Dr. John Happs
Despite alarmist claims of “catastrophic global warming”, there is no empirical evidence to confirm that or any acceleration in global sea level rise. Notwithstanding this lack of evidence many people, often those with vested interests, still cling to the alarmist beliefs that catastrophic sea level rise is imminent.
If you live on an overpopulated island with high unemployment, limited resources and were already dependent on aid from the outside world, there is one sure-fire strategy for bringing in extra money. This involves ignoring the lack of empirical evidence for any acceleration in global sea level rise or increase in extreme weather whilst taking the following steps:
* Blame successful, developed nations such as Australia for producing (trivial) emissions of carbon dioxide. This can then be attributed to imaginary dangerous global warming, sea level rise and more extreme weather.
* Demand compensation for damage sustained as a result of (imaginary) sea level rise or demand financial aid for climate mitigation schemes.
* Rely on gullible politicians from developed nations to believe the dangerous anthropogenic global warming and sea level rise alarmism for which there is no empirical evidence.
* Sit back and wait for taxpayer money to arrive from developed nations.
But then, leaders from a number of Pacific and Indian Ocean islands don’t need me to outline this strategy since the process is already underway with representatives from various island groups having met recently to sign the following Boa Agreement in Nauru.
“We reaffirm that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the people of the Pacific and our commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended the meeting where the Boa Agreement was signed, although Australian personnel (wisely) would not support a statement from small island states, calling for countries to “urgently accelerate” reductions in carbon (dioxide) emissions.
According to contributing economics editor Judith Sloan, neither would Australian representatives go along with the request from Tuvalu’s Prime Minister to cease any expansion of coalmining in Australia. (The Weekend Australian, August 24-25, 2019, P22)
Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, when pressed by journalists to name the country that would not commit to reduce its carbon (dioxide) emissions, said that a country “starting with a capital A” had objected. Mr Sopoaga said:
“The issues are so critical for leaders of smaller island states because of their vulnerability to climate change.”
“We appealed to Forum leaders to endorse [the statement] so we can walk the talk.”
Most of the Pacific Island Forum members called for the United States to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement but the Australian delegation (sensibly) did not support this either.
That aside, Foreign Minister Marise Payne appears to be serious about “tackling climate change” in the Pacific saying:
“We are very focused on our engagement on climate in the region.”
How focused? Well the Australian government is helping to pay for projects in the Pacific through a multi-billion dollar fund that Marise Payne says:
“Will stream climate adaptation and resilience through its investment in energy, in transport, in communications and in water, reflects the priority we place on these issues.”
The core issue of the climate change/alarmist debate is that human induced emissions of atmospheric carbon dioxide are the “key and controllable” driver of our global climate. This claim ignores all other natural forces and cycles that have guided our climate over billions of years as evidenced in our geological history. It has also precipitated a general demand that all countries reduce their carbon dioxide emissions whilst simultaneously paying compensation to those countries claiming to be threatened by the (non-existent) climatic effects of “anthropogenic global warming”.
Forum members haven’t been slow in demanding action, starting with Vanuatu. This island country is located in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising around 80 volcanic islands stretching over 1,200 kilometres. It is home to more than 250,000 people and many of the islands are less than 1 metre above sea level.
The Vanuatu government said it would look into the possibility of taking legal action against fossil fuel industries and their country of origin because they are the cause of climate change and sea level rise.
Well good luck with that since a court of law will demand empirical evidence rather than opinion to support that particular claim.
Vanuatu’s foreign minister, Ralph Regenvanu, said he was:
“Putting the fossil fuel industry and the states that sponsor it on notice that the climate loss and damages ravaging Vanuatu will not go unchallenged”.
He added: “My government is now exploring all avenues to utilise the judicial system in various jurisdictions – including under international law – to shift the costs of climate protection back onto the fossil fuel companies, the financial institutions and the governments that actively and knowingly created this existential threat to my country.”
Vanuatu’s politicians are not alone in blaming economically successful nations for (imaginary) climate problems.
Tuvalu (once known as the Ellice Islands) is made up of 9 small atolls and reef islands in the South Pacific, with its highest point about 5 metres above sea level. It lies mid-way between Australia and Hawaii and has a population of around 11,000.
