back to article Last time CO2 was this high, the world was underwater? No actually

OK, so levels of atmospheric CO2 are rising through 0.0004 (or 400 parts per million) at the moment. Disaster, right? The last time the world saw carbon levels like this, some three million years ago, the mighty ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic had melted from the heat and the seas were 35 metres higher than they are …


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  1. localzuk Silver badge


    I only have a rudimentary understanding of plate techtonics and glacial movement, and even I know that the surface of the planet moves up and down as the plates shift.

    Sure, its not like we wake up daily and find the beach is now a mountain, but over billions of years, things change.

    Very odd that scientists have supposedly ignored this.

    However! Is this guy saying that in a mere 3 million years, the surface has moved by 35m? Really? Seems a lot in that short a time frame.

    1. g e

      Re: Really?

      I make that 11.6 microns per year... not exactly mind-bendingly fast

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      35m in 3 million years is 11 micrometres / year

      Tectonic plates move at around 1-10 centimetres / year

      Not fast really - it's just a *long* time...

    3. Lee D

      Re: Really?

      If in doubt, do a quick Google.

      "In the Upper Cretaceous (84 Ma), the Indian plate began its very rapid northward drift at an average speed of 16 cm/year, covering a distance of about 6000 km, until the collision of the northwestern part of the Indian passive margin with Eurasia in early Eocene time (48-52 Ma). Since that time and until today, the Indian continent continues its northwards movement at a slower but still surprisingly fast rate of ~ 5 cm/year.

      So the Himalayas started to grow into a mountain range about 50 million years ago."

      So, yes, I'd say that's plausible, given that 50m years ago we didn't have the Himalayas and now they have the world's highest mountain on them. In 3m years, by comparison, a few metres seems to be nothing.

    4. Graham 24

      35m in 3M years is slow..

      The whole Himalayan mountain range (including small hills like Everest and K2) is only 50 million years old. They are basically the "crease" caused by India moving north very fast (in plate tectonic terms) north at 5cm per year, and crashing into Asia.

    5. t.est

      Re: Really?

      That's not a lot considering that land is rising with up-to 1 cm / year in Scandinavia. Just during my 30 years I can see the difference.

      35m is only 35 000 cm. So that is a average of 10 micro meters per year to accomplish that.

      But as you say scientist ignores unfortunately a lot of factors, no different situation in this one.

      1. AceRimmer

        Re: Really?


      2. vonBureck

        Re: Really?

        >>> That's not a lot considering that land is rising with up-to 1 cm / year in Scandinavia. Just during my 30 years I can see the difference.

        Just to be pedantically accurate, in Scandinavia that's primarily due to post-glacial rebound, not so much tectonic movements. However, it could well be that the same phenomenon applies to a some of the sea-rise data, so the point stands.

      3. paulc

        Re: Really?

        "That's not a lot considering that land is rising with up-to 1 cm / year in Scandinavia. Just during my 30 years I can see the difference."

        That would be the very slow rebound from all that ice from the last ice age having gone... Scotland's still rising as well.

        Can someone please get these looney scaremongering climatologists up to speed with modern geology... Plate Tectonics has been mainstream for decades now, what textbooks are they still using then? Ones from the 1950's?

    6. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      A "mere" 3 million years? The Himalayas were not around until the dinosaurs weren't: Everest is probably only about 60MY old (~20 times older than this) and it is now over 8.8km above sea level (~250 times more movement). Almost all human development has happened in the last 10% of this time, so just because you can say it quickly, don't forget to really think about how long it is.

    7. Ragarath

      Re: Really?

      Just to throw something else in, (and because I am not sure if it would make that much off a difference) would the fact that the moon would have been closer also have made a difference? With my calculations using the speed the moon is moving away today, it would have been 11Km closer 3 million years ago.

      Would this affect sea levels much? I am not sure can some astro boffin save my poor head?

      1. annodomini2

        Re: Really?

        114km assuming constant regression rate.

        The current distance is ~384,400km.

        So the difference is 0.03%

        1. Ragarath

          Re: Really? @ annosomini2

          Thanks for the correction. I missed a zero off when I typed in 3 million.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Ragarath Re: Really?

        " would have been 11Km closer 3 million years ago." Thumbs up for thinking outside the box, though I'm not really sure 11km would make so much difference.

        But at least you thought of it, so kudos to you. It seems the AGW crowd are so desperate to believe that they regularly "overlook" factors that have a negative impact on their faith. First it was clouds they overlooked in their climate models, now we have plate teutonics, all inconvenient truths (LOL!).

        On the Moon front, I'm reminded of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Pirates of Venus", where the hero's attempt at rocket flight to Mars is thrown off track by the mistake of forgetting to include the Moon in the calculations. It seems we have far too many scientists happily screaming about AGW without considering very basic and fundamental factors, and if we listen to them we're going to end up somewhere very different from where we intended, and I somehow don't think our "Venus" will have a beautiful princess as a consolation prize.

      3. Martin Budden

        Re: Really?

        A closer moon would increase the tidal range (lower low tides and higher high tides) and therefore also increase the rate of coastal erosion. A closer moon would have no effect on mean (mid-tide) sea level.

      4. Tom 13

        Re: Would this affect sea levels much?

        Sea levels per se, no. But you are on the right track for an important correction since what they are using as a proxy is the high tide level. And that will be affected, although I'm not sure how much.

        Another problem is knowing how the coastal shape has changed. There are parts of the New England coast with huge variations in sea level because a large amount of tide water is being forced into a narrow channel. Vary the channel width small amounts and you vary the tide height even more.

    8. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Really?

      I thought this was relatively well known also? Scotland is known to be rising and the South of England is sinking (perhaps due to the weight of all the wine bars?).

      This must have come up during peer review??

