Drowning in Sea Level Rise

It’s not likely that sea level rise will drown you personally. The sea is creeping up on us slowly, and yet — all too soon — it has already flooded streets even on sunny days, seeped into groundwater making it undrinkable, carried sewage from septic tanks onto lawns, even stranded an octupus in a parking garage (yes that really happened, on a calm sunny day even). It’s not just hurting coastal property values, it’s killing them.

But there’s one group that actually is drowning due to sea level rise: climate deniers.


Mo Brooks, for example. At the recent hearing of the house committee on space, science, and technology, the congressman from Alabama pushed the idea that sea level rise is caused by rocks and dirt accumulating on the ocean floor. He has been so ridiculed for his ridiculous idea that he’s now a laughingstock, a poster child for the clueless idiot politician. Alabamans might reconsider whether they want such a dolt representing them, because the only rocks big enough for the job seem to be in congressman Brooks’s head.

Then there’s S. Fred Singer. He penned an editorial for the Wall Street Journal titled “The Sea Is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change.” A letter to the editor from some actual experts on the subject asks the Journal whether they would run the op-ed “Objects Are Falling, but Not Because of Gravity”? Singer’s specifics are almost as ludicrous as Mo Brooks’s, and are proving to be nearly as great an embarrassment.

The recent string of moronic musings from climate deniers about sea level rise illustrates two things. First, it is a serious problem already plaguing us, and is bound to get worse with each passing millimeter — it’s such a big problem already their denial has become desperate. Second, they have so little sound basis to dispute its danger or its relationship to climate change that their denial has become desperate.

Dazzling displays of a dim wit might be expected from children called upon to give a book report when they haven’t read the book. But whether from paid consultants for right-wing think tanks or from elected officials, the notions being pushed these days from climate deniers are finally getting the message across to millions of Americans: that they will say anything, even the most nonsensical nonsense, to dispute the damage from climate change that we’re already seeing. They’re getting to the bottom of the barrel, flirting with claims so silly that even tea-party coal miners will have a hard time swallowing them, with the result that the day of reckoning is approaching so much faster. They are drowning in a sea of public relations disasters of their own making.

They should have paid more attention to Abe Lincoln’s warning, that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.


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15 responses to “Drowning in Sea Level Rise

  1. Deniers have always cranked out “nonsensical nonsense”, at least since I first became aware of them in 1988. I tend to believe that their “day of reckoning” won’t be here until the ringleaders are on trial for crimes against humanity.

  2. Fred Singer’s May 15 OP is so obviously a bold-as-brass statement on what is happening in our oceans but it does leave some important scientific questions unanswered.
    ☻ Why is the thermal expansion of the oceans entirely balanced by increased evaporation? ☻ Why does this excess precipitation apparently end up on Antarctica? ☻ Why is Antarctica the sole cause of modern SLR? ☻ How is it “possible to sidestep most of the complications, like “isostatic adjustment” of the shoreline” with “a very short time interval” when assessing SLR 1915-45? ☻ Why is the best estimate for global SLR found in Trupin & Wahr (1990)?
    Poor old Fred is obviously struggling with these questions so I turned my hand to furnishing the answers.
    The answers are of course obvious. ☻ It is obvious that water suffers from vertigo (why else does it always try to flow downhill) and when faced with rising ocean surfaces it simply evaporates. ☻ And where’s it gonna go? It migrates to Antarctica which as every schoolboy knows is at the bottom of the world and so a refuge for all suffering from vertigo. Why do you think it is populated by flightless birds? ☻ And the SLR we measure is caused by the penguins. This is not so ridiculous. Do note that if a few words can flood Alabama-&-beyond with laughter, a few million penguins will certainly impact sea level by changing their bath-time (probably due to the increasing snowfall). ☻ The “a very short time interval” of course concerns Fred’s attention span and not any analytical method which, due to his lack of concentration he has entirely failed to set out in his OP. ☻ And the reference to Trupin & Wahr (1990) is of course the most up-to-date analysis assesed by the IPCC (see page 263 here).
    Its a sure thing. There are no flies on old Fred Singer! And that’s because they cannot penetrate all the cobwebs!!

  3. But did Abe Lincoln actually say that? See https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/12/11/cannot-fool/

  4. Yeah, I saw that Singer piece, and you’re right–it’s really scraping bottom. Basically, it amounted to “SLR just can’t be due to warming, so let me make up an unspecified cause instead–that way, it won’t impinge on any of my client’s economic interests! And since I don’t have a cause, and I don’t have quite the brass balls to pretend SLR is zero, I’ll distract you with the thesis that the thermal expansion that should happen according to everything we know about physics must be exactly balanced out by evaporation because, look, a warmist!”

    Is the next step denying the existence of thermal expansion outright? That’s about the only way it could have been worse than it already was.

  5. It ought to be embarrassing even for an imbecile to say things this stupid, except these people have no sense of shame. Brooks has a whole district of like-minded simpletons he can go back to for support and will no doubt be with us for another 2 years after November. Singer, while not an idiot can find comfort lying on his mattress stuffed with $100 bills.

    • I agree that his constituents are “like-minded” in terms of ideology; they’re mostly conservative, republican, religious. But I hope they’re not “like-minded” in terms of being as outright stupid.

    • “Brooks has a whole district of like-minded simpletons he can go back to for support…”

      I sure hope not, as his district includes the UA Huntsville campus:

      https://brooks.house.gov/our-district

      But perhaps as a climate activist living in a conservative southern milieu, I’m a tad sensitive on the topic.

  6. I suspect that people making truly nonsensical statements like sea level rise being due to rock and dirt are, in effect, demonstrating just how loyal to the cause they are. They are showing that they are prepared to say anything and far from being innately damaging, that kind of loyalty – which is willing to endure the push back and ridicule – is probably welcomed and rewarded by the key constituencies those demonstrations are aimed to please. The ridicule aimed at such politicians is, in effect, ridicule aimed also at all the people who reject climate change science and the specific errors become irrelevant. Especially if the ridicule is over the top, with enough nonsense and nastiness to cherry pick examples from, it is actually a force that can unite them and strengthen their resolve.

    • I would contend that ridicule is the only appropriate recourse when confronted with the ridiculous. We have to stimulate whatever vestigial impulses of shame remain in these pathetic, self-deluding, ignorant food tubes.