Brief cooling interlude

We'll be back with our usual programming of attack-mustelid on Gore :-) in a moment, but as a little interlude global cooling gets back in the news in the Cristian Science Monitor (thanks to ES). I rather like William Connolley, a sort of self-appointed historian of the global-cooling theory, says that although global cooling was briefly but prominently covered in some speculative news articles, the idea never got much traction within the scientific community. New data and research over the decades has convinced the vast majority of scientists that global warming is real and under way.

Speaking of AIT, I think the next point to look at is Tuvalu. Lots of people are defending him on this and I don't believe a word of it. But I've yet to find my sources.

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It's been awhile since I've seen AIT, so I needed to look at an unofficial transcript to see where Gore mentioned Tuvalu. And according to that transcript, he doesn't. (I am unsure as to the accuracy of the transcript, but it is probably better than my memory.) The unofficial transcript does have him saying "That's why the citizens of these pacific nations had all had to evacuate to New Zealand" at the end of the section about the Antarctic Peninsula Sea Ice.

Assuming he's talking about the people of Tuvalu, I find these references, some from popular press, some from peer-reviewed journals, and some from non-peer reviewed journals.

To summarize, there appears to have been an emigration of approximately 1000 people from Tuvalu to New Zealand during the years 1996 and 2001. [1] It was upon this report that the NYTimes wrote, "Driven by fears of rising sea levels as a result of global warming, about 16 percent of the Pacific atoll nation of Tuvalu now live in New Zealand, figures from Statistics New Zealand indicate." [2] It is unclear how the NYT came to the conclusion that the cause of the emigration was due to the fear of sea level rise, as it does not mention that in the Statistics New Zealand report.

There have been several studies [3, 4, 5, 6, 7] measuring the sea level rise at Tuvalu and other Pacific islands, its effect, and policy implications. I'm unable to access the E&E article, but the title and journal pretty much sum it up. Below are quotes from the other two papers attempting to measure sea level rise at Tuvalu.

"Over 1950 to 2001, the relative rate of sea-level rise at Funafuti[, Tuvalu] estimated from the reconstruction is 1.6 ± 0.5 mm yrâ 1." [6]

"A cautious estimate of present long-term relative sea level change at Funafuti[, Tuvalu], which
uses all the data, is a rate of rise of 0:8 1:9 mm/year" [7]

"A less cautious estimate [of sea level rise], based on the rejection of data aected by El Ni~no / Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, is a rate of rise of 1:2 0:8 mm/year" [7]

[1] Statistics New Zealand

[2] NYTimes

[3] Regional issues raised by sea-level rise and their policy implications

[4] Sea level rise: Some implications for Tuvalu

[5] Tuvalu Not Experiencing Increased Sea Level Rise (E&E)

[6] Sea-level rise at tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean islands

[7] A Note on Relative Sea Level Change at Funafuti, Tuvalu

Maatia Toafa, Tuvalu's PM, has said that the Tuvalu government would consider buying land in Fiji or New Zealand to resettle the entire population if the islands became uninhabitable. That's what it says in my book, anyway ;-) - source is a news feature in Nature (A sinking Feeling by Samir Patel, Vol 440, Apr 6 2006).

What's always puzzled me is, the movie is supposed to be a snapshot of the moment, it's about _how_ not _what_ Gore presents -- and it shows him editing away on his laptop in between appearances.

The website for the movie was all flash and script stuff so I never got past their opening page -- typical corporate "you need a more vulnerable browser or lower security standards to view this" stuff.

But I've always wondered how far Gore's current presentation has moved from the old info that was captured in the movie.

The mere fact that all the opposition is focused on the movie makes me think this is the focus on the 'founder as foundation' notion -- same thing that leads to the "Darwinist" attacks or attacks on the earliest Hansen or Mann work by those in opposition. The idea that science is built up like prophecy on some grand original source.

Anyone know what the current info is in Gore's talks?

Seems to me these digital days they could update the movie as well --- or more usefully just put the current talk and video up with timestamps clearly marking the version.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 13 Oct 2007 #permalink

Several quick points, more later.
Al Gore does not mention Tuvalu. It is, however, mentioned in his book. Mark Lynas says it was his photograph of Tuvalu that was used by Gore, as I mentioned yesterday:

Moreover, the judge was wrong on coral bleaching - which is unambiguously related to rising sea temperatures - and in downplaying the sea level impacts experienced by atoll states. As it happens, Gore's statement on this subject was based on a photo I took in Tuvalu in 2002, shown in the film, at a time when increasingly severe flooding during high tides was already a reality, driving negotiations with New Zealand about evacuating the entire population.

Tuvalu is not the only island nation to have problems exacerbated by climate change. Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and the Maldives are amongst others affected. Tuvalu has been more vocal than most at the U.N. (for various reasons), speaking out on behalf of many other small island states. I have found plenty of official U.N. statements and speeches, Guardian and Independent links to add to N.Johnson's good bucketful on this topic. When I get time, I will post them all.

