Global warming : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Here is an interesting article on global warming.

Falling sea level upsets theory of global warming By Mark Chipperfield in Tuvalu and David Harrison in London /et/00/8/6/wsea06.html THE 11,000 inhabitants of a tiny Pacific country that was predicted to vanish under water because of the effects of global warming have been given a reprieve because sea levels have begun to fall. In the early 1990s, scientists forecast that the coral atoll of nine islands - which is only 12ft above sea level at its highest point - would vanish within decades because the sea was rising by up to 1.5in a year. However, a new study has found that sea levels have since fallen by nearly 2.5in and experts at Tuvalu's Meteorological Service in Funafuti, the islands' administrative centre, said this meant they would survive for another 100 years. They said similar sea level falls had been recorded in Nauru and the Solomon Islands, which were also considered to be under threat. The release of the data from Tuvalu, formerly part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, will renew scientific debate about climate change and its impact on ocean levels. The island's scientists admitted they were surprised and "a little embarrassed" by the change, which they blame on unusual weather conditions caused by El NiCo in 1997. Hilia Vavae, the Metereological Service's director, said: "This is certainly a bit of a shock for us because we have been experiencing the effect of rising oceans for a long time." Although their country has been saved from imminent engulfment, not all islanders are happy about the change in Tuvalu's fortunes. Residents who once worried about their homes being flooded are now complaining that the lower tides are disrupting their fishing expeditions, making it difficult to moor their boats and navigate low-lying reefs. However, scientists both on and off the island believe such concerns will be short term because the sea level falls are coming to an end and the oceans will soon resume their inexorable rise. The Tuvalu government, a vocal critic of the industrialised world at environmental conferences in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, has said that the result of its research is a "blip" and it is expected to make climate change a major issue when it joins the United Nations next month. Low-lying coral islands such as Tuvalu and the Maldives are among the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels. Most of the world's leading scientists agree that the earth is warming up, caused by carbon dioxide emissions from petrol and the burning of coal. Last month a study by Nasa, the US space agency, found that sea levels were being pushed up by the addition of 50 billion tons of water a year from Greenland's melting ice sheet. Professor Patrick Nunn, head of geography at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and an expert on island formation, said last week that the figures from Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomons were based on inadequate research. He said: "It is a nonsense to try to make predictions about climate change from a data base of only seven years. You need data over a minimum period of at least 30 years. A lot of these sea gauges have been slowly falling over the last five years but that is a short-term trend. Island countries such as Kiribati and Tuvalu remain incredibly vulnerable to sea change. These low-lying islands are between 2,000 and 3,000 years old. They only formed because sea levels fell, allowing a build up of sand and gravel. Now it could go the other way." Ms Vavae is also pessimistic about the future of her country, which last year signed a B#34 million deal to license its domain name - - to an American internet company. She said: "There is no doubt about the impact of climate change on Tuvalu. We already have difficulty planting traditional crops. We've seen more frequent tropical cyclones, more severe droughts and alarming sea level heights during spring tides. "We are still facing the daunting prospect of being one of the first countries to be submerged by sea-level rises related to climate change."

Wait Professor Nunn Do you mean at one time sea levels were higher before there were negative emissions? That must mean the earth was warmer also? Oh my gosh! Could this actually be a natural cycle of the earth. Could it be that driving a car has no effect whatever on the warming of the earth? Could it be that you all would like to pick our pockets with a crisis that doesn't even exist while ignoring the real crisises in your own front yard? Of course if you tell us otherwise we'll believe you because we'll believe anything if it is said with enough feeling.

little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (, October 30, 2000


Strange article, LB. Normally, coral atolls are built by a couple of processes which would tend to keep them above sea level even if the sea level were rising. Coral is, of course, alive. Also, in many areas of the tropics, there is an interesting phenomenon called "oolitic sands". This sand is formed by a process in which CO2 is "shaken" out of its supersaturated condition in the sea water by wave action (sort of like shaking a coke bottle, with the resulting fizz of CO2.

The reduction in the CO2 content means an increase in pH, because the CO2 dissolved in the sea water results in a weak solution of Carbonic acid, which dissolves calcium carbonate. Therefore, when some of the CO2 is shaken out of solution, the result is an environment where calcium carbonate actually precipitates out of the water. The calcium carbonate is not only thus readily available for the coral to utilize for building it's structure, but also can form this oolitic sand. The oolitic sands are tiny little balls of pure calcium carbonate (aka limestone, or calcite), surrounding a nucleus of, typically, a tiny grain of lithic sand, with the calcite arranged in concentric layers, sort of like a hailstone

My point being (finally, you say) a coral atoll is made up of a materia (coral) which is constantly changing. It grows continuously, only to be broken up and eroded by large storms. I would not think that a very gradual rise in sea level would cause a healthy atoll to become submerged. It would simply keep on growing to maintain its relative height above the water level.

