The night was almost four years ago. Candidate Obama had defeated John McCain. This victory was to introduce a new and magnificent period of “hope and change” to America. The bad old Republicans and their money grubbing ways had been swept into the past. The changes to come would be breathtaking! There would be so much hope and so much change that, according to the new President his election signaled that “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”. Whether he actually believed what he said or not, the statement was intended to impress. This proclamation was nothing more than a corpulent bloviation meant for the teary eyed, gullible people who might believe such things were possible. To even imply that his election to the Presidency could in some way stop the oceans from rising was a comical statement worthy of the best of Saturday Night Live. I’m afraid to some it actually had real meaning.
Abundant, accessible and affordable energy is the glue that binds civilizations together and enables them to adhere to policies that encourage growth and prosperity. In his three and one half years as President, Mr. Obama has categorically shown that he is totally opposed to expanding our abundant, accessible and affordable energy industry. Heblocked the building of the XL pipeline. He promised to open up offshore drilling sites off the east coast and then threw up all kinds of road blocks to prevent it. His EPA is activelyat war with the coal industry and is doing everything it can to shut the whole thing down.
Fossil fuel energy sources have propelled the American economy to unprecedented stellar heights over the last 100 years. Now in the fall of 2012 we are on the precipice of possibly re-electing the only United States President ever who is passionately dedicated to dismantling the entire energy system. This is unprecedented and extremely dangerous. And yet those who will vote for him again seem to be completely oblivious to it. If President Obama is granted another term his weapon of choice will be the same he has embraced in his first term, man made global warming and the rising oceans it will cause.
I have given many lectures and slide shows about global warming. In the question and answer period after the program one of the most common questions is “How can you deny man made global warming when we know that sea levels are rising?” My answer often surprises people. Sea level rise has been going on for the better part of 20,000 years. The people I speak to appear to be completely unaware of this. Part of the reason is that they watch network “news” programs, read newspapers and magazines that are not interested in science, they are interested in ratings and readers. There are those television programs that appear to be objective documentaries. These programs are pseudoscientific sources of disinformation, largely laced with direct input from anti-fossil fuel industry environmental groups, giving people the impression that sea level rise is a recent development caused by our use of fossil fuels. These programs insist that if we continue to use fossil fuels as an energy source the oceans will rise at an increasingly rapid rate and devour vast sections of land and cities. Throughout these programs there is the ever present spinning windmill. To the uninformed these messages and images are very powerful and persuasive. When I demonstrate to people that sea level has been rising for a very long time and that the rate of rise is not accelerating there is usually a shocked silence.
The last Ice Age was at its maximum about 21,000 years ago. Due to the fact that so much of the world’s water was locked up as ice on the continents, sea level on earth was about 400 feet lower than it is today. This is a well recognized scientific fact. As the Ice Age began to end and the ice began to melt the water from the melt began to re-fill the oceans. It was at about 10,000 years ago that the Ice Age was over and the earth entered the Interglacial or a warmer time between the Ice Ages. However, even after the Ice Age was over, sea level continued to rise rapidly for another 3,000 years before slowing significantly around 7,000 years ago. Even though the rate of rise has slowed in the last 70 centuries it has continued to rise. No number of presidential speeches or executive orders will have any effect on that rate of rise.
Tidal gauge data collected from around the world over the last 120 years show an average sea level rise rate of about 8 inches per century. Satellite derived sea level dataaccumulated since 1993 show a rise of about 2.9 millimeters per year or a rate of about 11 inches per century. Neither the tide gauge data nor the satellite data show any acceleration in the rate of rise. If our use of fossil fuels is causing accelerating global warming, which the temperature data for the last 14 years says it is not, we should see clear evidence that sea level rise is not only continuing but accelerating. It is not. No matter how many computer models say it should be accelerating, no matter how many television programs say it is and polar bears are drowning, no matter how many environmental groups insist the oceans are going to flood the coasts of the world, the actual real world measured sea level data is the only truth in the story, period.
In fact the real world data shows that sea level rise has slowed during the last few years. This is not because of the president’s declaration. It’s due to the domination of La Ninasince 2007. The cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean is the chilly sister of El Nino known as La Nina. This cooling of the ocean causes the ocean itself to contract in size and depth. This causes sea level rise to slow or even stop for a time. La Nina can last one to two years. La Nina has cooled and shrunk the Pacific Ocean since 2007. The Pacific is the largest ocean in the world and when it rises or falls it has a significant impact on the global rate of sea level rise. But that is not the end of it.
The measure of sea level rise with satellites started in 1993. During this time the Pacific Ocean was in what’s called the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation that actually started in the mid 1970s. The warm and cool phase of the Pacific Ocean are long term cycles of water temperature that generally last from 25 to 35 years. During the time that the Pacific is in the cool phase, La Nina events outnumber El Nino by two to one and the El Nino events are weaker and shorter. In the warm phase El Nino dominates. With warm El Nino waters dominating the 1990s and into the early 2000s sea level rise was at a faster rate than previously measured by tide gauges. That has now changed. Now that the Pacific is back in the cool phase the Pacific is cooling and shrinking and this is having an effect on the world’s temperature and oceans.
The cooler phase of the Pacific has reduced the rate of sea level rise. This slower rate of rise will likely continue until sometime around 2030 to 2035 when this cool phase ends. Even now with no measured global warming for nearly 15 years and the rise of the oceans slowing to a crawl it should be obvious that we have no control over the earth’s temperature or the oceans rate of rise or fall.
India just experienced the largest power outage in the history of the world with over 670,000,000 in the dark! That is more than twice the United States population! For us perhaps the images of the chaos and disorder associated with this historic event will shock lawmakers into reality about our future energy needs. With world energy demand increasing in the near and long term future, such occurrences may become more frequent if the current administrations anti-fossil fuel policies are given another chance in November. It happened in India, are we next?
I am cautiously optimistic that there are enough people in this great nation that will see the enormous potential for another period of rapid economic growth if we elect the right man and the right party. Our recent fossil fuel discoveries and re-invigoration of older energy bearing regions of the country with new technologies offers a light at the end of this very dark and frightening tunnel that we are in. If we make the wrong turn now, in this pivotal moment in our nations history we are almost surly destined to be lost in maze of poorly thought out “renewable energy” disasters that will accelerate the bankruptcy of our country. The economic benefit of fully exploiting the energy we have here at home could be the only way out of the tunnel. I for one do not want Mr. Obama and his EPA leading the way. Over the long term the oceans will probably keep rising, the big question is, will we?