The NC sea level rise saga: mid-week update

This story is moving rapidly – sadly mostly in the wrong direction.

• The NC senate passed a slightly modified version of the houses bill TuesdayThe senates version states “rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise.”

• Actavist climate denier and real estate investor John Droz, Jr. has been making blog posts across the web and found his way to denier mecca when he landed at Watt’s Up With That. I’ll debunk some of the countless falsehoods in his piece later this week. His piece is the same climate change denier folly you’ve heard before, although the dozens of sycophatic comments are worth a glance (if you are looking for adulation on the web, I know exactly what you need to do!).

• WURL ran a short piece on John and his role in the state’s nutty sea level rise legislation. John says he isn’t paid for his work; “No one has paid me a dime. I have no agenda here to promote anybody’s belief. I certainly have opinions.” But it doesn’t take a cynic to guess why a coastal real estate investor who teaches a ”widely acclaimed” course on “How to Succeed in Real Estate Investing” would be opposed to acknowledging the reality of sea level rise and it’s threat to our coastal communities (and to the value of coastal real estate).

• WURL also had a nice scoop in releasing an internal memo from “NC-20” an industry climate change denial group that is lobbying the NC legislature.  The memo includes gems like:

“Bottom Line: we got everything we asked for”  ”We got a commitment to totally abandon any reference to accelerated SLR (sea level rise).”

“The underlying problem is that the one meter sea level rise is a myth promoted by manmade global warming advocates based on expectations of melting ice.”

Really, who would be crazy enough to think that heat would melt ice…

• Inside Climate News has a piece wondering why (unlike states in the southeastern US) California communities not only accept that the earth is warming and sea level is rising, but are actively planing adaptations for these challenges.

In California, officials in coastal cities are becoming increasingly aware of the potential impacts of climate change, and they’re preparing to deal with them.

Not so in Virginia, where even the words “sea level rise” and “climate change” are verboten. Earlier this year, state lawmakers found they could not use those phrases in requesting a study on potential impacts on Virginia’s coastal cities. Reporter Scott Harper of the Virginian-Pilot said Republicans objected, fearing it would stir up conservative activists, some of whom believe such terms are liberal code words.

And in North Carolina, officials are hiding their heads in what comedian Stephen Colbert called the “soon-to-be-underwater sand.”

• Finally, the Miami Herald ran a superb editorial on Monday on the sea level rise science shenanigans going on in NC and other states, including Florida and Texas.

It must be frustrating for our guys in Tallahassee. The governor and the legislative leadership have made it plenty clear that they have no use for this global warming stuff. Yet climate scientists keep dumping water on Florida’s future.

The latest damper comes from Climate Central, which just published two papers in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters, warning that due to global warming and rising sea levels, 3.7 million Americans reside in areas with an escalating risk of storm surge and coastal flooding. Half of them are in Florida. South Florida comes out looking particularly soggy.

Last year, Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions warned that rising sea levels will back up drainage canals, inundate roads, farms and low-lying neighborhoods, cause sewage systems and septic tanks to fail and inject salt water into water wells.

Obviously, something needs to be done. About those damn scientists, of course. Not global warming.

North Carolina has its own novel way of dealing with troublesome eggheads and their talk of coastal flooding. A bill was approved in a state Senate committee last week that would require the state’s Division of Coastal Management to use “historic data,” not these global warming projections, to predict sea levels. Developers had been upset by a 2010 report from the Coastal Resources Commission advising state officials to prepare for a sea level increase of up to 55 inches by 2100. Not good news for coastal developers looking for loans and flood insurance. But developers have clout. And scientists don’t.

9 Responses to “The NC sea level rise saga: mid-week update”

  1. Rob Painting says:

    The great irony is that if the West Antarctic ice sheet disintegrates and is the dominant contributor to future sea level rise, as previous interglacial sea level rise suggests, than the east coast of North America is going to cop it worse than anywhere else in the world.

    The non-uniformity of sea level rise is something that is constantly overlooked when discussing this topic.

    • Dave Burton says:

      Good news, Rob. Even the alarmist IPCC’s TAR noted, “It is now widely agreed that major loss of grounded ice and accelerated sea level rise [from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet] are very unlikely during the 21st century.”

      • Rob Painting says:

        Dave, this may have escaped your notice, but I’m referring to up-to-date scientific research, not an IPCC report over a decade old. Things have moved on quite a bit since then.

  2. Dave Burton says:

    Prof. Bruno, I posted the following point-by-point reply to your previous blog post on this topic more than two days ago, but it still hasn’t appeared on your blog. Are you censoring your blog, to prevent disagreement with you, or are you just on vacation?