I don't know whether sea level is rising or falling. I don't even claim to know whether global warming would cause rising sea levels. It' s possible that global warming could cause increased amounts of snow and glaciation in high latitudes with resultant LOWERING sea levels. Considering science's inability to predict what the bloody WEATHER is going to be more than five hours into the future, the whole thing is very confusing to me.

I'd be most interested to see this study (for one thing, I would be interested in finding out if it was funded by the Kansas Board of Education) to see how it correlates with other studies around the world.

I'd also like to hear the author's explanation, if any, for why sea level has started dropping at such a drastic level.

If I were a resident of Tuvalu, and refused to believe that the lowering sea level is an apparent brief fluctuation, as suggested in your post, LB, rather than being a little bit embarrased, I'd be concerned about why there was such a sea change. Since a lot of atolls are formed where there were once volcanoes above sea level, which then were worn away by wave action, only to be capped/replaced by coral, I'd probably be wondering if there were an increase in volcanic activity, with a possible upcoming eruption.

Nevertheless, I believe that, as your post states, "...scientists both on and off the island believe such concerns will be short term because the sea level falls are coming to an end and the oceans will soon resume their inexorable rise" I also believe, as your post states, "Most of the world's leading scientists agree that the earth is warming up, caused by carbon dioxide emissions from petrol and the burning of coal" If most of these "leading scientists" agree about the relationship between global warming and the burning of fossil fuels, who am I (and who are you) to say they are all wrong?

One more thing the Tuvalu folks should have some concern about is the fact that huge areas of coral reefs, worldwide, are dying. If their coral dies, there island will fall apart and wash away. It is generally assumed that the coral is dying from both increased water temperatures and high pollutant levels in the oceans. Maybe there really is a connection, LB.

Do you really think there is a huge, world wide conspiracy among scientists, politicians, and everyone else, to put forth some huge lie, to cook all the books, and to fool all of the fundamentalists into believing that all our consumeristic habits, and the inability of SOME of us to curb their apparent need to overpopulate the earth? Why would all these folks want to do this, LB? And how do they manage to keep all the "real" scientists from blowing the whistle on them?

Even your own post makes your paranoia seem unusually strong today.


-- jumpoffjoe (, October 30, 2000.

I apologise. I wasn't making myself very clear. As I've stated before I have no doubt that the possiblity of a global rise in temperature is there. In fact, I think this global rise in temperature coyuld very well be a continuation of a cycle that the earth has gone through and will continue to go through. The question that I am debating is the cause. I do not believe the scientists are always in cahoots with the politicians, just that the politicians manipulate scientific Data to suit their current political agenda. There are lot's better reasons not to polute the air than global warming. The highest one being breathing. It is also important to realize that science has on any given day put forth theories and "facts" that were untrue or at best exagerated. How about bloodletting, a flat earth, the debate over diet, and any other number of past mistakes? The answer to your question as to whether I(or you) have the right to question any theory put forth by the scientific community is Darn Right I do! Where would science have been in the last several centuries if someone wouldn't have asked questions. So many scientific discoveries were made by the common man, not scientists. The world always needs people to look at the world with new eyes and to see things in ways no one else has ever seen. I have been studying the case for global warming being caused by emissions and it just doesn't hold water. Scientist are human beings too and I don't think they are above looking at the world through their own prejudices. Yes it is possible that I do the same, but it is also possible that I am right. The simple truth is it doesn't take a doctorate to see the evidence of the natural world. If it did Issak Newton would have never made it with his theory of gravity. It only takes common sense. It has only been in the later part of the century that we have come to believe that traditional education is the same as intelligence. Unfortunately the future discoveries to be made may not be made because of our shortsightedness.

Little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (, October 30, 2000.

If I decide to pursue my doctorate, I can't decide between UCLA or the University of Kansas. Anyone out there who could provide a convincing argument before I start considering how much tuition it would cost? They are both state supported schools, I think. What do I have to do to get a grant?

-- sheepish (, October 30, 2000.

I'm absolutely in agreement with you, LB (better sit down:)

Scientists are often wrong. It could be that global warming is a natural cycle; certainly we've been though it before, in the not so distant past (assuming you believe in geologic timetables). Not so long ago, "leading scientists" were claiming we were returning into the ice ages, as they purportedly had data proving global cooling.

