Warnings of cataclysmic rises in sea-level were a favorite scare tactic of climate activists in the 90’s, however, they have fallen out of favor as predictions consistently failed to materialize, especially during the recent relatively high temperatures of 2007. Sea-level threats have been replaced largely by CO2 warnings, precisely because it is a science that is less intuitive, less understood, and harder to quantify. Most people lose self-confidence in their reasoning ability when presented with a complex subject and are more likely to turn their affairs over to perceived “experts” in the field. This is why I’m surprised that the current Energy Secretary recently reverted to the former method at the fifth summit of the Americas.
Dr. Steven Chu warned the attendees about an imminent rise in sea levels so severe, that it would result in some of the Caribbean islands disappearing beneath the sea (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/2009/04/19/energy-secretary-offers-dire-global-warming-prediction/). Dr. Chu cited IPCC data to support his predictions, which is extremely surprising if you have followed the IPCC’s track record. In 2007, this UN group predicted significant temperature increases for 2008, followed by larger increases in 2009. Their predictions have been grossly incorrect. So bad, in fact, that their predictions have been quietly revised downward to decrease the size of the error. That the Energy Secretary would use such suspect data in a speech directed toward the entire western hemisphere is revealing. Either Dr. Chu is not aware that his supporting data are incorrect, or he is counting on the fact that his audience doesn’t know it. In either case, this is a good opportunity to learn about the science at the foundation of the sea-level theories, measuring polar ice.
The following article explains the methods used to determine the quantity of ice at the poles and puts into perspective the challenges faced by scientists in this corner of the field. It’s an excellent read for anyone who wishes to become conversant in this aspect of climate science.