    9. rh587 Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      They haven't ignored them. When I studied Ocean Science back in 2005, "Earth Science 101" (Year 1, Semester 1, the real basic stuff) covered the differences between Isostatic and Eustatic change pretty comprehensively (Eustatic = local mean sea level as a result of both Isostatic Sea Level Change and rise/fall of the landmass, with tides averaged out; Isostatic = actual change in the ocean levels as a result of changing the volume of the oceans).

      It was looking at some of these improbable 30m tide marks that sparked off the development of glacial rebound theories in the first place!

      For instance, the Isle of Wight appears to be suffering from sea level rise (BBC South Today love doing Global Warming stories about it). It's not, the south of the UK is sinking as a result of Scottish glacial rebound. One of my lecturers had a right hissy fit over that. He rang up every time they did such a story and gave the editor some abuse

      "But we want a local global warming story"

      "Well this isn't it"

      "But we can't afford to fly to Bangladesh or the Netherlands and look at places within 1m of sea level which might actually disappear/become uninhabitable in the next century as a result of even quite modest SLR"

      "Well stop with the bad science"


      There are points which are *relatively* stationary because the tectonic plates are rotating around that point, or it happens to be at the middle of the see-saw as continents rebound. These are used as datums to assess actual isostatic changes. This is known, and has been for some time. It may be some older papers did not (or could not) account for it accurately because they didn't have good geode models (SRTM or ASTER (GDEM)). Our understanding of the manner in which the earth's surface moves (and subsequently affects the volume of the ocean basins and local coastal height above sea level has come on leaps and bounds just in the past decade or so.

    10. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Really?

      I only have a rudimentary understanding of plate techtonics and glacial movement

      A couple of years working in government ought to fix that.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      (Strangely my first reply never seems to have made it on to the page)

      'Very odd that scientists have supposedly ignored this.'

      They've not ignored it, they didn't think there were significant changes in elevation on the Eastern Seaboard. The ES is considered a passive margin - that is it is effectively tectonically inert - it is not being actively rifted (like the Red Sea) and being extended; subducted and shortened (like the Pacific coast of South America); or sheared (like California). So geologists have previously treated the Mantle, which is at least 60km deep under the ES, as a rigid block in isostatic equilibrium. As such it was reasonable to assume high terraces and wave cut platforms were the result only of changes in sea level.

      However, improved seismic techniques have allowed them to calculate the velocity of waves passing through the Upper Mantle and it is not behaving homogeneously, instead some parts under the ES appear to be less dense suggesting the Upper Mantle under a passive margin is not entirely rigid and may be convecting slowly. This is likely to have surface effects, so some of the wave cut platforms along the ES have been pushed up by deep processes and are not wholly due to higher sea levels.

      What Lewis' article neglects to say is that the ES isn't the only evidence of high sea levels 3Mya in the World. It has been the benchmark (ahem) in the past because of its excellent exposure. But there are others. What will need to be done is to try and get a better estimate of the actual magnitude of the rise. This new knowledge has made that much harder.

      What I find interesting as a geologist is that the ES gets infrequent massive earthquakes which are poorly understood. This might help clarify the situation somewhat.

    12. Nigel 11

      Re: Really?

      There is evidence of sudden level changes in the form of certain estuaries. Sea level fell quite fast, geologically speaking, creating a new steep run for the river down into the sea. The resulting fast-moving water caused rapid erosion of a steep-sided valley. Then sea-level rose again, and the valley flooded with seawater, preserving its steep underwater form because erosion below the low-tide level is very slow. Take a look at Dartmouth or the Wye. It's very unlikely that the level of the UK land-mass could change fast enough to account for this.. The UK is geologically pretty stable (large earthquakes are rare, for example). The Andes are an example of rapidly-changing land levels - frequent catastrophic earthquakes, river-flows reversed in their valleys, and beaches raised tens of metres in mere thousands of years, as noted by Darwin. BTW glaciation creates a straight-ish U-shaped valley (or fjord), river erosion creates a wiggly V-shaped valley, so we can tell these southern estuaries aren't the result of glacier erosion.

      One can also calculate what sea-level will be if all the ice-caps melt. At the very least, that should put you off investing in any land or property anywhere near to present sea-level! More seriously, the worst-case scenario is so bad that I do think we ought to heed the precautionary principle before it's too late.

      Worst-case is permafrost thawing releasing methane causing global warming causing more permafrost thawing ... a positive feedback loop that won't stop until all the permafrost has thawed. There is geological evidence that such runaway warming events have happened several times in recent geological history. There is also geological evidence that the long-term stable (say 30Myear-average) situation for the Earth is with no large ice-caps at all and a MUCH warmer climate regulated by percentage cloud cover. Ice causes instability and positive feedback loops. We live in climatologically interesting times.

  2. jake Silver badge

    But ...

    ... can the study be used to fuel Al Gore's $LARGEJET?

    If yes, the study will be applauded. If no, I'll get several hundred "thumbs down".


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you get a thumbs down

      for trying to game the rating system

  3. Richard 81

    Oh dear

    Prince Charles isn't going to like this.

  4. hplasm


    The models were wrong? Say it's not so!

    GIGO- as true today as it's always been...

  5. graeme leggett

    Am I the only one

    who had assumed they had accounted for shifting of the rock itself, or that it wasn't an issue in this case?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scientific Theory

    Is not about proving that you are right, it's about not being proven wrong.

    All this Climate nonsense at the moment follows two camps. Those scientists who are trying to prove climate change exists and we're all going to wind up 50ft under water, and those who believe it doesn't exist, or at least not to the degree climate change believers make it appear.

