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Rising Sea Level Forcing Evacuation of Tuvalu.
November 25, 2001 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Rising Sea Level Forcing Evacuation of Tuvalu. "During the twentieth century, sea level rose by 20-30 centimeters (8-12 inches)." The 1,196 tiny islands of the Maldives are "barely 2 meters above sea level". "In 2000 the World Bank published a map showing that a 1-meter rise in sea level would inundate half of Bangladesh's riceland." Here are EPA and NASA sites on the sea level. (NASA? They may be promoting justification to colonize other planets ASAP!)
posted by mmarcos (17 comments total)

Which raises the question: What will happen to the .tv TLD?
posted by j.edwards at 1:35 PM on November 25, 2001

Hooray for ratifying the Kyoto protocol!

Hooray for once again making Australia look bad!

Hooray for being a Pacific Island!
Hooray for drinking in the morning!
posted by Catch at 1:55 PM on November 25, 2001

There is a 1500 year cycle of warming and cooling caused by slight variations in the output of the Sun. We're in the warming segment of that cycle, which will peak in about 200 years. After that, the earth will again cool, hitting the bottom a bit after the end of the millenium.

During the warming part of this cycle it is normal for the ice caps to melt and ocean levels to rise. During the cooling part, it is normal for the ice caps and glaciers to grow and for the ocean to again get lower.

This has been going on for at least the last 12,000 years. (Probably longer, but there's direct evidence of it going on that long.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 2:29 PM on November 25, 2001

SDB, you're misrepresenting that study and its implications. First, it was only one study, so we can't say with factual certainty this cycle exists, just that convincing evidence was found, and future studies may confirm this cycle. If man-made global warming deniers are going to play the "it's still just conjecture" game, then turnabout is fair play. This is just one study...

Second, that article does not suggest the warming/cooling cycle explains all climate variations, or eliminate the possibility that the cycle was balanced but our man-made impact is enough to knock the cycle off its axis (er, so to speak). You state that "it is normal for the ice caps to melt and ocean levels to rise". Perhaps, but to this degree? A normal healthy human being will have chemical and biological cycles going on in their body all the time, from blood sugar to hormones. But if they took some steroids and their hormonal levels began to drastically alter, a doctor wouldn't simply dismiss it offhand as "Well, the body has these cycles, you see, so all variations must just be part of that cycle. Please see the receptionist to pay your bill..."

Similarly, my heart and yours beat quite regularly, slowing and speeding up at different times and situations. But if I stuck my finger in a wall outlet and my heart rate shot up to 200 bpm, you wouldn't describe this as a natural and easily disregarded part of my heart's cycle- you'd recognize it's an aberration that suggests a problem has occured. If I'm lucky, my heart and I recover- and I learn never to stick my finger in a wall socket again. If I'm not lucky, I die.

The question here is: has a problem occured? Have we as a species stuck the earth's finger into an ecological wall socket? This as-yet-unconfirmed study has no real relevance to that question. Even if it is true that the earth has warming and cooling cycles, this is ancillary to the discussion of what may be extreme swings in warming and ice cap melting, swings that quite possibly are caused by our own actions as a species. I don't see anywhere in that study where it suggests that every 1500 years, the Tuvalu Islands disappear, eh?
posted by hincandenza at 2:52 PM on November 25, 2001

Since I live in The Netherlands: hooray for dykes! All kinds of dykes!
posted by knutmo at 3:04 PM on November 25, 2001

No one's leaving just yet! This Earth Policy Institute press release is causing a mess a' trouble. The first time the Tuvalu story gets international media attention, it' sbase don total misinformation! Tuvalu is still drawing up plans for relocation, the bigger problem is the continual individual outmigration for economic reasons. (*)
posted by rschram at 3:18 PM on November 25, 2001

Hincadenza. the evidence being evaluated for this particular study was based on advance and retreat of the polar icecaps.

Second, this study provides evidence which agrees with previous studies done on tree rings and on glacier cores. All of them show the same changes at the same times.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:14 PM on November 25, 2001

Holy fuck, Hincandeza, that was fucking brilliant.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:28 PM on November 25, 2001

I don't see anywhere in SDB's comment any claims that :

The warming/cooling cycle explains all climate variations
That Tuvalu disappears every 1500 years
Or that he was dismissing man-made impact.

