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Sea level hyperbole: CSIRO, BOM, ABC and Kiribati President should apologize for wasting our time

Minister Peter Dutton made a joke about Pacific Islander time. The Offendotrons howled and called for him to be sacked. But the real problem here is not the small 1mm rise in sea-levels, it’s the the national media end up discussing global “offense” levels rather than sea levels. The scientific data shows there is no issue. Australian taxpayers pay the ABC, the CSIRO and the BOM to inform the Australian public, yet none of them explained that the real sea level rise recorded in Kiribati is less than 1 mm a year. Why not?  The ABC does not clear the fog for Australians, it generates it. Dutton apologized, but he shouldn’t have. It feeds the offendotrons. They didn’t accept it, won’t stop referring to his comment, nor start talking about real problems. Apologizing only extends the time our national conversation is wasted on mindless things.

Yet again, the unfunded bloggers report the scientific data and not the institutes we pay to do that?

Noting that today’s meeting to discuss the resettlement of refugees was running late, Mr Dutton quipped that it was running to “Cape York time”, to which the Prime Minister replied: “We had a bit of that up in Port Moresby.”

Mr Dutton riposted: “Time doesn’t mean anything when you’re about to have water lapping at your door.”

The president of Kiribati has since called the joke “vulgar” and “quite unbecoming of leadership”.

The president of Kiribati has lashed out at Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, labelling him morally irresponsible for making a “vulgar” joke about rising sea levels in the Pacific.

Responding more in “sadness” than anger, Anote Tong said Mr Dutton has “got to search his own soul”.

“What kind of a person is he? As long as there is this kind of attitude, this kind of arrogance in any position of leadership, we will continue to have a lot of tension,” he said.

But what’s unbecoming of a leader is panicking his own people about a 1mm sea level rise, which appears to have little to do with CO2. What’s vulgar is people demanding money for a threat that barely exists. The people who need to “search their souls” are the scientists at the CSIRO and BOM, who are supposed to serve the Australian public and their elected leaders and who know the tide gauges don’t support the scare — but these scientists say nothing.

Australian foreign aid to Kiribati is $27 million for 2015/16 (which is equivalent to 15% of nominal GDP, for its population of 103,000 people).  Are they grateful?

Did the Pacific Islanders who were late apologize?

Sea levels are rising at a very unscary 1mm a year

According to 1000 tide gauges, globally, sea levels are rising slowly at around 1mm a year. The rise started long before human CO2 output increased, and there is no sign of acceleration with rapidly increasing human emissions of CO2. Careful analysis of 60 beaches in Northern Europe to find one of the most stable gauges in the world agrees.  The Topex/Poseidon satellite sea-level data set also showed similar rates until they were adjusted up to fit climate models (or one sinking gauge in Hong Kong). Likewise the Envisat sea-level satellite data was also adjusted up. Vincent Gray graphed sea level around many South Pacific Islands. There is no CO2 induced disaster.

According to Kiribati long term sea level rise data is available from the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level. Eyes On Browne, has graphed the five original datasets from Kiribati tide gauges going back to 1949 showing a long term trend of 0.8mm, which is similar to the global sea level rise shown by all the other gauges.

Kiribati Sea Level, Tide gauges, South Pacific.

Kiribati Sea Level, Tide gauges, South Pacific, 1949 – 2014. | Click to enlarge

The NOAA mean sea levels of Kanton Island Kiribati shows 0.6mm/ year rise from 1949 -2007 (PSMSL).

The Australian government cut its foreign aid budget recently and funneled more money to the UN climate program instead. The Pacific Islanders would  probably get more from  Australia if the money came direct from our government, rather than being filtered through more layers of bureaucrats.



PSMLS: Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level

South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project [Bureau of Meteorology]

Michael Beenstock, Daniel Felsenstein,*Eyal Frank & Yaniv Reingewertz, (2014)  Tide gauge location and the measurement of global sea level rise,  Environmental and Ecological Statistics, May 2014


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