A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Kiribati sinking “like Titanic” but 59 million times slower

Kiribati, with a natural resource base of almost nothing, makes 15% of its nominal GDP, via donations from the Australian government. Periodically Mr Anote Tong, president of Kiribati,visits Australia to remind us how much they need help money.

Creatively, this year, Mr Tong is comparing Kiribati’s future to the sinking of the Titanic.

Give the man points for theatrix:

“We are the people who will be swimming,” he said.   “The question will be — will those people on the lifeboats bother to pull us in or push us away because we would be too problematic?”

Kiribati’s highest point is 13m above water, and is sinking at a rate of 1mm a year (see the updated graph below by Eyes On Browne). To rephrase Euan Mearns, at this rate, complete inundation of it will take 13,000 years.

The Titanic’s elevation (waterline to the deck) was 18m, so it was 50% higher, yet it sank in 2 hours 40 minutes. That’s one ninth of a day, or one 3,285th of a year. Conservatively, the comparative speed works out to be 42.7 million times faster. Allowing for the higher elevation (but discounting funnels and/or palms) that would be 59.1 million times faster.


Real sea level rise: a lost continent called Zealandia submerged

File this under Nasty Nature. This is the sort of thing planet Earth throws at life.

The is real “sea level rise” — where most of a continent (called Zealandia) sinks under the waves — and — as far as we know, though I could be wrong  — fossil fuel use was minimal circa 50 -80 million years ago. Can Exxon be blamed?

New Zealanders may be feeling a bit cheesed that they carelessly lost something like 80% of their land. (Call that “Old Zealand” which was once as big as India.) Given that it is one kilometer underwater, it looks like it isn’t coming back soon. But think of all the national parks, reefs, etc that were destroyed?

Zealandia. |  Credit: IODP

The story is that the Pacific Rim of Fire “buckled” 40-50 million years ago, and Zealandia sunk a lot deeper. There is a suggestion that it was originally submerged about 80 million years ago (or so), when this renegade land split from Australia and Antarctica.

Since 1,000 tide gauges estimate current sea level rise at around 1 mm a year, real climate change puts the current panic about sea levels into perspective. Even the next ice [...]

Sea level rise hysteria can be cured by looking at tide gauge data

Scaremonger photos of inundation abound in our national news this week. Famous foreshore parks are gone, islands disappear, houses, picnic areas, racecourses, golf courses — all submerged. The water rolls in over Sydney’s Circular Quay, Melbourne’s Docklands, Brisbane Airport, Hindmarsh Island — swamped. Rooned. Today its the satellite photo, tomorrow it’ll be computer generated streetscapes; coming soon, the underwater documentary: Swimming in the Opera House.

This is a mocked up satellite pic of Perth, WA projecting how much ground we will lose.

If you live in these future washed out zones, email me. I’ll buy your house.

Compare the forecast two metre rise, to actual Tide Gauge Data for Fremantle since 1900 (Fremantle has the second longest record of sea level change in the Southern Hemisphere):

Sea Level rise Fremantle, Perth, Australia shows about a 20cm rise in 110 years.

So there has been a 20cm rise or so in 100 years. But 200cm is coming. Yeah.  (For details of the way Sea Levels around Perth Coastline change see Chris Gillhams work.)

This slow rate of sea level rise is not just a west coast thing: Sydney’s sea levels are rising at just 6.5cm per century.

The model [...]

Asian sea levels changed rapidly 6,000 years ago — natural sea level rise “unprecedented”

If you thought seas were constant 6,000 years ago…

Microatolls are apparently very accurate proxy for sea levels, giving a higher resolution estimate of sea levels. But the extra data suggests more natural oscillations in seas than the experts used to think. Six thousand years ago, near Indonesia, seas apparently rose and fell twice by as much as 60 centimeters in a 250 year period. A similar pattern happened 2,600km away in SE China. Seas were changing so fast researchers estimate the shift occurred at 13mm per year and  comment that these regional changes are “unprecedented in modern times.” (Or unrepeated, perhaps?) At the first peak 6,750 years ago, seas were 1m higher than today. The current rate of sea level change is 1mm a year in hundreds of tide gauges and 3mm in “adjusted” satellite data).

From the paper I gather that sea levels in this region change a lot even now. ENSO and the Indian Ocean dipole slop the oceans back and forward. Meltzner et al don’t know why the seas around asia changed so much in the holocene, nor do they know if this is a global phenomenon.  They talk about other studies on the Great [...]

Apocalypse of sea levels coming. Global Worriers on beach should sell up to deniers


A group called NGIS Australia are helping climate skeptics find cheaper beach-houses. They’ve put up a website called and an App to scarify homeowners. There’s a spike coming, it’s accelerating, and we’re talking billions of dollars.