For now, I would say that there are several versions of the transcript online: 1 2, and I took a few notes myself when I watched AIT at my daughter's school yesterday. I am coming to the realisation that there may be several versions of the DVD out there.
Certainly, the transcripts are not exactly the same, and I cannot understand why Al Gore would have said what is quoted in the Judgment and transcripts if he said this in his book:

"Many residents of low-lying Pacific Island nations have already had to evacuate their homes because of rising seas." (AIT p. 186)

This is a true statement.
I watched AIT yesterday and scribbled a few notes, the only thing I wrote on this was "That's why .. Pacific nations .. -> NZ." and now I wish I had a copy of the DVD handy to listen to his actual words. Even so, this is a distraction because the reality is that governments have had negotiations about full evacuations, thousands of Tuvaluans have already emigrated to New Zealand, and families are expecting to have to leave their island homes, sooner or later :-(

Here are a few different examples of inhabited and uninhabited islands and atolls that have been inundated and submerged in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Does that cover enough options for you?

Residents have been evacuated (permanently, of course) from those submerged, and also from others nearby as a precautionary measure.

What exactly is it that you do not believe? Is it the words used in the Judgment (which are not necessarily the exact words Al Gore used), or that evacuations have happened at all, or the fact that the UN and others have held meetings to try to figure out what to do when entire nations become extinct?!

Christmas Eve 2006. This report is not about Tuvalu, and was written since AIT was released, but the message is the same. My blog has three full reports, here's an excerpt from one of them:

The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.

It has been officially recorded in a six-year study of the Sunderbans by researchers at Calcutta's Jadavpur University. So remote is the island that the researchers first learned of its submergence, and that of an uninhabited neighbouring island, Suparibhanga, when they saw they had vanished from satellite pictures.

Two-thirds of nearby populated island Ghoramara has also been permanently inundated. Dr Sugata Hazra, director of the university's School of Oceanographic Studies, says "it is only a matter of some years" before it is swallowed up too. Dr Hazra says there are now a dozen "vanishing islands" in India's part of the delta. The area's 400 tigers are also in danger.

Until now the Carteret Islands off Papua New Guinea were expected to be the first populated ones to disappear, in about eight years' time, but Lohachara has beaten them to the dubious distinction.

Human cost of global warming: Rising seas will soon make 70,000 people homeless

Refugees from the vanished Lohachara island and the disappearing Ghoramara island have fled to Sagar, but this island has already lost 7,500 acres of land to the sea. In all, a dozen islands, home to 70,000 people, are in danger of being submerged by the rising seas.

[Err well you need to read the Tuvalu post. As well as the comment I just left on your most recent SLR post :-). In essence, and I'm sorry if this sounds somewhat impolite, I think you're being too credulous -W]

Steven Milloy at Fox News points out that if you take GORE's movie, and remove the 9 proved false statements, and also correct Gore's false statement that 2005 was the hottest year on record (1934 was), THEN you have NO MOVIE. The rest is just filler, emotional background, disaster pictures, etc. I.E., if you make 'An Inconvenient Truth' actually true, then there IS NO valid global warming message. None.

[But Milloy is junk. He is lying to you. 1934 is *not* the warmest year globally; 1998 or 2005 were. And no, there are not 9 proved false statements in the movie.

Its fairly simple. If you want the science, don't read Milloy, and don't wathc AIT (though its a lot better than Milloy). Read IPCC -W]

Specifically about Pacific Islands, people do not realize that sea levels are constantly changing, and it is very difficult indeed to establish long-term real changes and attribute them to any single cause. Here are some comments from Dr Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, who are co-hosts, Tech Central Station and Associate of the Harvard College Observatory:
"As it turns out, estimates of globally averaged sea level rise in the 20th century are irrelevant since Tuvalu's local sea level change is very different from the globally averaged change.

There are three estimates of sea level changes for Tuvalu. The first is a satellite record showing that the sea level has actually fallen four inches around Tuvalu since 1993 when the hundred-million dollar international TOPEX/POSEIDON satellite project record began. Second comes from the modern instruments recording tide gauge data since 1978. There the record for Tuvalu shows ups and downs of many inches over periods of years. For example, the strong El Nino of 1997-98 caused the sea level surrounding Tuvalu to drop just over one foot. The El Nino Southern Oscillation is a natural - as opposed to man-made -future of the Pacific Ocean, as areas of the Pacific periodically warm then cool every few years, causing significant sea level rises and falls every few years in step with the co-oscillations of the ocean and atmosphere.

The overall trend discerned from the tide gauge data, according to Wolfgang Scherer, Director of Australia's National Tidal Facility, remains flat. "One definitive statement we can make," states Scherer, "is that there is no indication based on observations that sea level rise is accelerating." Finally, there is the new estimate by scientists at the Centre Nationale d¹Etudes Spatiales who also find that between 1955 and 1996 the sea level surrounding Tuvalu dropped four inches."

All these measurements show that Tuvalu has suffered, at worst, no sea level rise.

They also note that humans are changing the coastline of Tuvalu. Sand is removed from the beaches for use as building material. An environmental official of Tuvalu, Elisala Pita, said, "This [coastal] erosion is caused by man-made infrastructure. Tuvalu is being used for the issue of climate change. People are telling all these lies, just using Tuvalu to prove their point. No island is sinking. Tuvalu is not sinking. It is still floating."

By DemocracyRules (not verified) on 22 Oct 2007 #permalink