Saturday, 8 October 2011

Tuvalu - "The Economist" makes up sea-level statistics

Tuvalu, that icon of alarmists everywhere, is suffering a severe drought. The Economist explains why
Observers blame the shortage on the changing weather patterns and rising sea levels associated with climate change—and warn they could be a sign of things to come for the whole region. 
Freshwater supplies had already been running dangerously low for the 11,000 people who live on Tuvalu. The drought caused by nearly a year of sparse rainfall has been made worse [by] rising sea levels, which have contaminated the low-lying country’s underground aquifers with salt water.
As an archipelago whose highest elevation is a meagre 4.5 metres, Tuvalu feels it when the sea level climbs by an average of 5.77 mm annually. The whole country, a cluster of white sandy beaches as far as can be from the rest of the planet, is expected to disappear entirely within the next 50 years. That fate portends ominously not just for Tuvalu, but also for every other low-lying coastal area, from the Maldives to Manhattan. 
Let's see what Tuvalu is "feeling". If sea-level is rising at a rate of 5.77 mm/year, that should be readily detectable at the capital, Funafuti. Data is available to August this year (click to enlarge).

Sea-level at Funafuti, Tuvalu; Jan 1999-Aug 2011, trend -0.33 mm/year

So much for that "5.77 mm/year rise" - the trend is slightly negative. See the end of this post for details of data source. Newspapers and journals should be required to quote a source for data they include in articles and blogs. Tuvalu's "white sandy beaches" seem to be free of any immediate threat, and it would appear that the country's underground aquifers have become contaminated with sea-water due to over-extraction, not "rising sea levels".

A picture is worth a thousand words.

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