Strange as it may sound, I’m wary of proclamations by climate change alarmists for many of the same reasons I’m wary of Donald Trump. Although it would be beyond the layperson’s capacity to investigate every claim and prove its falsity, a limited collection of exaggerations and outright untruths gives reason to suspect that a sort of sine function applies — that the ratio of truth to untruth will remain generally the same no matter how large the claim.
On the climate change front, I have in mind this AP article by Seth Borenstein, with local flavor added by Providence Journal reporter Alex Kuffner:
In Rhode Island, according to measurements taken at the tide gauge in Newport, sea levels have risen 10 inches since 1929. And the rate of increase is picking up, said Grover Fugate, executive director of the state Coastal Resources Management Council. Waters are expected to rise another foot in the next 20 years. And by 2100, the levels could be seven feet higher, according to new estimates adopted by the CRMC last month to account for the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
I’ve taken this particular data point up before, and the bottom line is that, whatever one can say about the Newport sea level over the past century, it simply isn’t credible to claim the “rate of increase is picking up.” If we take Borenstein’s mention of 1993, for example, and apply it just to Newport, with the assumption that its rate of increase will continue for a century, we’d have a large increase, yes. But if we were to start the measurement in 1998, one could just as easily claim that the sea levels will drop dramatically over one hundred years. The latest one-fifth of the last century has been relatively stagnant, which is not a synonym for “accelerating.”
The assumption that one could find similar flaws in the global data receives some justification in the degree to which the advocates quoted in the article extend their claims. The article provides no evidence beyond mere coincidence for the repeated insistence that rising seas are being caused by the use of fossil fuels. Yet that insistence is not once qualified with doubt, and we’re supposed to trust this subgroup of scientists, filtering information through this medium of information, to tell the “detective story” of sea levels throughout human history?