Fear Not Rising Temperatures or Ocean Levels

Dominick T. Armentano writes at the Independent Institute Are Temperatures and Ocean Levels Rising Dangerously? Not Really. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.  H/T John Ray

There are two widely held climate-change beliefs that are simply not accurate. The first is that there has been a statistically significant warming trend in the U.S. over the last 20 years. The second is that average ocean levels are rising alarmingly due to man-made global warming. Neither of these perspectives is true; yet both remain important, nonetheless, since both are loaded with very expensive public policy implications.

To refute the first view, we turn to data generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the relevant years under discussion. The table below reports the average mean temperature in the continental U.S. for the years 1998 through 2019*:

1998 54.6 degrees
1999 54.5 degrees
2000 54.0 degrees
2001 54.3 degrees
2002 53.9 degrees
2003 53.7 degrees
2004 53.5 degrees
2005 54 degrees
2006 54.9 degrees
2007 54.2 degrees
2008 53.0 degrees
2009 53.1 degrees
2010 53.8 degrees
2011 53.8 degrees
2012 55.3 degrees
2013 52.4 degrees
2014 52.6 degrees
2015 54.4 degrees
2016 54.9 degrees
2017 54.6 degrees
2018 53.5 degrees
2019 52.7 degrees

*National Climate Report – Annual 2019

It is apparent from the data that there has been no consistent warming trend in the U.S. over the last 2 decades; average mean temperatures (daytime and nighttime) have been slightly higher in some years and slightly lower in other years. On balance–and contrary to mountains of uninformed social and political commentary—annual temperatures on average in the U.S. were no higher in 2019 than they were in 1998.

The second widely accepted climate view—based on wild speculations from some op/ed writers and partisan politicians–is that average sea levels are increasing dangerously and rationalize an immediate governmental response. But as we shall demonstrate below, this perspective is simply not accurate.

There is a wide scientific consensus (based on satellite laser altimeter readings since 1993) that the rate of increase in overall sea levels has been approximately .12 inches per year.

To put that increase in perspective, the average sea level nine years from now (in 2029) is likely to be approximately one inch higher than it is now (2020). One inch is roughly the distance from the tip of your finger to the first knuckle. Even by the turn of the next century (in 2100), average ocean levels (at that rate of increase) should be only a foot or so higher than they are at present.

NYC past & projected 2020

None of this sounds particularly alarming for the general society and little of it can justify any draconian regulations or costly infrastructure investments. The exception might be for very low- lying ocean communities or for properties (nuclear power plants) that, if flooded, would present a wide-ranging risk to the general population. But even here there is no reason for immediate panic. Since ocean levels are rising in small, discrete marginal increments, private and public decision makers would have reasonable amounts of time to prepare, adjust and invest (in flood abatement measures, etc.) if required.

But are sea levels actually rising at all? Empirical evidence of any substantial increases taken from land-based measurements has been ambiguous. This suggests to some scientists that laser and tidal-based measurements of ocean levels over time have not been particularly accurate.

For example, Professor Niles-Axel Morner (Stockholm University) is infamous in climate circles for arguing–based on his actual study of sea levels in the Fiji Islands–that “there are no traces of any present rise in sea levels; on the contrary, full stability.” And while Morner’s views are controversial, he has at least supplied peer reviewed empirical evidence to substantiate his nihilist position on the sea-level increase hypothesis.

The world has many important societal problems and only a limited amount of resources to address them. What we don’t need are overly dramatic climate-change claims that are unsubstantiated and arrive attached to expensive public policies that, if enacted, would fundamentally alter the foundations of the U.S. economic system.

DOMINICK T. ARMENTANO is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and professor emeritus in economics at the University of Hartford (CT).

Update Dec.11: USCRN Comparable Temperature Results

In response to Graeme Weber’s Question, this information is presented:

Anthony Watts:

NOAA’s U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) has the best quality climate data on the planet, yet it never gets mentioned in the NOAA/NASA press releases. Commissioned in 2005, it has the most accurate, unbiased, and un-adjusted data of any climate dataset.

The USCRN has no biases, and no need for adjustments, and in my opinion represents a ground truth for climate change.

In this graph of the contiguous United States updated for 2019 comes out about 0.75°F cooler than the start of the dataset in 2005.

See Also Fear Not For Fiji

Setting the Global Temperature Record Straight

Turtles Vs. Trump

Apologies for the image; I couldn’t find one with turtles wearing lawyers suits.  Again it is ambulance chasers with legal training targeting deep pockets, as explained in USA Today article Trump administration sued for failing to protect green sea turtles from climate change.  Excerpts on this latest example of climate derangement syndrome are in italics with my bolds.

Several environmental groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming several agencies in the Trump administration have failed to protect green sea turtle habitat as required by the Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, says the turtles’ nesting beaches in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as their ocean habitat, face threats from sea level rise brought on by climate change and plastic pollution, according to a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs.

Other plaintiffs are the Sea Turtle Oversight Protection and the Turtle Island Restoration Network. The lawsuit asks the court to rule that several federal agencies are in violation of the Endangered Species Act and order them to designate sites – unspecified as yet –as critical habitat for the turtles.