    So far looking through these papers, the climate believers spend much of their time ignoring fact, skirting around subjects and manipulating data to prove their theories correct. The climate non-believers then release one paper along the lines of this, which doesn't skirt around the facts, doesn't prove climate change doesn't exist, but merely disproves that it exists to the degree the believer want you to think it exists.

    Personally I'm of the camp that climate change is mostly bunk. The earth revolves over millions of years, every now and then we move closer or further from the sun. Over time this changes weather patterns and that's most probably what's causing the current 'climate change' we're seeing.

    Has this theory been proven? Partially, it's been proven as a possibility. Has it been disproven? No, And that's what scientific theory is about.

    Of course I do agree with some points of the believers. I do believe that we should work to lower carbon emmisions, and we should work towards more carbon neutral or greener forms of energy production where capable. But this is simply for a health point of view, rather than a we're all going to die a watery death point of view.

    Also lewis what took you so long. It's been a day at least since that post about the crock cooks 'research'

    I mean seriously, his research is the kind of bullshit which gets us "9 out of 10 people who eat fried chicken say they really like fried chicken"

    The article may as well have been. "cook cherry picked a collection of studies by climate believers and found that the vast majority proved climate change was a real thing, ignoring the fact that many of those papers are almost identicle studies whcih have been disproven already"

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Scientific Theory

      Amazing. For a pretty balanced posting, why the 2 downvotes. The AGW followers are clearly downvoting anyone who even remotely claims or backs anything but AGW.

      Personally, I believe mankind has a built-in superiority complex that makes us believe we must be responsible for everything. That's not to say it's often true, but that doesn't make us responsible for absolutely everything. I've always believed that nature is far more powerful than we'll ever be. Volcanoes, earthquakes, weather etc. prove this.

      I don't really know what's happening with the climate at the moment, but I've not really seen anything credible (to the point of reasonably proven) from either side. Bearing in mind the state we're currently in, it seems rather stupid to be spending huge quantities of money on trying to stop something which is way too big for us to stop. It's also irrelevant as the majority of CO2 output in the future will come from countries with absolutely no intention of doing anything about it. So, why bankrupt outselves when we're going to have no or little effect?

      Better to simply roll with it. If the sea levels rise a bit, move inland some. If weather gets hotter or cooler, we can change things to accommodate. Rather than trying to keep earth exactly the same all the time and ideal for us, why don't we realise that the earth actually changes naturally and accept this. People thousands of years ago used to live WITH nature and accepted it's changing moods and simply moved with it. Now, we expect to change nature to keep it the same, something we can never do. We're living AGAINST nature.

      Now, none of this says that recycling or trying to save energy isn't the right way to go. We should, of course, try to conserve resources and live as sustainably as possible. However, we're burning money and bankrupting ourselves on things that will never really provide this or are too uneconomic. Wind turbines, smart meters etc. are all part of this. Without huge subsidies, they simply wouldn't fly. Let's do what we can in a sensible way and use the money left over to fund projects that will provide long term results and might actually make everyones lives better in the long run.

      1. JP19

        Re: Scientific Theory

        "mankind has a built-in superiority complex that makes us believe we must be responsible for everything"

        The complex is not about mankind being responsible it is about others being responsible. Talking the talk and making a few pathetically ineffective gestures allows you to point the finger of blame at and feel superior to anyone who isn't doing the same. Saving the entire planet - what better subject for a willy waving contest.

        Mankind's other big problem is the propensity to believe any old shite as long as enough others believe it - the foundation of all religion and look how popular that is.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: majority of CO2 output in the future will come from countries

        I think this is the bit that hacks me off the most about Warmists.

        That full statement isn't actually true. If we really were committed to reducing CO2 levels, there are legitimate, legal ways to go about it. Each country could for example pass laws stating that good imported from other countries had to come from factories that met Standard X for carbon emissions or face import taxes calculated to be double or treble the cost of putting the mitigation in place. And you can require that the mitigation be monitored by government employees from the importing not exporting country.

        Instead they make excuses for the major polluters to continue what they are doing. Sure there are tradeoffs. More pollution might mean more economic growth which could translate into fewer deaths from more easily controlled causes. It might even be immoral to choose CO2 reduction over killing humans. But it is a choice you could make.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scientific Theory

      I think you mis-understand how science works. I know quite a few climate scientists and every one of them would love to be able to prove that Global Warming isn't happening, why? Well, when you publish that paper, with definitive proof, you're made for life. It would be an Einstein or Galileo moment - you know, those handful of names in history who have overturned scientific orthodoxy?

      You also don't get funding for a piece of research if you write a proposal or title along the lines of "Prove that global warming is happening and that we're all going to end up 30m under water" that's just not how funding works.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scientific Theory

        No but writing a title of "Examining the corollation between CO2 levels and water levels over the past milennia" will get research funding, even though you've already pinholed exactly what you're researching.

        You aren't looking to provide evidence you're correct, you're applying the theory that you know exists. It's the same as teh cancer studies which find that 100% of people with cancer breath. It's a fact, but that doesn't mean the reverse is true and that cancer is caused by breathing. The same way CO2 levels and water rising aren't a good correlatory research subject. How do we know that a rise of sea level didn't affect CO2 levels by compressing the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere by taking up more of the atmospheric space.

        By which I mean you have a container of gas, you then introduce water to that container. The gas becomes compressed. Although the same total amount of gas remains the same, the concentration increases.

        These research papers aren't setting out to research whether Climate change is a factual occurance from a neutral stand point. They go out to prove that climate change is real, and in doing so they pigeonhole their research the same way a fanboy will pigeonhole his criticism of PS3 because he thinks xbox is a superior console.

      2. Steve Crook

        Re: Scientific Theory

        What has been missing until recently have been the scientists who had access to accurate data that would let them challenge some of the more uninformed guesses that were common during the 90s. This paper is one of several published recently that chips away at the idea of catastrophic climate change.

