Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Missing the Point in California

We read a sad tale on the Climate Watch blog - Rising Seas Threaten California’s Coastal Past, "Higher tides and increased erosion will wipe out archaeological sites"

This site and these cultural resources — some of them a thousand years old or more — might not be around for much longer. These pieces of California’s history are in danger of disappearing as the Pacific Ocean claws at the base of this cliff. Sea level rise is accelerating the problem.
It’s not just that the tides will be higher. The cliffs are so soft, they could recede hundreds of feet back, with just a few feet of sea level rise.
So "sea level rise is accelerating the problem", and the evidence for that is...?
A tide gauge in the nearby Golden Gate has recorded eight inches of sea level rise in the past century. Scientists project it could rise three feet in the next.
That "whole eight inches" (20cm) is indisputable, the record shows it, and it's equal to the average global rise during the 20th century, but "accelerating the problem"? Mr. Newland, an archaeologist at Sonoma State University and the president of the Society for California Archaeology, seems to think so, but why, if he's so concerned about Point Reyes, is he quoting a statistic for San Francisco, when there's a gauge right on his doorstep at Point Reyes lighthouse? Perhaps this is the reason:

Source: PSMSL

... just about zero rise since 1980, clearly shown by the 5-year (61 month) moving average. This is in common with most stations from Point Reyes southward, including his quoted San Francisco. Sea level rise along this coast is a documented non-problem at the moment, and has been so for 30 years.

Source: PSMSL

I sympathise with him, but before blaming some "climate change" induced effect for what's happening, make sure you're in possession of the facts. Soft rock erodes quickly with wave action, rising sea level or not - it's part of a natural cycle, returning sediment to the sea floor to form new rock in time.

Local and city authorities are scurrying about, wringing their hands in despair, worrying about inundation of wetlands, coastal highways and houses, when sea levels along the Californian coast aren't rising, and haven't risen for around 30 years. In North Carolina, state legislators have taken a pragmatic "wait and see" approach to sea level rise and have been castigated for their common sense, The cries of "we have to act now" are nonsensical. They have to act on what's happening now, and make plans for the foreseeable future If an acceleration establishes itself, there'll be plenty of time to bring forward future plans, and formulate new ones.

In the case of Point Reyes, Mr. Newland should cite facts, not "climate-change" sound-bites to bolster his case for action. Unfortunately, this tactic is rapidly becoming the norm.

No comments:

Post a Comment