This Alex Kuffner article on flooding in Wickford is highly misleading — so misleading, in fact, that the online editor gave it the completely unsubstantiated (i.e., false) headline, “Tidal flooding in North Kingstown’s Wickford is result of rising seas.” Here’s the text that one has to read carefully in order to correctly understand what the journalist is claiming:
For a glimpse of a future of higher seas, Rhode Islanders have to look no further than Wickford village during a king tide. …
These types of minor floods were once treated as nothing more than isolated events during king tides, which occur once or twice a year when the alignments of the sun, earth and moon maximize the gravitational pull on the oceans. But now climate scientists and coastal planners see so-called “nuisance flooding” as a harbinger of what’s to come as the seas continue to rise.
The article provides no indication that these king tides have become more frequent or intense, which it surely would if it were possible to make such a claim. In other words, the message of this front-page article in the state’s major daily newspaper is: “We should all be afraid that this perfectly ordinary occurrence is an example of something that might happen more often in the future.”
This isn’t news; it’s propaganda. The fact is that tide measurements in Newport show no increase at all over the last 20 years and a decrease so far this decade. Maybe that’s a pause before rising tides begin again or maybe not. Whatever the case, it would be reasonable to suggest that those reading Kuffner’s article are apt to come away with precisely the opposite conclusion from the truth, using recent numbers.