The Australian has a daily column called Cut and Paste which is usually a collection of quotes from recent opinion columns in other papers. But like every other part of the paper, it has been used in their unending war on science. Look at the November 12 edition of “Cut and Paste”:
ABC Radio’s Peter Cave reports the IPCC claim the island nation is in imminent danger of climate-induced flooding
Mohamed Nasheed (the new Maldives President) has named battling the effects of rising sea levels as a key priority. He’s hatched an audacious plan to buy his people a new homeland and one of the destinations he’s considering is Australia. …
But is the Maldives really about to be flooded because of climate change? Not according to a project conducted by Nils-Axel Morner, former head of the department of paleogeophysics and geodynamics at Stockholm University:
The Maldives have a unique position in sea-level research. In the past decade they have attracted special attention because, in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scenario, the Maldives would be condemned to become flooded in the next 50 to 100 years.
Our research data does not lend support to any such flooding scenario, however. On the contrary, we find no signs of any ongoing sea-level rise. Our results comes from visits to numerous islands … and includes coring, levelling, sampling and carbon dating.
Present sea level was reached about 4500BC. In the past 4000 years, sea level oscillated around the present. In the past decade, there are no signs of any rise in sea level. Hence, we are able to free the islands from the condemnation to become flooded in the 21st century.
Cut and Paste normally gives a proper cite with the date and source of the quote, but they didn’t for Morner. I wonder why not? A little bit of searching, and I found the source. It wasn’t a journal or even a conference paper — it was a poster. And it was presented back in 2003. Is it possible that Morner’s results have been superseded? Note also that Morner used “coring, levelling, sampling and carbon dating”. Conspicuously absent from this list is any direct measure of sea level from tide gauges or satellites. Sea level rise at tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean islands by Church, White and Hunter published in 2006 in the journal Global and Planetary Change looked at data from tide gauges and satellites and found:
In the Indian Ocean, the tide-gauge records at the
Maldives indicate large rates of relative sea-level rise in
agreement with Singh et al. (2001) and Woodworth
(2005), and in disagreement with Morner et al. (2004). …
For the Maldives themselves, the estimated rate of sea-level rise
over the 52 year period is close to 1 mm/yr and, in
contrast to Morner et al. (2004), we find that there is no
indication of a fall in sea-level of 20 to 30 cm at any time in
the last 30 yrs (which would imply a rate of fall of between
7 and 10 mm/yr over 30 yrs, and double that over the
“1970s to early 1980s” specified by Morner et al. (2004)).
This drop in sea-level has also been shown to be inconsistent with
geological data (Woodroffe, 2005;Kench et al.,
But the Morner quote wasn’t enough for Cut and Paste. Here’s the next quote:
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation suggests another reason the Maldives may be under threat:
Coral mining is an important activity in the Maldives having long-lasting impacts on reefs. Coral is virtually the only building material available in the country and coral mining is widespread. The demand for coral has increased at an enormous rate during the past decade owing to increased development in the country. Recent studies had led to concerns over the sustainability of the reefs subject to coral mining activities.
The physical impact of coral mining depends on the type of reefs in question. Island house reefs act as physical barriers, protecting the coral islands against wave action by dissipating most of the energy in the incoming waves before they reach the beach.
Mining corals from the reef flats effectively removes this physical barrier and leaves the islands prone to increased wave action, swells, storm surges and, consequently, erosion.
This one comes, I kid you not, from a March 1996 workshop. Have their been any developments in the Maldives since then? From the 2002 First National Communication of Maldives to the UNFCCC:
Coral mining is an activity practiced in the Maldives as a result of the
lack of alternative locally available building materials. The practice has
increased the vulnerability of the islands to the projected sea level rise.
Modern building practices have the potential of reducing if not eliminating
this traditional practice. …
So it’s not an alternative to sea level rise as a threat as Cut and Paste tries to pretend.
Removal of coral by mainly coral mining may collapse the protective
barrier function of the reef, which could result in greater coastal erosion,
increased vulnerability and an increase in the stress on the natural
coral systems. The government of the Maldives has already banned coral
mining from the house reefs of islands and has designated specific sites
for coral mining. However, a complete ban on coral mining is considered.
And mining is already partially banned.
I think that after quoting stuff from last century, next week they should do something from the century before that — a bit of Disraeli, perhaps.