My point was that YOUR article said that "Most of the world's leading scientists agree that the earth is warming up, caused by carbon dioxide emissions from petrol and the burning of coal."

If you give credence to your own post, it seems strange to say that you know better than all these scientists. Sure, it's ok to doubt, but not to claim that they are all wrong, without a whole lot of supporting data.

I also agree that politicias manipulate data produced by scientists. I also know that scientists sometimes manipulate their own data, and certainly their conclusions. I used to work for a scientist, at the US Forest Service, who not only manipulated his own data, but even changed data I had collected, in order to make it fit into his agenda. At least twice that happened.

Nevertheless, I tend to agree with thte conclusions made by the huge preponderance of data being presented on global warming. I could be wrong, but I'll go with the interpretations made by hundreds, if not thousands of scientists on this.

Regardless, there are many, many problems we're having to put up with these days, many of which would not exist if we had a significantly smaller population. Some of them could be corrected by improved efficiency and pollution equipment.. Some could not be corrected in this fashion, unfortunately, and even those that COULD be, are not being corrected FAST enough to keep up with our population growth.

I think that many of the "common men" you describe could be called scientists themselves; perhaps you could, I don't know. It doesn't take a degree in Science to be a scientist.

I still don't understand why you think emissions from fossil fuels don't cause temperature increases. To me it's intuitively obvious. Carbon dioxide tends to allow sunlight to pass through it, but retards the release of heat through radiation from earth to space. It's much like a pane of glass in that regard, hence the term "greenhouse effect". Do you disagree that CO2 tends to cause an increased temperature in this way? Certainly we are, through our phenomenal increase in population, and our phenomenal increase in emissions of CO2 and other "greenhouse gasses" in the process of a grand experiment, with no real understanding of, or protection from, our tinkering around with our environment.

By the way, I think gravity is a long way from being obvious using "common sense". I'll reword that: UNDERSTANDING gravity is not obvious, in fact I don't have a clue. I do understand, for the most part, how gravity AFFECTS things, I just don't understand how it works. Do you? I'd like to know...

-- jumpoffjoe (, October 31, 2000.

The truly interesting qute int this article was the one about seven years data not being enough, you need at least thirty years. Pick your number about how long the earth has existed and tell me thirty years is long enough to predict long term trends and implications of environmental changes. One large volcanic eruption puts enough particulate matter and gasses into the atmosphere to effect global climate changes ( remember Mt Pinatubo). Anyone who claims to make predictions of climate changes based on the limited data now available is just whistling in the wind. Does man have an affect on his environment? You bet. Do we know the long term effects of those changes. No. Thirty years ago scientists were predicting that we'd be out of oil by now, coastal cities like New York would be experiencing floods and other dire consequences of our industrial lifestyle. Where are they now? Do we need to take care of our planet and live more responsibly? yes, we do, but scare tactics based on incomplete data do more harm than good to the cause in the long run.

-- ray (, October 31, 2000.

Ray, you're quite right that a singel event can render all forecasts moot. Nevertheless, I believe it is possible to make at least an "educated guess" about our impact on the environment. And because of this, I think it prudent to start dealing with the issue of global warming. After all, if we wait for more than seven years, or thirty years (you fill it the number), to react to this, we will only be putting ourselves farther away from being able to deal with it.

I don't think that all the warnings are scare tactics. Some of them, perhaps, but not all. If you prefer to wait for "complete data", how long would you think we should wait?

By the way, my neighbor is a recently retired VP from one of the largest US oil companies. He and I were talking about the claim that we were running out of oil back in the early seventies. I thought it was bullshit being used to justify huge profits for oil companies. He says it was an honest mistake, based on the fact that oil companies didn't even count "probable reserves" or "possible reserves", but only counted, and reported, "proven reserves. Based on only proven reserves, we were running out. I don't recall why they changed the way they inventory oil reserves now, sorry.


-- jumpoffjoe (, October 31, 2000.

The answer to this question is easy, I mean the part about global warming even occurring anyway! Talk to the old-timers, or even anyone over the age of 40. My grandmother kept a journal, recorded mundane everyday events, temperatures, snow fall, rain, etc., for 50 years, going back to the late forties, and you can see the temperatures rise and the snowfalls diminish as the years went by. Everyone I talk to about this who is "of an age of wisdom", says the winters were a lot more severe back then, and summers not near as hot and dry. This an example of Garrett county, MD, weather trend, perhaps not the same where you were brought up. Ask your grandparents their opinion, see what they think, my 96 year old Granpap has no doubt to what's happening to the planet, and why. Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (, October 31, 2000.