        Each time a paper shows that it's not as bad as we thought at first, it reinforces the opinions held by many economists that the measures being taken to mitigate climate change are almost certainly more costly than adapting to whatever change we will see.

        What will be most interesting will be to watch the reaction of the 'climate establishment' as they try and spin these results into "nothing to see here, move along".

      3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Scientific Theory

        ...I think you mis-understand how science works. I know quite a few climate scientists and every one of them would love to be able to prove that Global Warming isn't happening, why? Well, when you publish that paper, with definitive proof, you're made for life...

        You may be 'made for life', but you'll be out of a job!

        Of course, there ARE a number of climate scientists busily publishing papers showing that Global Warming theory has major holes in it. Lewis has just put a piece up advertising three of them. But they don't seem to be 'made for life'.

        And the Cook piece about 97% of scientists supporting AGW? Popular Technology blog has two of those scientists pointing out that their papers were classified as supporting AGW when in fact they were pointing out big errors in it.

        So I'm not sure I believe you when you say the Climate Scientists really want to disprove AGW. It rather looks as if any disproof of AGW will simply not be accepted....

        1. Gav

          Re: Scientific Theory

          "Popular Technology blog has two of those scientists pointing out that their papers were classified as supporting AGW when in fact they were pointing out big errors in it."

          What the papers were doing isn't the point. It would be folly to try to determine a simple yes/no consensus based on interpretation of papers. So the study wrote directly to the authors of each paper and asked them, directly ; "Humans are causing Global Warming: yes or no". That is what they based their results on.

          And there is a huge difference between suggesting global warming, the theory, has holes in it, and proving global warming, the phenomenon, isn't happening.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Those scientists who are trying to prove climate change exists

      Most climate scientists are, in contrast, far too busy trying to dazzle each other with the brilliance of their physical insight regarding climate processes to be bothered with taking a political stance one way or the other. :-)

    4. SDF1586

      Re: Scientific Theory

      Why do we want to reduce carbon emissions? It's plant food! Anyway how are you going to stop volcanoes, for one example, which are a natural source? Plants are at the lower end of the food chain and an integral part of the eco-system which supports animal life - including us. As a GHG water vapour is far more important and yet almost ignored in this argument about climate. When was the last time you heard anyone mention water vapour in this context? I know this argument generates a lot of steam! Though the sun gets pretty much overlooked too - which I find totally bizarre, particularly when one assumes we're dealing with intelligent people. Every ounce of common sense points at the sun and Earth's orbit as the main drivers of climate change. Or is it not trendy to say so? I don't think there's any such thing as an "unbeliever" where climate change is concerned. It's not a matter of belief is it? Climate changes with or without us, that's just a fact. I think the argument is about how much we've got to do with it. Outside of AGW pollution is a serious problem, particularly in the newest industrialized nations, but everyone has taken their eye off that ball because of the distractions from warmageddonites. Furthermore, every warming period within man's known history has coincided with prosperity and expansion. So, in a utopian world, the maths work out something like this: warmer climate equals richer and expanded plant life equals plentiful food supply equals higher survival rates plus surplus production equals trade expansion equals increased profits and higher wages equals higher living standards. Yippee! But then I suppose you have to add the negative factors all of which boil down to simple greed and jealousy and the lovely dream goes belly up...perhaps it IS time for another flood!!! ;-)

    5. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Scientific Theory @AC 08:01

      Your two camps of scientist are wrong.

      In general, all scientists from most related disciplines agree that climate change is happening. What is in debate is whether this change is caused by man, or whether it is natural, and how far/fast it will happen.

      I'm not a climate change sceptic. Climate change is happening, because it's always happened since the Earth formed. But how much change is caused by human impact, I'm not qualified to judge. It is probable that some is caused by us, but some is certainly natural.

      It's the people who think that the just pre-industrial age climate should be taken as a benchmark for the rest of time that get me annoyed, because they just don't understand anything. And the people who think that a statement like "well, the weather wasn't like this when I was young" means anything in regard to climate change need educating, preferably with a large learning-bat!

      I just wish that this debate was purely a scientific one. Once politicians got involved, it was always going to get messy and uncertain.

    6. Gav

      Re: Scientific Theory

      There are no "two camps".

      There are the vast majority of scientist who have actually studied climate and should know a thing or two about it. And then there are a number of people who haven't studied it, have no qualifications to demonstrate their opinion is of value, and base their proclamations on wishful thinking and guessing.

      A recent study that looked at published climate research over the last 20 years (you know, people actually studying actual climate facts) found that 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.

      Pretending there are "two camps", with evenly matched opinions worth consideration, would be laughable if it wasn't so desperately wrong.

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: Scientific Theory


        "Pretending there are "two camps", with evenly matched opinions worth consideration, would be laughable if it wasn't so desperately wrong."

        Simply slagging off the people you disagree with is the worst form of debate. Many, many times in history, the opinion of experts (and indeed groups of experts) has been shown to be wholly wrong. Given that many of today's 'experts' have also been shown to be manipulating the data in a somewhat less than open way (for instance in East Anglia) and why should we believe them. I'm not saying that some on the denier side have no case or rational thinking, but there are also some 'experts' who release reports which are hideously skewed and as said above, doctor the data.

        So, the reality is that both sides are guilty of misrepresentation and 'playing' the game. Even the figures you state are doing this. 97.1% say that humans are causing global warming? Well, if they did, they're all stupid. Of course humans are having an impact and therefore could be deemed to be 'causing global warming'. However, what they have so far failed to show is whether this impact is 1% or 99%. If it's at the lower end of this scale, we probably don't really care much. If it's at the top, we do.

