Rising sea or sinking land?

Isle de Jean Charles, LouisianaSixteen states’ attorneys general (and one from the US Virgin Islands) are currently in the process of subpoenaing Exxon-Mobil and conservative/ libertarian think-tanks for internal information they assert will show the so-called “climate deniers” have colluded to deceive the public regarding climate change.

Rising sea level is a perennial bone of contention among climate-change alarmists. In a recent interview, TV personality Bill Nye “the science guy” stated “the first climate-change refugees” were being rescued from a sinking village in a Louisiana bayou.

Rising sea level, allegedly driven by man-made global warming, is often theorized by warmists as the culprit causing shore-line erosion worldwide. But natural processes, not a hypothesized CO2-driven sea rise, play the dominant role.

The Biloxi-Choctaw villagers on Isle de Jean Charles, La., are not unique in their predicament, being subject to frequent flooding. Adversity faces some residents living on coral atolls in the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu both in the South Pacific and on certain Maldives islands in the Indian Ocean.

For centuries Venice, Italy, has contended with waters from the Adriatic, rising into its iconic canals. Actually the land under the city is slowly sinking by a natural process referred to as “subsidence.” The sheer weight of the ancient city forces out water from underlying sediments and the compaction results in subsidence. Coastal areas where sea water encroaches onto adjoining land, are more properly described, not as examples of “sea level rise” (SLR) but as “relative sea level rise” (RSLR), as measured by tide gauges. As land sinks, the ocean appears to rise.

Subsidence is the principal cause for flooding and shoreline erosion at the mentioned locations and other places as well. The open ocean continues to rise at only 6-7 inches per century averaged on a millennial scale.

An article in National Geographic describes how Pacific coral atolls are shaped by storms. Surprisingly, most are not losing their land area. Corals grow fast enough to keep pace with RSLR as they deposit new shell material, maintaining an optimal level for the growing reef. Then as major storms inflict physical damage to the structure, broken coral fragments are gathered by wave action to anchor new land along the lee of the atoll. Commonly more material is added to the atoll than is lost to deeper surrounding water.

It’s not uncommon for low-lying islands like coral atolls to form, disappear (partially or completely), then re-form as corals adapt to change. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has existed for millions of years and survived numerous assaults, including rise and fall of sea level on at least four occasions during the past million years. Nature is indeed resilient.

But what of the fate of humans living on land a few feet above high tide? What can be done?

Read rest…