So hincandenza, your post just looks like a rant from here.
posted by Catch at 4:42 PM on November 25, 2001

Looks like they're saying Lower Manhattan's gonna flood too. I hope 105th St's high enough up to avoid the flood.
posted by QrysDonnell at 5:40 PM on November 25, 2001

It was a rant, but a meaningful one, Catch. SDB wouldn't have posted his initial comment just as a non sequitor- I think it's entirely reasonable to believe he posted that as a "rebuttal" to the notion that man-made global warming is to blame for fluctuations in rising sea levels, specifically in Tuvalu (if that wasn't what he was implying, then why did he post that?). My response was to dismiss that factoid as not relevant, and the reasons why being that even if the cycle theory was true it doesn't a) explain all climate variations and wouldn't be relevant to Tuvalu unless b) Tuvalu is threatened by rising sea levels every 1500 years, which requires that c) there is no man-made correlation to the rising sea levels since they are purely based on the sun.

SDB, I'm not saying that the cycle theory isn't without merit, just that as of now it stills remains a theory- perhaps a convincing or believable one, somewhat corroborated by the tree rings. But still a theory... ;)
posted by hincandenza at 5:47 PM on November 25, 2001

Well, researching the 'seal level' phenomenon with regards to Manhattan I found this PDF file. Which has this tragic quote "the foundtations of the World Trade Center would be vulderable to nearly annual flooding in the worst-case scenario by the year 2100".

Too bad that the reality was far worse than the 'worst-case scenario'.
posted by QrysDonnell at 5:48 PM on November 25, 2001

Bond said the Earth's temperature is still recovering from the Little Ice Age, when ocean temperatures dropped by two to three degrees.

In other words, according to this study, the Earth's temperature can be expected to regress to a mean about 2 -3 degrees warmer than the period ending in 1890.

So the last "Ice Age" cycle ended exactly when alarmists say the greenhouse effect kicked in due to industrialization. Coincidence?

This actually trashes hincandenza's "heart rate" analogy, since the cycle predicted by the study appears to coincide exactly with the availble data - hardly the heart-rate spike he postulates.
posted by mikewas at 9:39 PM on November 25, 2001

Hincadenza, it also is corroborated by the historical record. The last cold point, according to the record from sea deposits and the other physical indications, coincides with what is known as the mini-ice-age, a period about 600 years ago when the climate in Europe got considerably colder. (The records don't really exist elsewhere, but the records from Europe are very clear on that.) The mini-ice-age is generally considered to have lifted at about the beginning of the 18th century.

The weather a thousand years ago was definitely much warmer than it was about 600 years ago. Right now we're getting back approximately to what it was about a thousand years ago.

Also, dramatic changes in ocean level are a fact of life. In the Carribean there is a limestone cave system, full of stalactites and stalagmites, with lots of bat guano on the floor. The only thing about it is that it's something like a hundred feet below sea level and completely filled with salt water. Scuba divers have been exploring it.

Stalactites and stalagmites can only form in an air-filled cave, and so far as anyone knows bats can't swim (and certainly can't breath under water). Evidently at one time the sea level was far lower than it is now, and that cave was air-filled. And it must have been like that for a very long time, because the process of formation of stalactites is very slow.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:20 PM on November 25, 2001

For those who think that the solar cycle study explains recent global warming without the need to invoke industrial greenhouse gases, let me quote the lead author:

"That should make us that much more worried about greenhouse warming."

Emphasis mine.
posted by anewc2 at 4:34 AM on November 26, 2001

The fun thing about chaotic weather systems is that tweaking them can cause unexpected results--like global warming triggering a series of events that throws us into another ice age.
posted by gimonca at 7:47 AM on November 26, 2001

Those last two comments, this is what I was trying to say: that global weather cycles that pre-date the industrial age only should make us more concerned about knocking those cycles out of their ebb-and-flow balance by introducing factors that didn't exist 12,000 or more years ago.
posted by hincandenza at 1:13 PM on November 26, 2001

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