On with the boring. Disclaimer: this is nit-picking, for the question “is Gore accurate?”. On the wider issue, I’m with the judge and with RC: Gore is basically correct. First off, its not really Tuvalua, its vaguer: “that’s why the citizens of these Pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand” is what the judge has him saying (p 26). Which also fits a transcript NJ kindly pointed me to. Just in case we’re in any doubt as to the tense Gore is using, the book rather helpfully has a double page spread with large letters for the hard-of-reading (p186-7) saying “Many residents of low-lying Pacific islands have already had to evacuate their homes because of rising seas”. The picture under the words, though, is captioned high-tide at Tuvalu, so we’re back to pinning this on Tuvalu. I’ll come back to the context at the end, but just for now note that this is in the context of sea level rise – you’re not allowed to let Gore cop out by blaming it on storminess.
But “have already had to evacuate” is b*ll*cks. We all know that sea level has risen at about 2 mm/yr over the 20th century, which equates to about 20 cm. Thats a global average. The rise at Tuvalu is, if anything, somewhat less.
How then do we reconcile this with all the nice people who support Gore on this? Lets pick out Inel (because she is nice) and Tim Lambert (because he is an evil psycho-killer; don’t worry folks, thats a compliment).
Also, please read NJs nice comment.
Tim uses http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=06-P13-00013&segmentID=6. And his quote (cut) is “Seeing themselves as climate refuges some Tuvalans are already leaving their islands, moving their communities to higher ground in a new land… New Zealand did agree to take 75 Tuvaluans a year as part of its Pacific Access Category, an agreement made in 2001.” This is, of course, only news reporting, and we should all by now know not to trust anything the media tells us unless its corroborated; *especially* if its heart-breaking and newsworthy tales of climate refugees. What other possible explanations could there be? Well, they may fancy a one-way trip to a first world country? Not entirely impossible.
In fact that story tells us that the changes have occurred over the past 20 years. Thats about 4 cm. It will take a lot to convince me that 4 cm of sea level rise will force evacuation. Storm surges and tides are obviously much larger than that. But the story also says “Gauges in Tuvalu indicate the sea has risen an average of five and a half millimeters per year in recent years. That’s consistent with average worldwide sea level rise.” No, it isn’t. Worldwide is more like half that. “Over 1950 to 2001, the relative rate of sea-level rise at Funafuti[, Tuvalu] estimated from the reconstruction is 1.6 ± 0.5 mm yr− 1.” say Church et al. (with a sideswipe at “dowsing” Morner), so that 5.5 mm/yr is distinctly dubious (a short-term fluctuation, perhaps?).
It would be interesting to see quite what NZ agreed, but from this its unclear that the 75 are related to SLR anyway.
What about Inel? Well… sorry, but this is one of those moments when one says, yet again: “repeat after me: I must not believe everything I read in the newspapers”. Even nice one like the grauniad. Sometimes they simply lie to you, other times they will happily embroider, particularly when reporting science they don’t understand (I somewhat apologise to Inel for speaking to my elders and betters like that, especially since Inel knows it already, but I’m really talking to the rest of you :-).
Her first, headed “TUVALU: Going down”, ostensibly about “a victim of global warming”, includes “Fifty hectares of Tuvalu disappeared into the sea during the 1997 storms”. Well du-ooh, *yes*. Its the storms. Its not the rising sea level. There follow some rather unconvincing predictions. Their far-future is probably iffy, but there is nothing there about their present-day problems. The second is even worse: “FAREWELL TUVALU… A group of nine islands, home to 11,000 people, is the first nation to pay the ultimate price for global warming.” Predictably enough, nothing in the story justifies that start. The third (3 ==4?) is much the same: “This year alone in 1997, Tuvalu was devastated by three tropical cyclones; the firs two in March – Gavin and Hina – and more recently Keli.” – its the storms again.
Conclusion: I can see no evidence that Tuvalu is suffering because of past to present sea level rise. The evidence of the rate of SLR is strong evidence that there has been little effect; the few newspapers stories to the contrary are vague and anecdotal and clearly cannot be relied on. I can see some evidence for storm damage (but no evidence that this has increased due to GW; and anyway, as noted at the start, Gore isn’t talking about storms). Worrying about future rises probably makes sense.
And lastly, the context. From the transcript: “The Second Canary: Antarctic Peninsula Sea Ice… break up of ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula… When the floating sea-based ice cracked up, it no longer held back the ice on the land. The land-based ice then started falling into the ocean… That’s why the citizens of these pacific nations had all had to evacuate to New Zealand.” This piles error on assertion on uncertainty. Firstly, SLR from the Antarctic peninsula is at most a small fraction of the global total. Second, the “holding back” stuff is uncertain. Third, I don’t think we could confidently assert that the overall contribution of the peninsula is to raise sea level.