Sometimes I read news about environmental issues that seems concerning, or interesting, or significant.  And sometimes I read stuff like this that just seems far too ridiculous to even be taken seriously.  This particular piece sites research that claims Wilmington’s riverfront will be under water by 2030 – just 17 years from now – and that the whole city could be mostly under water by 2100.  And Wilmington’s not alone.  Boston, Miami, Savannah, and 1100 other cities and towns across the country could face the same fate.

On the face of it, that seems like a pretty remarkable change in sea level, but it’s not the dramatic nature of the story that makes me skeptical.  It’s graphs like this one, showing that the sea level hasn’t actually risen in Wilmington over the last 20 years at all.  Or maps like this that show almost nowhere in America has seen the sea level rise over the last 20 years, either.  Those are actual numbers, not predictions. Or this study, that cast serious doubt on the notion that Greenland’s ice cap is melting more quickly.  Or findings like these.

Commenting on these findings, Boretti writes that the huge deceleration of SLR (Sea Level Rise) over the last 10 years “is clearly the opposite of what is being predicted by the models,” and that “the SLR’s reduction is even more pronounced during the last 5 years.” To illustrate the importance of his findings, he notes that “in order for the prediction of a 100-cm increase in sea level by 2100 to be correct, the SLR must be almost 11 mm/year every year for the next 89 years,” but he notes that “since the SLR is dropping, the predictions become increasingly unlikely,” especially in view of the facts that (1) “not once in the past 20 years has the SLR of 11 mm/year ever been achieved,” and that (2) “the average SLR of 3.1640 mm/year is only 20% of the SLR needed for the prediction of a one meter rise to be correct.” (emphasis added)

The John Locke Foundation’s Roy Cordato has written extensively about these sorts of studies that cast serious doubt on the worst doom-and-gloom environmental predictions.  I’ll follow where the evidence leads, but on sea level rise, when looking at actual data rather than models, it seems there’s little reason for serious concern.