiative balance and the gravito-thermal gradient.

    The probability of these thermal gradients being so close to the -g/Cp value on all planets with significant tropospheres just because of some assumed warming by the Sun (whose radiation barely reaches some planetary surfaces) is absolutely infinitesimal. The evidence for the gravito-thermal gradient is blatantly obvious everywhere, as is the theory behind it.

    And as for radiation from carbon dioxide supposedly helping the Sun to attain greater maximum temperatures each day (despite the Second Law) or even just slowing radiative cooling – so what? Oxygen and nitrogen slow non-radiative cooling and outnumber carbon dioxide 2,500:1. Radiation from carbon dioxide (with its limited frequencies) is like a picket fence (with most of its pickets missing) standing up against a torrent of full spectrum radiation from the surface. The mean temperature of carbon dioxide molecules in Earth’s troposphere is far colder than the mean temperature of oxygen and nitrogen molecules colliding at the boundary with surface molecules. Rates of cooling depend on temperature gaps, so think!

    But arguing with lukes and warmists is like playing chess with a pidgeon. No matter how good a player I am, the pigeon knocks over the pieces, craps on the board and struts around looking victorious.

  4. Andy on 27/03/2014 at 11:49 am said:

    From the Wikipedia page for Marshall

    “Politically, the Marshall Islands is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, with the US providing defense, funding grants, and access to social services. Having few natural resources, the islands’ wealth is based on a service economy, as well as some fishing and agriculture, with a large percentage of the islands’ gross domestic product coming from United States aid. ”

    So it’s not hard to see why they have the begging bowl out again.

  5.  D  C o t t o n  on 29/03/2014 at 6:54 pm said:

    This is where we can pinpoint the key error in the radiative greenhouse conjecture promulgated by NASA, the IPCC et al …

    In the energy budgets (such as NASA’s here) they combine “Sunlight absorbed + IR back radiation” with components of 47.9% and 100% respectively. In other words, they are assuming that there is not only a warming effect from back radiation, but it is also just over twice the warming effect of the Sun. Hence, somehow the atmosphere supposedly multiplies the effect of the Sun by more than a factor of three.

    Now, they actually need to work with this combined amount of radiation (147.9% of incident solar radiation at top of atmosphere, or more than double the 70.3% that is not reflected) because that’s the only way they can get a realistic surface temperature when they use the total radiation figure in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation.

    However, the Stefan-Boltzmann equation is based on the assumption that the target (in this case the internal surface) acts as a true black or grey body which is not transparent to radiation and can only have its temperature raised if the radiative flux is sufficient and the source is hotter than itself, because otherwise entropy would decrease.

    Sadly about two-thirds of this combined radiation comes from a much colder atmosphere, and so doesn’t count in the process of raising surface temperatures.

    And even more sadly, the real surface that we are talking about, and which affects our temperature records, is a thin layer of less than 1 centimetre in depth which, for about 70% of Earth’s surface, is water. That 1cm thin layer of water is almost completely transparent, unlike a black or grey body, so most of the solar radiation (the only radiation that can warm) is passing straight through that thin layer. The weak back radiation doesn’t make it past the first molecule it strikes, from which it is immediately re-emitted.

    What it is really being warmed (to a much lower mean temperature) is the ocean thermocline which (as you can see here) extends quite a few metres beneath that one centimetre thin surface layer, and has a mean temperature roughly 8 to 10 degrees cooler.

    So if you get a gut feeling there’s something wrong in the NASA calculations, let me assure you that you are right.

  6. Alexander K on 30/03/2014 at 1:27 pm said:

    I have a good head for heights, never feel queasy due to motion sickness or any abrupt change of direction, but D Cotton’s sudden jumping on to a thread, any thread seems to do him, and trying to wrench it into a totally new direction can almost make me feel a bit odd. I have little idea of what he’s on about, but most of the people that I regard with some respect in the world of sciencey sorta stuff seem to think his theories are a bit of an outlier, to put it politely. I really wouldn’y know, but I wish he’d take his shouty sermons somehere else.
    Anyway, the politicians from the Marshall Islands appear to be trying on the wonderful ‘big warmy-warmy come and big seas will swamp us’ stuff that many other island nations in need of some extra cash have also tried on.
    I get a bit tired of people who cast all Western industrialists as evil despoilers of what once was a perfect world and totally responsible for buggering-up another little piece of paradise. At least we know the Maldives are safe from going under the tide and their new airport, built right on the beach, must be open for the new Summer season for tourism.

  7.  D o u g .  C o t t o n  on 31/03/2014 at 12:57 pm said:

    It’s cash for lies: the truth is that the Radiative Greenhouse is smashed by radiation itself:

    There is no two-way radiation involved when a black metal disc just under the surface of water is receiving solar radiation from the Sun. Its temperature is raised by the hotter Sun. Its temperature is not raised by back radiation from a colder atmosphere, because that would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    Back radiation does not melt frost in the shade of a tree, but the Sun would if you cut down the tree. But the IPCC and NASA claim that the intensity of back radiation is greater than that of solar radiation reaching the surface.

    Every one-way transition of radiation is a completed, independent process which must (on its own) obey the Second Law. To claim that there is some net reverse process (such as the black disc warming the water which then evaporates and, days later, releases energy when it rains, is absurd. How can the first process of one-way radiation “know” that will happen in the future? What does happen is that the back radiation is pseudo scattered with each photon resonating and only ever temporarily raising electron energy (between quantum energy states) in the first molecule it strikes. That electron energy is not thermal energy which takes the form of kinetic energy mostly in the far heavier neutrons and protons. In other words, the energy never gets from the electrons to the nucleus.

    So here’s how to get energy from back radiation:

    Build a model toy train. Place a black disc under water in the tender (coal car) and, at night, the back radiation will warm the black disc (being still as intense as solar radiation in the day) and the water will boil and thus be able to be used to drive a miniature steam engine that makes the train go around, and around, and around .. the track.

    You could make a fortune patenting this process scaled up to light up a city at night. /sarc

    But, until you do, I’ll rest my case.

    • Doug, you’re spamming us with these off-topic comments. I’m putting you on permanent moderation. Your comments won’t be published unless they are on the topic of the post. I know you’ll understand. Thanks. – Richard Treadgold

  8. Magoo on 31/03/2014 at 1:39 pm said:

    Apparently NZ is supposed to be facing a half metre sea level rise at the end of the century according to the witchdoctors at the IPCC – I wonder when it’s going to start:



  9. Alexander K on 01/04/2014 at 8:44 am said:

    The failure of NIWA staffers to do simple arithmetic is staggering! How on earth can they arrive at 1 metre SLR (I always have to remind myself that that is NOT a camera) by the end of this century when all the metrics tell us that SLR is decellerating?
    They are full-on alarmists, which is apalling for scientists paid from the public purse. They ARE paid to be objective at least, what happened to that?

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