    The 5 or 6 “claims” below are quoted directly from your previous blog post.

    BTW, here’s one more reference that I should have included in that reply, regarding the folly of relying on Rahmstorf & Vermeer’s sea level prediction methods:



    There certainly is a lot of confusion about sea level rise, but it’s the Climate Movement activists, not the supporters of the bill, who are confused. The purpose of the bill is to require that regulatory policy conform to actual scientific data, rather than activists’ political agendas.

    1. Claim: “These rapid increases in sea level are – as you might have guessed – caused by the rapid melting of glaciers.”

    Wrong. The big rise in sea level in prehistoric times was due to the melting of enormous ice sheets which covered much of the globe, as far south as today’s New York City. It was not due to the tiny changes in advance and retreat of glaciers that we see these days.

    There are only two places left where there are really large amounts of water locked up in grounded ice: Antarctica and Greenland. Neither will melt anytime soon.

    Even the alarmist IPCC’s TAR noted, “It is now widely agreed that major loss of grounded ice and accelerated sea level rise [from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet] are very unlikely during the 21st century.” (The larger East Antarctic Ice Sheet is the coldest place on earth, and hasn’t melted in millions of years.)

    Nor is Greenland a cause for worry. Greenland is colder now than it was in the 1930s and 1940s, and much colder than during the Medieval Warm Period (~800-1100 yrs ago), neither of which saw catastrophic sea level rise from any Greenland ice sheet “tipping point.”

    2. Claim: “Greenhouse gas emissions are causing sea level to rise via “thermal expansion” (warming a liquid increases it’s volume) and by melting mountain glaciers. Until human activities increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere, global sea level had been relatively stable for several thousand years…”

    Wrong. Although the average rate of sea level rise increased as the Little Ice Age ended, ALL of the acceleration in rate of sea level rise occurred BEFORE there was a substantial anthropogenic CO2 contribution. The big increase in atmospheric CO2 levels over the last 3/4 century has not resulted in ANY acceleration in the rate of sea level rise.

    The TAR noted the “observational finding of no acceleration in sea level rise during the 20th century.”

    If you chart sea levels from coastal tide gauge data until 18 years ago, but then switch to using satellite data, you’ll create an illusion of acceleration for the last 18 years.

    Moreover, although thermal expansion does cause satellite-measured mid-ocean sea level to rise, it does not necessarily cause coastal sea level to rise. If deep-ocean water were to expand, it would, indeed, affect coastal sea levels. But when surface water warms, it rises in place, like ice, and its displacement is unaffected, so it does not affect coastal sea levels.

    3. Claim: “The rate of sea level rise appears to be accelerating”

    Wrong. Both tide gauges records and satellites show NO statistically significant acceleration over the last 3/4 century. The best studies show either linear trend or a slight deceleration.

    Church & White (2006) claimed to have measured a slight “20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise.” But they admitted “no 20th century acceleration has previously been detected” by other researchers, and ALL of the acceleration they detected was before 1925 — i.e., before there was much anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere.

    In 2009, they posted updated data to their web site. I applied their regression analysis method to the new data (minimum-variance unbiased estimator quadratic fit). Result: DECELERATION.

    I told Drs. Church & White about it. Dr. Church replied (June 18, 2010):

    “…thank you … For the 1901 to 2007 period, again we agree with your result and get a non-significant and small deceleration.”

    In fact, though the deceleration for the 1901-2007 period was slight, in both datasets the deceleration since 1925 was much more noticeable.

    In 2011, Church and White released a third data set. This one shows a very slight acceleration in sea level rise after 1925, though much smaller in magnitude than the deceleration seen in their other data sets. The post-1925 acceleration in this data set, if it continued to 2080, would add just 0.8 inches of sea level rise, compared to a linear projection. See the last three graphs here:

    4. Claim: “There is a lot of variation in the rate of sea level rise.”

    Right! In fact, at about 1/4 of the GLOSS-LTT tide gauges, sea level is FALLING, rather than rising.