        As has been stated many times before, the 'experts' constantly banging on about CO2 is also very unscientific. Yes, it may be the gas changing most in the atmosphere, but there are far more potent greenhouse gases changing as well that would cause more potential damage with their small changes, than with CO2s large change. However, that doesn't buy headlines does it. So, they go on about CO2 almost exclusively because they can quote large changes and big percentages which sound all better. Things such as methane and water vapour are a much bigger issue as greenhouse gases.

        1. Gav

          Re: Scientific Theory

          Simply slagging off people we disagree with is "the worst form of debate" ... but 97.1% of those in the debate are "all stupid". Hmmm....

          I don't believe I did "slag off" anyone. But I generally find if 97.1% of experts in a field are agreed on one thing, and 2.9% say other things, it's very, very usual for the 97.1% to be right. Harking on about times when the majority have been wrong is a red-herring. Most of the time they are right, that's what makes the times they have been wrong particularly notable. There is nothing yet to suggest that this is one of these times.

          The idea that you have noticed the effect of methane and water vapour, while 97.1% of climatologists either haven't considered this, or are wilfully ignoring it for their own selfish purposes, is insulting, ludicrous and very implausible. But I guess it might make sense if you believe they are "all stupid".

    7. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Scientific Theory

      ...I do believe that we should work to lower carbon emmisions, and we should work towards more carbon neutral or greener forms of energy production where capable. But this is simply for a health point of view...

      Why? Lower CO2 emissions are nothing to do with health!

      I would be with you if you said that we must stop emitting chemicals which are provably shown to cause damage. I think that it is likely that, other things being equal, we should work towards lowering emissions of chemicals which are alien to the local environment and might cause unwanted side effects, even if these are not fully understood yet.

      But our biosphere runs a major CO2 cycle. Just like the Water cycle. It's not an alien chemical, it's totally benign and, in fact essential for life. Put a bit more into the environment - the plants eat a bit more. Nobody is claiming that we should cut back on water vapour - CO2 is similar. It's only the activists who are trying to make CO2 into some kind of poison gas...

  7. Richard Wharram


    Cutting through the fluff, it's not that the sea levels definately didn't rise. It's just that we don't know.

    Or is there something I've missed?

    1. Lee D

      Re: So

      The default position of all science is "we don't know".

      The point is to step into parts we CAN know and say "we now know".

      That (supposedly) happened, but now someone else has said (more convincingly) "Actually, no. We don't know at all".

      So we're back to where we started, the default position of all science. The problem is that some people will have you believe that for the last 50 years we've "known" when actually we haven't. We're just now getting to the point where some people are getting annoyed, doing proper science and saying "See? You're talking rubbish."

      That's not to say the Earth isn't warming or the climate isn't changing. Those things are currently independent of some moron shouting their mouth off from bad data. Just because they say the sky is falling doesn't mean it is, or it isn't. Because they just DON'T KNOW.

  8. Thought About IT
    Thumb Down

    So, that's all right then!

    Anything less than 35 metres will be not be a problem - according to Lewis. Anything over 1 metre will flood most coastal cities, including London and New York.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, that's all right then!

      That's ok, it would be fairly trivial to move 90%* of the world's population away from the rising waters, no problem, job done.

      *Number pulled from my behind, although it's in this general region...

    2. Lee D

      Re: So, that's all right then!

      In the 50's the Thames level raised by 5.6 metres. Sure, it flooded in places. But it wasn't the end of the city by any means. Hence why we built the Thames barrier, because of that flood in particular.

      So, no, a 1m rise won't wash away London but will obviously have an effect. However, the places to watch are the Indonesian islands and Venice. Despite sinking land and rising seas, they are still around (and Venice sunk a LONG time ago).

      Nobody is saying that 1m isn't catastrophic either. Just that if you're 35 metres out (i.e. margin of error) on your historical sea level measurements, then how can we really trust your predictions of doom? 35m is the difference between being able to walk to a point where you can throw a stone and hit France, or most of the country being underwater - it's really not a measurement at all, thus your predictions based on that are really not worth listening to at all. That's the point.

      1. Thought About IT

        Re: So, that's all right then!

        One in four London properties, collectively worth around £250bn, are at risk of flooding, according to official assessments of the dangers now facing homes in England and Wales. Ten of the top 25 most at-risk local authority areas across England and Wales are now London boroughs, and that's before sea level rises by 1 metre.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So, that's all right then!

          Please tell me that the disaster plan for the London bankers is to hide in the basement in the threat of flooding!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So, that's all right then!

          well, at least we'll get more IT jobs in the North

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So, that's all right then!

        I'd throw in the huge deltas of the World - the Nile, Ganges/Brahmaputra, Indus, Mekong and Mississippi. They're very vulnerable to sea level change, they're densely populated, heavily industrialised, highly reliant on agriculture and fresh ground water. They're already vulnerable to storms and flooding, higher sealevels increase erosion, cause salination and allow storms to penetrate further inland and cause more damage.

    3. M.D.

      Re: So, that's all right then!

      "Anything over 1metre will flood most coastal cities,including London & New York"

      I love (not!) this kind of alarmist generalisation. A 1m rise may flood parts of many places, but surprisingly little. For example, Regents Park (pretty much central in London) sits at 41m and almost all of Manhattan sits at around 15m, except when you get out toward Harlem (where it starts rising rapidly).

      ...and where does this radical data come from? Well, that will be analysing contour lines on a map- tricky stuff I know but, astonishingly, it allows me to root my view in factual data not assertion.

      Generalisations from the FUD of climate-alarmists continually expose their tendency to make huge sweeping conclusions from select data - & then they wonder why we aren't all running around shouting "we're doomed" & are aghast when we DONT blindly agree with them!

      1. Alan_Peery

        And so why the flooding in NYC?

        > and almost all of Manhattan sits at around 15m

        I think you should take a look at what happened during Hurricane Sandy again.