Defendants include:

Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
Margaret Everson, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for fisheries at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
National Marine Fisheries Service
A UPS driver started posting dog pictures in 2013:It’s now a viral sensation with 1.6M likes

Climate change, sea level rise
The lawsuit acknowledges that green sea turtle populations have been on a general increase over the last few years, but notes the National Marine Fisheries Service and Fish & Wildlife Service found in 2016 that threats from climate change and sea level rise mean the turtles still need protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The act prohibits federal agencies from authorizing activities that will destroy or harm a listed species’ critical habitat.

Floridians should be proud of how far we’ve come with green sea turtle recovery, but the fight’s not over yet,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now the feds have to step up and ensure that sea turtles have safe passage to nest on our beaches. These imperiled animals can’t afford any more delays.”

Green turtle populations around the world are listed as either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.



A 144-pound sea turtle was rescued by Indian River County police after being struck by a boat.

Sea Level Rise: Just the Facts

The Maldives–Poster Child for rising Sea Levels

The three most mentioned evils of rising CO2 are Rising Temperatures, Declining Sea Ice and Rising Sea Levels.  Plateaus presently appearing in the first two have been discussed a lot here and elsewhere.  This post gives what you need to know about Sea Level alarms.

Sea level rise (according to NASA)

Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.

Dave Burton takes us underneath the hype and exposes the facts.  Below is his post originally at Tom Fuller’s website. David Burton puts it all in perspective from his location on the coast of North Carolina.  Much more info on sea levels is available at Dave’s own website linked below.

Sea-level rise is not accelerating, and has not accelerated since the 1920s.

There are about sixty good-quality, 100+ year records of sea-level around the world, and they all show the same thing: there has been no statistically significant acceleration (increase) in the rate of sea-level rise in the last 85 years or more. That means anthropogenic CO2 emissions do not measurably affect sea-level rise, and predictions of wildly accelerated sea-level rise are based on superstition, not science.

Here are two very high quality sea-level measurement records, one from the Pacific and one from the Atlantic:

With atmospheric CO2 at 0.040% by volume, globally averaged sea-level rise at the coasts is just under +1.5 mm/year.

When atmospheric CO2 was at 0.031% by volume, globally averaged sea-level rise at the coasts was just under +1.5 mm/year.

The difference is that climate alarmists think the current +1.5 mm/year is catastrophic and caused by human release of CO2, and the +1.5 mm/year 85 years ago was natural and inconsequential.

However, the similarity between the two numbers — the catastrophic 1.5 mm/yr and the inconsequential 1.5 mm/yr — has confused even some liberals into backing away from the One True Climate Faith. Even President Obama’s former Undersecretary for Science, Steven Koonin, has written that:

“Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today.”

Sea-level didn’t actually rise 3.39 mm last year, at the coasts.

That 3.39 mm number is from satellite altimetry measurements of the open ocean, inflated by the addition of model-derived GIA estimates. It has little relation to anything that matters.

Most fundamentally, satellite altimeters measure the wrong thing. Their measurements are distorted by “sea-level rise” caused by thermal expansion when the upper layer of the ocean warms. But that is a strictly local effect, which doesn’t affect the quantity of water in the oceans, and doesn’t affect sea-level elsewhere (e.g., at the coasts).

Sea-level rise only matters at the coasts, but satellite altimeters are incapable of measuring sea-level at the coasts. Tide gauges measure sea-level at the coasts, where it matters, and their data is of much higher quality.
The best tide-gauge records of sea-level measurements are nearly ten times as long as the combined satellite measurement record, and twenty times as long as any single satellite measurement record, and the tide-gauge records are trustworthy.

The satellite measurements of sea-level are not. They are subject to a long list of potential distortions, and vary considerably from one satellite to another.

Steve Case has documented how U.Col. has revised their satellite “measurements” of sea-level over the years:

The Envisat numbers were revised even more dramatically. Subsequent revisions to data up to ten years after it was recorded approximately tripled the rate of sea-level rise “measured” by Envisat.

NASA is aware of the problems with satellite measurements, and they’ve proposed a new mission called the Geodetic Reference Antenna in SPace (GRASP) to try to improve matters. However, that mission has not been funded.

References and additional information is here: http://www.sealevel.info/

Footnote February 23, 2016

Dave Burton warned us above about superstitious sea level rises to come.  Prime example comes in Scientific American article gone viral in mass media.  The abstract of the study:

We present the first, to our knowledge, estimate of global sea-level (GSL) change over the last ∼3,000 years that is based upon statistical synthesis of a global database of regional sea-level reconstructions. GSL varied by ∼±8 cm over the pre-Industrial Common Era, with a notable decline over 1000–1400 CE coinciding with ∼0.2 °C of global cooling. The 20th century rise was extremely likely faster than during any of the 27 previous centuries. Semiempirical modeling indicates that, without global warming, GSL in the 20th century very likely would have risen by between −3 cm and +7 cm, rather than the ∼14 cm observed. Semiempirical 21st century projections largely reconcile differences between Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections and semiempirical models.

My bolding is to draw attention to the basis in models not observations.  Further they say half the projected rise is due to thermal expansion which is a local effect not appearing at the coastline or on tidal gauges.

In ancient times people built idols in their own images and worshiped them to ensure more favorable weather and prosperity. Today those icons take the form of computer models whose prophecies are sure to scare the bejesus out of us.