As far back as 2003 Tuvalu’s Prime Minister told the United Nations that the westerners were causing the seas to drown his home, saying:
“The threat is real and serious, and is of no difference to a slow and insidious form of terrorism against us.”
Tuvalu’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tavau Teii made a speech on climate change at a meeting of the United Nations in New York in which he claimed:
“Tuvalu is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change so we are seeking new funding arrangements to protect us from the impacts of climate change … Rather than relying on aid money we believe that the major greenhouse polluters should pay for the impacts they are causing.”
Presumably that would include Australia.
Sixteen years later Tuvalu still hasn’t been submerged but Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga (predictably) implied that it was just a matter of time:
“Tuvalu’s future at current warming is already bleak. Any further temperature increase will spell the total demise of Tuvalu.”
Current warming? Total demise of Tuvalu?
Apparently nobody had toldEnele Sopoaga there has been no global temperature rise for at least the last 20 years, no increase in extreme weather and no evidence that Tuvalu is about to go under the waves.
But you have to admire both persistence and guile. In 2015, an obviously tearful Tuvalu delegate at the Copenhagen climate jamboree, Ian Fry, lamented over the threat of rising sea levels saying: “I woke up this morning crying, and that’s not easy for a grown man to admit … The fate of my country rests in your hands.”
As one might expect, the Copenhagen delegates loudly applauded Fry although it wasn’t revealed that Tuvalu wasn’t his country at all. In fact he was a lawyer, specialising in island-nation advocacy and an ex-Greenpeace liason officer from Queanbeyan.
Tuvalu is a nation poorly equipped for modern living. Water is a scarce resource and its accumulating waste is also becoming a major problem.
For the 3 years to 2018, Australian aid to Tuvalu, courtesy of taxpayers, was $24 million. Not bad for an island group with a population of around 11,000.
But here is the good news (or maybe not) for Tuvalu politicians.
Research conducted in 2010 by Arthur Webb and Paul Kench used aerial photographs and satellite imagery to show that 23 out of 27 Pacific Islands were either unchanged or had actually grown. Webb and Kench reported:
“That rather gloomy prognosis for these nations is incorrect … It has been thought that as the sea level goes up, islands will sit there and drown. But they won’t. The sea level will go up and the island will start responding.”
They specifically pointed out that the islands of Tuvalu are among those that have grown, assisted by accumulated coral debris and sediment. They noted:
“We have now got the evidence to suggest that the physical foundation of these countries will still be there in 100 years, so they perhaps do not need to flee their country.”
The evidence from Webb and Kench is supported by evidence from other experts on sea level such as Dr. Cliff Ollier who says:
“Graphs of sea level for twelve locations in the southwest Pacific show stable sea level for about ten years over the region. The data are compared with results from elsewhere, all of which suggest that any rise of global sea level is negligible.”
Professor Nils-Axel Mörner is arguably the world’s foremost expert on sea-level measurement with around 650 publications on the topic. He headed the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Department at Stockholm University and has studied sea level throughout his long career.
In an interview with science reporter Alex Reihmuth, Mörner said:
“Climate and sea level science has been completely politicized and hijacked by an activist agenda and has become a “quasi religion”.
He added: “Over the past 200 years the sea level has not changed very much. Over the past 50 to 70 years it has been absolutely stable”.
The above plot shows best estimates of post-glacial sea level rise, deduced from various localities around the world.
After observing how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has systematically abused climate science for its political/ideological ends, Mörner called into question the IPCC’s prognosis on future sea-level rise and how this contradicts what recognised experts in the area, with no vested interest, have documented.
Mörner reported to the UK House of Lords how genuine experts on sea level refuted IPCC claims of rapidly rising levels and that island nations could be inundated. Mörner said:
“There is a total absence of any recent ‘acceleration in sea level rise’ as often claimed by IPCC and related groups … So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it.”
There are 34 peer-reviewed, published papers that point to little or no sea level rise detection and no indication of an anthropogenic/carbon dioxide signal. These can be located at:
Research by Webb and Kench also found that Tuvalu gained 73 hectares of land and, of the 101 islands, more than 70 had actually grown.