        Even if 99% of Manhattan is at 15m or more (and it isn't, from a quick glance at topo marked in feet, taking out that 1% at the edges means your tunnels flood, your subway/metro floods, your buried high voltage switching systems get innundated, etc.

        1. Dan Paul

          Re: And so why the flooding in NYC?

          If that's the case, perhaps we should all consider the advantages of bringing on even more flooding so that NY Shitty and all of the Skinner Box assholes that live and breed there would simply get washed away in the resulting cleansing flood.

          You may want to look at the fact that Hurricane Sandy happened at high tide so whatever margin of safety that remained was used up when the storm arrived.

          Stupid people who rebuild where flooding is common knowledge should not be allowed to have insurance.

          You also might want to consider that the NYC Mob (politicians included) might have skimmed off all the cash that was supposed to be used to create a drainage system that actually worked in a hurricane.

          Again, all the more need for the great flood to wash away that cesspool called NY City.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: happened during Hurricane Sandy again.

          So you're claiming that AWG is immediately going to flood a full meter of water into Manhattan?

          Cause I thought this was a gradual thing that would take 25 to 50 years at least before we start to see it. If it is gradual, then over time that stuff will get moved as part of normal maintenance routines. Assuming of course we don't continue to irrationally allow people to rebuild in existing flood plains.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    " changes how people think about our past climate and what our future holds"

    Damm right too.

    So the takeway from this.

    Never rely on a single piece of evidence for making multi $Bn climate change mitigation decisions without studying the context.

    Is anyone else astonished that (in effect) the wall the marks were made on might have moved up a few metres in the previous 3 000 milenia and no one considered this?

    A big thumbs up for someone finally checking the assumptions behind the apparent evidence.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: " changes how people think about our past climate and what our future holds"

      The problem I have with both camps is that I no longer know who I can trust. I DO think we need to take more care, but the offered methods by which are often so stupidly ineffective that you know they're just supporting someone's agenda.

      What I DO know as fact is that our dear financial community has enthusiastically started flogging and trading carbon credits, a concept so nebulous it is almost guaranteed to incorporate large buckets of fraud (IMHO fuelling - pardon the pun- much of the aforementioned enthusiasm).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: " changes how people think about our past climate and what our future holds"

      Actually, the general scientific consensus for doing anything to the environment is "If we don't know what it's going to do and there's a risk, don't do it.", "If we're doing something and we don't know if it's safe, especially if there is any credible evidence it isn't, stop doing it."

      So, no, you don't wait for multiple proofs that something you're doing may well flood 90 odd % of the major cities in the world, you stop doing it before there is a problem and then research multiple proofs that it isn't a problem before continuing.

    3. NomNomNom

      Re: " changes how people think about our past climate and what our future holds"

      Ironically you are guilty of relying on a single piece of evidence!

      I doubt ice sheet stability has been measured solely by shorelines. I suspect the history of the ice sheets has been determined from other sources such as cores from the ice sheets for example.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: " changes how people think about our past climate and what our future holds"

        "I doubt ice sheet stability has been measured solely by shorelines. I suspect the history of the ice sheets has been determined from other sources such as cores from the ice sheets for example."

        except this is not about how stable an ice sheet is, it's about what happens to the water after it melts.

        The assumption has been so much water is melted that a "high tide" mark is left 10s of metres above it's current level.

        Which now turns out to be a very dubious conclusion.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: Is anyone else astonished that

      I suppose I should be. But after finding out that their initial models hadn't even made rudimentary attempts to control for variations in solar luminosity, no I'm not.

  10. Great Bu

    I'm unclear

    Are we saying that the time has come to crack open eachother's skulls and feast on the goo inside or not ?

    I could do with an answer fairly soon as I have a hair appointment tomorrow and would rather not waste my time if it's all going to be ruined by skull cracking.

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime

      Re: I'm unclear

      Your skull goo is safe - probably.

      I have dibs on your liver though.

      1. Great Bu

        Re: I'm unclear

        @Omgwtfbbqtime - You're welcome to the Liver but I should make you aware that it is only available on an 'As Is, Where Is' basis and that, as I am not a doctor, I cannot guarantee that it is operational or that the mileage indicated is an accurate reading..........

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime

          Re: I'm unclear

          That's ok, I'm not a chef but I thnk I can manage to panfry it.

          <---Now we're cooking on gas!

          1. Tom 13

            Re: Now we're cooking on gas!

            Is that approved? I thought we needed to find live steam vents to comply with the AWG regs these days?

    2. NomNomNom

      Re: I'm unclear

      oh I thought that time had already come. I am now questioning my recent activities.

  11. g e

    "nobody thus far has taken account of that"

    Business as usual, then.

    Plus you'd think a 'not since 3M years ago' statement would be a clue that life has evidently thrived since, regardless of the apocalyptic doomsaying...

    Give em a gun and they couldn't shoot themselves in the foot without a statistician telling them how to pick one.

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: "nobody thus far has taken account of that"

      yes all those ape cities survived just fine didn't they

    2. Gav

      Re: "nobody thus far has taken account of that"

      Amazingly, no-one is suggesting that "life" is threatened in any way by climate change.

      Your life, and human life in general, however, may not find things quite so comfortable. Most think that is worth worrying about, despite it not being an apocalypse. But rest assured, "life" will be fine.

      Nice straw man you have there though. Will it keep you warm and dry?

  12. Alex Walsh

    I for one am safe regardless

    We're over 100m above sea level in St Albans. All I need now is a boat, and some form of defence from the misplaced hoards...

    1. Justin

      Re: I for one am safe regardless

      Isn't that what they said in Tewkesbury a few years ago?

  13. Mika Peltokorpi


    If the original assumption would be true, most coastal cities would be now under water.