    5a. Claim: “How much sea level rise should we expect this century? … Observed sea level rise is tracking at the upper range of model predictions…”

    Wrong. Your fig. 6 conflates tide gauge and satellite measurements, creating the ILLUSION of acceleration where none actually exists. If you measure sea level trends at two different locations, you’ll generally get two different results (as inferred by your claim #4). If you switch from one to the other, you can create the illusion of either acceleration or deceleration. (Don’t feel too bad. The IPCC made the same blunder, and still got a Nobel Prize: )

    Additionally, a graph of just 40 years is insufficient to discern long term trends, because there are cyclical forces at work on the order of 60 years. Douglas (1995) concluded that 50 years is a bare minimum; Jevrejeva et al (2008) and Scafetta say 60 years. Believe it or not, even the severely flawed 2010 CRC Science Panel report admitted (p.6) that, “tide gauges [which] don’t extend back in time more than 50 years [make] it difficult to resolve changes in the rate of rise over the decades” (though they then went on to use a 24 year record in preference to an available 75 year record)

    5b. Claim: “An alternative way to predict future sea level rise is from the known relationship between sea level and global temperature from the recent and distant past (Vermeer 2009)…”

    Wrong. The Rahmstorf/Vermeer approach has been thoroughly discredited, and that Fig. 7 graph is nonsense. If you look at real tide gauge data from the best tide gauges, it looks nothing at all like that. E.g.,

    Tom Moriarty has done a particularly comprehensive job of demolishing that nonsense:

    The bottom line is simply this: mankind has been driving up CO2 levels substantially for about 3/4 century, and the result has been no increase at all in the rate of sea level rise. This bill simply requires that before regulations are promulgated which would cost coastal communities billions of dollars, there should be scientific data which justifies them.

  3. Bruce Caron says:

    I found this on the web… I believe it’s still true. “According to a search of Google Scholar, John Droz, Jr. does not appear to have published any articles in peer-reviewed journals on the subject of climate or any other topic.”

    I don’t expect he will be presenting at the next meeting of the American Geophysical Union, nor at any other professional scientific meeting this year.

    As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

    • Dave Burton says:

      Bruce, John Droz is a physicist, who is well-qualified to understand the mechanics of sea level rise. Like me, he’s one of NC-20′s science advisers, and he’s been very, very generous with his time.

      W/r/t peer-review, I’ll defer to Dr. Bruno:

      Now, instead of attacking the messenger, let’s talk about what matters, okay?

      The bottom line is simply this: mankind has been driving up CO2 levels substantially for about 3/4 century, and the result has been no increase at all in the rate of sea level rise.

      The purpose of the NC’s HB 819 is to require that regulatory policy conform to actual scientific data, rather than activists’ political agendas. It simply requires that before regulations are promulgated which would cost coastal communities billion$ of dollar$, there should be scientific data which justifies them.

      That is so obviously the right thing to do that HB 819 passed the NC Senate with a nearly 3-to-1 bipartisan majority.

      You should support it, too. Everyone who believes that public policy regarding sea level should be driven by geophysical science rather than political science should support this bill.

      • John Bruno says:

        Dave, John is not a “physicist”. John has an undergraduate degree in physics (or claims to). This does not make you a “physicist” any more than having a BS in Biology makes you a “physician”. A physicist is an individual that has completed graduate work in physics (i.e., has a PhD) and is current working professionally as a physicist, i.e., asking and answering questions in the scientific discipline of physics in the academic peer-reviewed literature. By this or any other reasonable standard, John Droz is neither a physicist nor a scientist. He is a self-described real estate investor.

      • Dave Burton says:

        No, John B., a BS (or any other degree) in biology doesn’t make you a physician, it makes you a biologist.

        Someone with a degree in physics is a physicist.

        And, BTW, any degree in physics much better equips someone to understand the mechanics of sea level rise than does a degree, even a PhD, in biology. (But that doesn’t mean a biologist can’t become expert on the subject of sea level. If someone’s education ends with his formal schooling, he’s a pretty sorry scholar.)

        What I find annoying is that people who obviously understand the topic less well than John D. does (and who often have less relevant academic credentials, too), resort to ad hominem attacks on him, instead of bothering to try to learn from him. Very often the people who do that don’t understand even the most fundamental principles about the topic, but they’re more interested in attacking someone who challenges their suppositions than in learning.

  4. John Droz, jr. says:


    I received a BS in Mathematics and a BS in Physics from Boston College. I also received an MS in Physics from Syracuse University. I worked as a physicist at General Electric, Aerospace Electronics Department.

    One of the several activities I spent my personal time on, was real estate investing. I also play & teach golf, play & teach bridge, provide computer consulting, etc., etc.

    Over the last 30 years the majority of my time has been spent on environmental issues (like improving water quality standards in NYS, like implementing adequate rules for commercial water extraction in NYS). None of my efforts have been paid by anyone.

    The theme for these 30+ years has been that our environmental and energy policies should be science-based. Unfortunately few people understand what “science” actually is, or what applying the Scientific Method, really means.

    Since you know my email address, it would be polite if you would ask me about any other questions you have, before passing on a misunderstanding.

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