Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sea Level Decreases since 1993

The image above, from NASA, shows how ocean surface heights have changed from 1993 to now.  1993 to 2008 is the time span, because that is when satellites were used to accurately measure sea levels world-wide.   The key result shown on this map is that the dark blue area off the west coast of North America shows the seas are not rising, instead, they are falling at the rate of about 2 to 3  mm per year.  That is roughly one inch per decade.  

This has, or at least it should have, significance to policy-makers in California who initiated AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and who are currently implementing the regulations pursuant to AB 32.  One of the key drivers of AB 32 was the threat of rising seas and the catastrophic damage to California's coastline.   In fact, just two days ago in Oxnard, California, the California Coastal Commission received a presentation on the horrors of sea level rise.  Those making the presentation were serious, and painted a stark picture.  Unfortunately, the facts as provided above in the image show this is a waste of taxpayer resources.  

A better question to ask is what will those who manage the bays, harbors, and ports do when the sea level continues to fall, and access to those areas is limited?   Harbor dredging companies may find this a boom time, as their services are required more frequently.  

The facts just do not seem to matter to those of the CO2 - is - going - to - kill - us - all  belief.  

Sound public policy is based on facts, not conjecture.  Unsupported conjecture, or wrong conclusions based on falsified data are not appropriate grounds for public policy making.  

This raises an interesting question:  when one is an elected official with responsibility for making public policy, or at least voting on matters of public policy, how does one know which information that is received is valid?   It is interesting to observe this in action.  One putting forth information, and the conclusions drawn from data and analysis, almost always presents his or her qualifications, or pedigree.   Having deep qualifications and experience increases the import of the information conveyed to decision-makers.  Each of us has likely experienced this in a personal way, I know that I have.    But, qualifications and pedigree are not sufficient.  

As an example of qualifications and pedigree being insufficient, Albert Einstein was given a very high level of importance following his publications in relativity.  Few men, before or since, have been given such a high place in the world.  Yet, for all his accolades, his beliefs on quantum mechanics did not match the theories and experimental results of others.  Einstein was noted for saying, "God does not play dice."  This was in reference to the uncertainties, the probabilities, that are a core part of quantum mechanics.   Yet quantum mechanics does work, and is the basis for many electronic gadgets we accept as commonplace today.  

If public policy makers, and private enterprises, proceeded solely on the basis of qualifications and pedigrees, they would have listened to Einstein and not invested resources in communications satellites, military systems, computers, and a host of others that are based in some way on quantum mechanics.   

The parallel to today is the debate over global warming.  On one side, there are the scientists who have qualifications and pedigrees, and the institutions with pedigrees.   These have taken a vastly complex subject, and developed computer models that project dire consequences, indeed, catastrophic consequences from so-called "tipping points."   These "tipping points" are a reference to dumping water from a half-filled bucket, with the handles attached just above the bucket center.  As the bucket is slowly tipped over, the water reaches a point at which the bucket is unstable, and tips over suddenly, causing the water to rush out.  

One of the supposed causes of the "tipping points" is the increase of carbon dioxide, CO2, in the atmosphere, caused by man's burning of fossil fuels.  The projection is that CO2 traps heat from escaping into space, warms the earth and particularly the oceans, the oceans melt the Arctic icecap, then the atmosphere itself warms, this melts the icecaps in Greenland and Antarctica, and the seas rise from all the ice that melts.   

There is another side, with persons having high qualifications and pedigrees, who hold the opposite view from the global warmists.   Known by various labels, my preferred description is knowledgeable climate realist.   A KCR is not taken in by bad science, or by unsupportable conjecture, but examines the claims and projections against factual, observable events.   Thus, when the warmists claim that rising CO2 causes the atmosphere and the oceans to heat up, a KCR looks at the record.  The record clearly shows that the atmosphere sometimes heats up, but many times remains the same, and many times cools down, all while CO2 rises.   At that point, a KCR begins to doubt the warmists.  

Next, a KCR examines the record with respect to the warmists' claims that the oceans are heating up.  This can be measured in at least two ways, one with an array of thermometers or temperature sensors, and the other by sea level change.  Ocean water expands when warmed, and contracts when cooled, as does all water.  The sea level should increase if the ocean warms, and satellites can measure quite accurately the change in sea level over time.  The sea levels are not rising, as may be seen in the image above, except in a few isolated areas.   At this point, a KCR seriously questions the information from the warmists.  

The California policy makers embarked on the wrong road with AB 32.  The seas are not rising, as the deep blue areas off the west coast clearly show.  The laws being implemented to reduce CO2 from California activities are crushing the economy, and with no good justification.    

Roger E. Sowell, Esq. 
Climate Change Attorney

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