“Sea level has been overall rising since the last ice age, with some ups and downs. Sea level has been rising for the past 200 years….Humans are not going to stop sea level rise on the time scale of a few centuries by ceasing emissions of CO2.”

– Judith Curry, “The Blame Game.” Climate Etc. August 14, 2017.

Judith Curry is the personification of “one plus the truth equals a majority.” This esteemed climate scientist and erstwhile professor changed her views from climate alarmism and (government) forced energy transformation, a story told elsewhere.

Climate realism—respecting the science rather than getting ahead of it—is her forte. Curry is a leading foe of (faulty) science emanating from groupthink, false certainty, bad incentives, and half-truths. And amid great physical-science uncertainty where subtle assumptions can drive the result, particularly in a politicized environment like with climate change, the ends should not justify the means.

Her transformation to climate optimism, relatively speaking, has produced a middle view of the climate debate that can be summarized in four major points:

  • Climate is changing and has an anthropogenic (man-made) component, with the enhanced greenhouse effect (other things equal) resulting in a warmer, wetter world with higher sea level.
  • The human influence is modest, not pronounced, with climate models overpredicting warming.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions and rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations have ecological and economic benefits, not only costs.
  • Government mitigation policies will have negligible impacts on climate.

Sea Level Fright

Human-caused sea level rise has been implicated in the destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey in a variety of post mortems. But pre-Harvey, sea level was the scare of the climate lobby to make “climate change” real in ordinary people’s lives.

This seems to be the mantra at Yale Climate Connections, which had these features on their homepage: “Yes. Your Streets are Flooding More ” (August 10), “The Rising Seas of Climate Change ” (August 7), and “Waters Rise, and So Do the Costs of Coastal Insurance ” (August 10).

The same group sent this communication in conjunction with the solar eclipse:

In the hours before and after the eclipse, extra-high tides will occur as a result of the alignment between the sun, Earth, and moon. Those enhanced tides will give us a glimpse of how sea-level rise will affect us – and we want your help to document those tides. The high tides will be visible in many coastal communities, so you can participate even if the eclipse won’t be visible in your region.

Exaggerated sea-level rise was codified with Al Gore’s 2006 prediction of a possible 20-foot increase with the melting or breakoff of Greenland or Antarctica (An Inconvenient Truth: p. 196). Twelve pages follow (pp. 198–209) with glossy photographs showing major areas under water: from southern Florida to San Francisco to Manhattan.

Before/after pictures of The Netherlands is accompanied with the message (p. 203) about how Dutch engineers were designing floating homes.

Enter Judith Curry

A recent blog post by Judith Curry, “The Blame Game,” put the science back into sea level—at least the best research we have now. Yes, sea level is rising, but such is also the natural state of things coming out of the Little Ice Age that ended in the mid-19th century:

Sea level has been rising since the last ice age, with some ups and downs. Sea level has been rising for the past 200 years. The rate of sea level rise during the period ~1925-1960 is as large as the rate of sea level rise the past few decades. Human emissions of CO2 mostly grew after 1950; so, humans don’t seem to be to blame for the early 20th century sea level rise, nor for the sea level rise in the 19th and late 18th centuries. Humans are not going to stop sea level rise on the time scale of a few centuries by ceasing emissions of CO2.

Always meticulous, Curry refers to previous posts at her site Climate Etc. that summarize the peer-reviewed, data-driven literature:

“We need to learn to live with continuing and possibly accelerating sea level rise,” she concluded her post. “The solutions lie in land-use policy and engineering/technology.”


The good news is that sea level rise is much more modest than false prognosticators have led us to believe. Al Gore’s worst case scenario fooled some for a time, but no more.

“I thought sea levels would have risen 20 feet by now thanks to the melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland,” wrote Jasmin Guenette at HuffPost.

Al Gore claimed that this would happen in the ‘near future,’ but thankfully, we’ve been spared so far. In fact, sea levels seem to be rising at maybe three millimetres per year. Twenty feet is over six thousand millimetres, so at this rate, we wouldn’t even be halfway by the year 3017.

Rather than attempt to shave fractions of an inch off of future sea level rise in the distant future, policymakers should keep fossil fuels affordable, plentiful, and reliable to deal with climate and weather events of all kinds. Free-market adaptation, not a futile crusade to ‘stabilize’ climate, is the obvious choice for a free, prosperous world.

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