Despite media hype about rising sea level and vanishing land, observations by Dr. Gennadii Donchyts from the Deltares Research Institute in the Netherlands show that:
“Between 1985 and 2015 around 173,000 square kilometers (67,000 square miles) of water were transformed into land and 115,000 square kilometers (44,000 square miles) of water shifted to dry land. That’s a net gain of land area the size of Lake Michigan.”
Tony Thomas succinctly lays out the real problems faced by Tuvalu residents:
“Concerning atoll erosion, over-fishing of beaked reef fish and mining of sand, gravel and coral for Western-style house construction are primary causes. Other ‘bads’ are denuding of beach vegetation for fuel, asphalting of roads, and urban drift to the main island Funafuti.
(Funafuti is only two-thirds the size of London’s Hyde Park, but includes a 1500m air-strip). Waste and waste-water disposal are other serious issues. Above all, having lots of children in a seriously limited habitat is bound to create an environmental mess. The fertility rate in Tuvalu is 3.11 children per woman, compared with Australia, 1.78.”
Now one might be forgiven for thinking that islands, about to be submerged by rising seas could be purchased at fire-sale prices. Apparently this isn’t the case.
Consider the cost of an island in the Vanuatu group, South Pacific, also about to be submerged by rising seas, according to Vanuatu’s foreign minister, Ralph Regenvanu. He too has referred to the threat of sea level rise and the “climate loss and damages ravaging Vanuatu.”
Lataro Island covers 700 acres and comes with an airstrip. This could be yours for 10 million USD with a lease until 2082.
Malvanua Island, Vanuatu, South Pacific covers 26 acres and could be yours for 2 million USD. (leasehold)
Pilotin Island, Vanuatu, South Pacific covers 335 acres and could be yours for 2 million USD.
In fact never has land about to be submerged, according to Vanuatu politicians and other alarmists, been so expensive.
Perhaps there are islands to be found at give-away prices in the Indian Ocean, such as the Maldives group. After all, there are more than 1,200 islands in this group and not one of them has an elevation of more than 2 metres above sea level.
Curiously, this “soon to be submerged” group of islands, is in the process of constructing 11 new regional airports and they will spend $500 million on a complex that includes an 18-hole floating golf course.
And what are we expected to pay for an island in the “soon- to-disappear” Maldives group?
Nakacha Huraa Island covers 29 acres and could be yours for 11 million USD.
Keraamithaa Island covers 103 acres and could be yours for 10 million USD.
Kuramaadhoo Island covers 44 acres and could be yours for 6 million USD.
Little wonder that Professor Nils-Axel Mörner sent the following letter to Maldives President Nasheed:
October 20, 2009
To: President Mohammed Nasheed of the Maldives
From: Nils-Axel Mörner, Stockholm, Sweden
You have recently held an undersea Cabinet meeting to raise awareness of the idea that global sea level is rising and hence threatens to drown the Maldives. This proposition is not founded in observational facts and true scientific judgements.
Therefore, I am most surprised at your action and must protest its intended message.
In 2001, our research group found overwhelming evidence that sea level was by no means in a rising mode in the Maldives, but had remained quite stable for the last 30 years ..”
“I have written to you twice without reply. Your people ought not to have to suffer a constant claim that there is no future for them on their own islands. This terrible message is deeply inappropriate, since it is founded not upon reality but upon an imported concept, which lacks scientific justification and is thus untenable. There is simply no rational basis for it.”
Other researchers have confirmed previous studies of island resilience and growth. See: Kench, McLean, Owen, Tuck and Ford: Storm-deposited coral blocks. A mechanism of island genesis, Tutaga Island, Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu.
As Dr. Murray Ford, from the University of Auckland, notes:
“While the effect on particular islands of climate-induced changes will vary, there is plenty of evidence to suggest these islands are more resilient than commonly thought.”
Politicians around the world have already wasted trillions of dollars on useless mitigation schemes in the naive belief they can control both sea level and the climate of a planet.
Unfortunately, some Australian politicians might also believe that a few million more taxpayer dollars wasted on preventing non-sinking islands from sinking is only a drop in the ocean.
Dr. John Happs M.Sc.1st Class; D.Phil. John has an academic background in the geosciences with special interests in climate, and paleoclimate. He has been a science educator at several universities in Australia and overseas and was President of the Western Australian Skeptics for 25 years.