JOJ wrote:
based on the fact that oil companies didn't even count "probable reserves" or "possible reserves", but only counted, and reported, "proven reserves. Based on only proven reserves, we were running out. I don't recall why they changed the way they inventory oil reserves now, sorry.

Gee, Joe, I would have thought that proven would be the only kind one could honestly count! I wouldn't feel confident depending on "probable" and certainly not on "possible"! I would also speculate that the reason they changed the reporting is that if they only reported what they could PROVE existed, people would actually believe that we CAN run out. Horrors! There might be actual progress in alternative energies replacing fossil fuels. Petroleum would not dominate the market, might even be phased out of use for many things. What a tragedy!

-- Joy Froelich (, October 31, 2000.

JOJ- I fully agree that we should be doing all we can to minimize our effect on the envoronment. But let's not jump to conclusions like those in the latest report covered by the mainstream media last week which predicted global ten to 12 degree temperature rises and sea levels rising up to 3 feet by the end of this century. I've also listened to some very credible scientists speak of increasing glacial cover in areas of the Arctic and long term data showing that we are actually entering another cooling cycle (Ice Age). I don't remember all their data but they made some very sound arguements based on centuries of meteorilogical data from europe and core samples taken from deep in glaciers. Do I totally trust and believe either side, No. Do we need to figure out better ways to utilize cleaner energy sources and make these affordable. Yes. Is it governments role. No. Much money was made a lot of people taking advantages of the Carter admins. tax breaks during the last bout of government intervention in private energy policy and we're not much closer to sustainable energy which is affordable to the masses than we were then. I love $35 -40 a bbl oil because it makes people think about these things in a way that government beurocrats never can. Oil in this country probably still doesn't cost enough to affect the way the majority of the population thinks, and until it does no meaningful change will occur. I'll still do what I can.

-- ray (, November 01, 2000.

I do think that, based on what I've seen and older folks report, the climate is slowly changing -- a little warmer, less extreme cold in the winter. However, around here (central NH) we aren't sure that there really was more snow in the past. Used to be that this land was all cleared farm land, now it's pretty much all wooded again, which cuts the wind, and thus, the snowdrifts. And I really doubt that the lifespan of one person is sufficient time to be sure of a changing climate cycle. But just to throw a monkey wrench in the works, for those of us who believe the Bible, it predicts that in the end times the climate will be much hotter than now. (Read Revelation to see what I'm referring to.) If, as many of us believe, we are approaching the end times, it would not be surprising to see the temperatures slowly climbing. As to the cause, I really don't know. It could be man destroying himself and it could be a 'natural' phenomenon. In either case, it surely won't hurt to reduce our dependency on petroleum products. Probably wouldn't hurt, either, to stop paving over so much land (sod roofs, anyone?), as paved areas are well-known to raise the ambient temperature around them several degrees higher than wooded or grassy areas nearby. Just my two-cents worth.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, November 01, 2000.

Very interesting article on the subject:

Hot & Bothered

-- Joy Froelich (, November 02, 2000.

I lived on Funafuti, Tuvalu from 92-95 and will be back there this Christmas visiting my in-laws. A few things to note about sea level rise in Tuvalu:

The sea level monitor is mounted on the main wharf. While standing on the wharf, you can feel it move when even relatively small ships rub up against it. This is bound to affect the readings a bit. It is also located on the eastern side of the lagoon, which would have higher levels in a westerly wind and lower levels in an easterly wind.

Coastlines are constantly changing. The area where I used to launch my canoe was normally rock, but during new and full moons, a patch of sand that moved up and down the coast with the changes in tides would be there.

In '93 (~September/October?), there was a bit of a flood. Waves were actually washing up on the ocean side near my wife's house, rolling completely over the island, and back down into the lagoon. Locals immediately blamed it on global warming, but apparently it had more to do with what were normally the highest tides of an annual cycle, which were the high point of a 50 year cycle, mixed with waves generated by a storm somewhere off the coast of Hawaii.

The point? The sea level (and the measurement of it) is affected by a huge number of factors beyond just the average air temperature. At the same time that Tuvalu and several other stations recorded drops in the ocean levels, several other stations recorded rises. Storms, the prevailing winds, normal lunar/solar cycles, and movement of the earth's plates all contribute to the ocean's level. While most scientists agree on the existence of the carbon cycle, they are pretty divided on how much effect man has on the cycle. A study released several years ago found that 4 volcanoes (I can't remember which ones) had produced more carbon dioxide than man had in his entire existence on the planet.

-- Steve Beckman (, November 02, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