  14. Paul_Murphy

    Plate tectonics a recent 'discovery'

    It wasn't until the 1960's that plate tectonics was accepted ( so any work done before that would be part of the 'common knowledge' that hasn't been re-visited.

    I wonder what other 'facts' are awaiting re-interpretation?


  15. TheBodger

    Old News?

    This sounds a lot like "post glacial rebound". Basically during an ice age, the sheer weight of the ice / glaciers which form on the land push down on the tectonic plates beneath them. Since the Earth's crust is acutally floating on the molten core, it gets pushed down - a bit like what happens when you put a weight into a boat, causing sea levels to rise relative to the land because the land is pushed downwards. When the ice melts and the weight is removed, the crust starts to rise back up. This process takes tens of thousands, if not millions of years. Parts of Great Britain are still rising back up due to this effect at a rate of several centimeters per century, rebounding from the last ice age. There are 'raised beaches' several meters above modern-day sea levels in the UK, and in Scandanavia, which can be attributed to this effect. It seems suprising to me that modern - day climate scientists were not aware of this effect, since I was told about it in the late 80s by a member of the Environmental Science department of Bradforfd University.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Old News?

      'Since the Earth's crust is acutally floating on the molten core, it gets pushed down.'

      The Earth's Crust is floating on the solid Mantle which undergoes ductile deformation and flows away from the loaded crust.

    2. Another Eldo

      Re: Old News?

      Post glacial rebound / isostatic rebound etc has been known about since the late 1800s. Based on the abstract and the CIFAR announcement, we're looking at a previously untested mantle model coupled with a simulation of the glacial isostasy (again no idea of the provenance on this) and an 'understanding of the geology' to see what they predict would happen. Honestly I'm surprised that this is novel, given mantle modelling must have moved on at least a little bit since the late 90s when I was at uni and I know the climate change and mantle specialists at my place were certainly interested in this line of questioning.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Old News?

      And when the ice melts the sea level drops around where the ice sheet was, before the rebound starts.

      This is cos the ice sheet has its own gravity. This has only been recently introduced into the models too but it seriously sorts out a lot of problems.

      As for sea level rise due to crust rebound - my dad showed me raised beaches in Canada and Scotland in the 60's that were due to crust rebound (and now possibly big lumps of gin cooler) so its definitely not new. The application to 3 million year old data may be but now we have to add the ice mass in and we can get some more accurate results: If Greenland ice sheets go the sea level there would 'drop' 100meters.

    4. Tim Parker

      Re: Old News?

      "It seems suprising to me that modern - day climate scientists were not aware of this effect"

      They are aware of it in general - perhaps it has not been applied, or incorrectly applied, in some particular cases this paper is addressing (i've not had a chance to read through it yet to comment on that). To the best of my recollection this has even because discussed in El Reg on a number of occasions in relation to Greenland and Antarctic post-glacial rebound.

  16. DragonLord

    cross pollination

    It seems to me that the problem here is really one of too many disciplines interacting. The Geologists would have taken 1 look at the high tide mark and wondered where the rock used to be. The oceanographers were wondering how the sea got up so high on a regular basis. And the rest of the climate crew just took the level as gospel because they didn't know better.

    It's the whole thing about not knowing enough to start asking the right questions let alone understanding the answers.

  17. croc

    And we're worried about SEA LEVELS?

    In my lifetime the total population has gone from a mere 2.5 billion people to almost 7 billion people...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So I can expect my inland but 50mtr height house to go up in value when it becomes a costal retreat? Poo!

  19. gmciver

    Would a 35 metre searise be the main problem with global warming?

    Well that explains why we haven't got a 35 metre sealevel rise on 400ppm of CO2 now. Though what sort of CO2 level would we need for that and what will it rise to in the future?

    No we don't face disaster if we don't stop burning fossil fuels at the current rate - maybe just a billion dead in a hundred years due to reduced agricultural capacity - or more likely in wars over access to that capacity. No real problem then.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Would a 35 metre searise be the main problem with global warming?

      "No we don't face disaster if we don't stop burning fossil fuels at the current rate - maybe just a billion dead in a hundred years due to reduced agricultural capacity - or more likely in wars over access to that capacity. No real problem then."

      Compared to population expansion, CO2 levels are likely to be an insignificant problem. A billion dead in a 100 years will probably be quite a small number if total population keeps climbing as it has done. At a planetary level, we need to control population, otherwise over population will get us long before AGW. But the never ending rise in human numbers doesn't really get much airtime compared to AGW.

  20. kyndair

    ice ages

    What a lot of people forget is that we are currently in an interglacial period of the current ice age (an ice age being when there is permanent ice at one or both poles). Ice ages have only existed for 15% of earth's history the rest of the time its been greenhouse earth. To say climate change doesn't happen is plain nuts. To say we can stop it is just as crazy. That fact that a lot of people who do the most shouting fall into one camp or the other is unfortunately human as most people seem to think the world was created as it is just for them (and they then create their gods to justify this, but that's another argument).

  21. Robin 12

    It is all in the tilt.

    I would love some global warming. Had to run the heat many days last summer to keep warm. Hopefully better this year, at least we are closer to average so far.

    This has been an interesting issue for me as well. Looking at how some areas are increasing in altitude and others are sinking into the sea due to continental tilt has intreaged me. Thank you GPS stations for more accurate rate measurements. Now the data is available on-line for all to see. Looking further, as people have said, continental tild due to glacier rebound is casusing many low lying areas to sink back into the sea. Soon to be under water like they were before.

    Then I looked into Chesapeake Bay subsistence (I will let you google it) and found that some political minded people were blaming global warming when it was the land sinking due to removing ground water. Even the rates of sinking are different in different areas. Yet people are not in arms over this.

