Bats Aren’t Bugs

This week’s “Ask a Science Blogger” question is:

I read this article in the NRO, and the author actually made some interesting arguments. ‘Basically,’ he said, ‘I am questioning the premise that [global warming] is a problem rather than an opportunity.’ Does he have a point?…

No. Robbins’ article contains only one fact and that fact is wrong.

Most of his article is airy speculation about how warming will be beneficial, without looking at any of the scientific evidence on the question. He seems to be blithely unaware of stuff that happened the real world, like, oh, New Orleans:

But the waters will not rise so quickly, if they do at all. And if this threatens our cities one would think some form of sea wall would be in order. The Dutch have been doing this for years, there is no reason why we can’t copy them.

But anyway, here’s his one fact:

But sea-level data from Tuvalu show basically a flat-line average since 1977 — talk about an inconvenient truth!

And here’s what the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project 2005 report says about Tuvalu:

The sea level trend to date is +5.0 mm/year but the magnitude of the trend continues to vary widely from month to month as the data set grows. Accounting for the precise levelling results and inverted barometric pressure effect, the trend is +4.3 mm/year. A nearby gauge, with a longer record but less precision and datum control, shows a trend of +0.9 mm/year.

Correction: I cut and pasted from the report for Vanuatu by mistake. The paragraph above now gives the correct figures for Tuvalu (5.0 mm/year) instead of those for Vanuatu (4.5 mm/year).

Comments

  1. #1 somnilista, FCD
    September 5, 2006

    Bats aren’t bugs

    Of course not. Bats are a type of fowl. I learned this by reading Leviticus.

  2. #2 Harald Korneliussen
    September 6, 2006

    Of course not. Bats are insects! (according to Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes)

  3. #3 theo
    September 6, 2006

    Harald: bugs = insects.

    Tim was alluding to the C&H cartoon — in the original English.

  4. #4 Millimeter Wave
    September 8, 2006

    Harald: bugs = insects.

    Tim was alluding to the C&H cartoon — in the original English.

    It might be worth pointing out that the word “bugs” does not universally mean “insects” in all dialects of English. In British English, at least, “bugs” is an approximate synonym for “germs” (with a corresponding level of imprecision).

  5. #5 z
    September 10, 2006

    “bugs” can be slang for crazy, as in bugs bunny.

  6. #6 Dave Surls
    September 10, 2006

    Actually, this is REALLY what the report (linked to) says about Tuvalu.

    ● A SEAFRAME gauge was installed in Funafuti, Tuvalu, in March 1993. It records sea
    level, air and water temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction. It is
    one of an array designed to monitor changes in sea level and climate in the Pacific.

    ● This report summarises the findings to date, and places them in a regional and
    historical context.

    ● The sea level trend to date is +5.0 mm/year but the magnitude of the trend continues
    to vary widely from month to month as the data set grows. Accounting for the precise
    levelling results and inverted barometric pressure effect, the trend is +4.3 mm/year. A
    nearby gauge, with a longer record but less precision and datum control, shows a trend
    of +0.9 mm/year.

    “Robbins’ article contains only one fact and that fact is wrong.”

    Unless, I misread the report, it is the author of the above remark who seems to have presented erroneous information.

    Incidently, the measured rate of sea level rise, globally, is on the order of 1-2 mm per annum. Worth keeping an eye on, but hardly cause for panic.

  7. #7 Tim Lambert
    September 11, 2006

    Thanks Dave. I had the numbers for Vanuatu (which were slightly smaller) instead of for Tuvalu. I’ve corrected the post.

    Robbins’ claim is still incorrect.

    Satellite measurements show that global sea levels are rising at about 3 mm/year.