Do I hear tipping point? It’s a tipping point:

At the moment, there are only a few homes impacted by coastal flooding, high tides and storms but Mr Mallon said we needed to brace for a big spike.

“Tens of thousands of homes in Australia — meaning hundreds of millions of dollars in property — are under increasing threat,” he said.

You could say they’ve gone full mental with the fear factor — especially when global sea levels are rising at about 1mm a year (according to a thousand tide gauges). In Sydney, sea levels are streaking up even slower, at 0.6mm a year.

Changes in sea levels in Australia don’t fit the carbon meme too well. Sell up anyway.

Australian-NZ seas were changing as fast or even faster before World War II.


How many Australians? Seriously…

About 80 per cent of Australians who live near the coast could be the target [...]

Wow? On sea-levels NSW councils told to take “scientific” approach, not IPCC predictions

This is a big deal. Here’s a state government telling people to be more scientific, and not blindly follow the IPCC. This is a win we need to translate to other areas.

The former Labor government in NSW had told councils they had to plan for sea-level rise  “according to the IPCC”, but that made sea-side properties unsalable, and was pretty painfully stupid compared to what the tide gauges were actually saying (like in Sydney where the rise is a tiny 6cm a century). The new strategy says councils need to be scientific and look at the conditions on each beach separately.

In this issue, the costs of following the IPCC plan were borne by those living on the coast (and property developers), and that pain motivated them to press the State government to get the IPCC out of the way. This is a reminder that it is worth protesting and sane things do happen.

If we can get citizens of the free west to appreciate the true cost of the IPCC, it would surely be gone by 2020. Now there’s a target..

Rob Stokes announces shake-up of council coastal management

In an interview with The Australian, [...]

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 [...]

The scandal of sea levels — rising trends, acceleration — largely created by adjustments

Headlines across Australia yesterday told us the dire news that a new study finds that “Sea level rising faster in past 20 years than in entire 20th century“.   A new paper by Watson et al is driving the headlines, but underneath this Nature paper is a swamp of adjustments, an error larger than the signal, and the result disagrees with many other studies and almost all the raw measurements. Paper after paper kept showing that sea levels rates had slowed (e.g Chen showed deceleration from 2004, Cazenave said in the last decade sea-levels had slowed 30% (but argued post hoc adjustments could solve that). Beenstock used 1000 tide gauges and found no acceleration of sea levels over the last 50 years. A different researcher — Phil Watson, found that Australian sea levels rose faster before World War II then slowed down.)

Firstly,  hundreds of tide gauges show sea level rising at about a third of the rate than satellites do. Worse, the original satellite raw data showed the same slow rise, until it was suddenly adjusted. The real scandal is that the rapidly rising trend was largely created by adjustments in the first place. These latest corrections just adjust down [...]

Vanuatu sea levels: how much did they contribute to cyclone damage?

Sea levels are part of the scare campaign, but how many journalists ask, and how many scientists admit, that sea levels in the South Pacific are noisy data that changes as the ground moves and the ocean slops back and forward? The Pacific averages 4 km deep. Is it any wonder that slight changes in winds and currents will shift the top 10cm, just 0.0025% , around? Long term sea level changes are difficult to assess. But this is not what we hear much in the media:

“Rising sea levels making island nations such as Vanuatu more vulnerable to storms and amplifies the impact of tropical cyclones” –The Guardian

“Coastal flooding is a sleeping giant,” it says. —  The Climate Council (

The good recent data shows big rises and falls that don’t correlate with CO2

A very neat high-quality network of SeaFrame equipment was installed around South Pacific Islands in 1992 to measure both land and sea movements. This is called the Pacific Sea Level Monitoring Project. It is maintained by the Australian BoM. The geodetic observations are done by Geoscience Australia.

These tide gauges show that sea levels are rising and falling around Vanuatu [...]

Sea level rise was less than thought (skeptics were right)

Skeptics, and particularly Nils-Axel Mörner have been saying that sea level rise, as recorded by tide gauges has been much slower than widely advertised. They’ve also pointed out how the rates of sea-level rise have either stayed the same or slowed down. There’s been no sign of the acceleration needed for the wildly speculative  hypothesis that your SUV, and China’s coal plants are warming the ocean.

This week a new Nature paper (Hay et al) shows the skeptics were right  — but did that view make it to any news broadcast?

Watch the sea-level scare mutate

Even in The Australian the spin from the propaganda machine gets a running, and the previous slow rise is used to pump the scare that the modern “acceleration” is even scarier. What the Australian (and selected sea level “experts”) don’t mention is that the tide-gauges don’t show any acceleration, and nor did the raw recordings from satellites. The 3mm rising sea claims apparently come from satellites that were calibrated to one subsiding tide gauge in Hong Kong.

It’s cherry picking par excellence. We might finally accept tide gauges up to 1990, but after that the tide gauges don’t count — bring in the “adjusted” [...]