    Of course the sinking of the coastal areas will be great for the GDP. It will cost so much money to move all those people. Just as a disaster is great for the GDP due to all the rebuilding. It should make the bankers happy.

    Now to tilt a brew to my lips.

    1. asdf

      Re: It is all in the tilt.

      >I would love some global warming. Had to run the heat many days last summer to keep warm.

      Winners and losers. People in the Maldives aren't so keen on it considering their country will be underwater in a century.

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: It is all in the tilt.

        "Winners and losers. People in the Maldives aren't so keen on it considering their country will be underwater in a century."

        That's a bold prediction!! Based on.......?? Absolutely nothing. You could just as easily say that Britain could be underwater in the same timeframe. It could happen. Anyway. If you look at history, you'll notice that islands have regularly gone underwater and new ones been formed as well, all without human intervention. It's called change. It happens. If anyone thinks their particular area of the world is never going to change, they're living on another world. Ancient people knew this. They lived near the sea (say in India for instance) and when the sea level rose, simply moved inland. That's why there are towns and cities left under the sea, several miles out. It happens. Get used to it and simply moved with it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot only 79 comments?

    on a headline El Reg Global Warming (tm) post?

    The scare must be dying ;-)

    In other news, the Nenana ice still hasn't broken - just coming up to an all time record in nearly 100 years. That's what I call Warming!

  23. asdf

    El Reg

    I am so glad that editors like LP and AO take time off from their freetard whining and climate science denial blog to occasionally publish other articles about IT matters.

  24. Chris Coles

    Was Shoreline Erosion Taken Into Account?

    Rather than argue for or against, why not add some new thinking? If this paper is correct, then we also have to take into account the action of the sea at sea level. If, say, sea level had been stable for the last 3 million years; while the Eastern Seaboard had risen 35 metres; then every tidal estuary would be situated within a 35 metre escarpment on each side of the bay. However, anyone that has, for example, spent some time in Washington DC will be able to tell you that the land surrounding the tidal levels of the sea does not have 35 metre escarpments on each side.

    Yes, sea levels have both risen and fallen during the last 3 million years. What AGW proponents argue is that sea levels have never been higher, (during the period CO2 was between 180 and 300 ppm), than today; and as such, with a steady rise in the surface levels of the ES, we ought to be able to observe the interaction between the rising land and the action of the sea; at sea level; constantly eroding the rising land.

    A shoreline, 35 metres above present sea level, but with no erosion caused by the sea between the present sea level and the old shoreline, to my mind, seems to point to either a sudden rise in land levels or a sudden drop in sea levels; where erosion cannot become a factor.

    Was that scenario taken into account in the research?

  25. veti Silver badge

    So what?

    As a wise man once wrote: "You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right".

    Did the ice sheets not melt back then? Great! Fantastic news!

    Does this absolve us of the responsibility to stop emitting so much carbon? Hell no. Partly because, in case you hadn't noticed, the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere is still going up: 400 ppm was a milestone, not a goal. At present rates of growth, pretty soon we'll be asking how the icecaps will fare at 500 ppm, and by the end of this century it'll be (at least) 600.

    This isn't a game of propaganda, where you score points for citing studies that support your point of view. This is the future of the human race, and the world my grandchildren are going to live in. Can we please stop the politically-motivated point-scoring and start concentrating on fixing the effing emissions?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what?


      I would be with you if you were right but you seem to have the situation arse up. Let me explain-

      You need to demonstrate a problem before it can be solved. To demonstrate the problem you must identify it well enough to be sure it exists outside of the norm. You claim the problem is increased co2 but surely the problem you should be identifying is MMCC which you surely then you are claiming is caused primarily by co2.

      So abnormal warming must be identified. This first hurdle has yet to be achieved because we know little about our climates past and current events are not any different to what we have identified before. We have historical samples showing much higher temperatures and we have the same for increased co2. Oddly they seem to be at different times too!

      Once hurdle 1 is overcome then the whole thing is proven wrong or the causes need identifying. This requires a strong knowledge of what adds to the problem and what takes away. These balances could resolve the problem themselves (eg a natural change reducing/removing the problem) which requires accurate modelling. I think we can all agree that current modelling is in the 'joke' phase. And centred around co2 which is so poorly modelled right now that we dont have a clue about contribution and removal. We dont even know if the co2 is causing any problems!

      So your question "Can we please stop the politically-motivated point-scoring and start concentrating on fixing the effing emissions?" needs to be split. You are correct with "Can we please stop the politically-motivated point-scoring" but you are wrong with "and start concentrating on fixing the effing emissions".

      You are also incorrect about "This isn't a game of propaganda". You already perpetuate the propaganda when you demand we 'fix' something you claim is broken. Do you claim that because the sun came up I should praise the deities? I got to work in 1 piece as I have before, do I need to thank some god for it? Or do we wait for reason and truth to eventually show from this point scoring propaganda match?

  26. Dan Paul

    No one will accept that the 3rd world is now FAR more responsible for CO2 than 1st world

    For the last 100 years, advances in technology have made combustion efficiency increase dramatically in the 1st world thus decreasing emissions significantly. There is no open pit burning or land clearing, coal is 50 times cleaner than before, gasoline and petroleum refining 50% more efficient and engine efficiency and emissions are FAR better than even 10 years ago.

    There are no more killer smogs in the "1st World".

    Unfortunately, the "3rd World" refuses it's responsibility to use up to date emission and combustion controls; thus tripling the amount of emissions.

    They are the low hanging fruit in the emission battle and no one will recognize that they must have the same standards and compliance as the 1st World or no amount of feel good regulation will work.

    I will not comply or agree with ANY regulation until they are forced to comply with Western Emission stnadrads for ALL pollutants

This topic is closed for new posts.