Climate Change IQ Question 4: Will Manhattan and Florida soon be under water if humans do not curtail use of “fossil fuels”?

Answer: No. For the past 150 years, sea level has been rising slowly at a rate unaffected by carbon dioxide level or the amount of fuel burned.

Some of the most memorable moments in Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth show the effects of the sea level rising by 20 ft. This number was based on the assumption that half the ice on Greenland and Antarctica would melt. The ice in Greenland, in fact, made huge gains in the last year, and the gains in Antarctic ice exceed the losses.

There is no fixed line on the shore where the sea is supposed to stop in the absence of human meddling. We know this because of 1,800 years of tide gauge recordings. Less than 1,000 years ago (in 1066 A.D.), William the Conqueror’s castle was on the coast of England. Pevensey Castle is now 1.5 km inland. Ovidius (43 B.C.-18 A.D.) wrote: “I have myself seen what once was most solid ground disappear into the sea and I have heard of land risen out of the sea.” [1]

Many factors, including subsidence or uplift of the land, influence sea level. Temperature is one factor, as seawater expands at a higher temperature, causing a gentle rise of about 8 inches per degree Celsius.

Thus, sea level does correlate with global temperature as shown in the top two parts of the top graph below, using temperatures from the 1990 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It does not correlate with the lower panel from the IPCC 2001 report, in which Michael E. Mann has manipulated the data to make the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age disappear. (The Mann “hockey stick” itself quietly disappeared from later IPCC reports, though still invoked by opponents of hydrocarbon fuels.)

As the bottom graph shows, the slope of the 150-year trend is unaltered during the 60-year period of a six-fold increase in the use of coal, oil, and natural gas. Thus, the Industrial Revolution cannot have caused this sea-level rise. [2] The trend shown here is about 7 inches per century (0.07 inches or 1.8 mm/yr), but based on a better method is about 1 mm/yr.

Take-home Lessons:

  • Al Gore’s alarmist predictions of imminent catastrophic flooding have been refuted by history, scientific measurement, and 10 years of experience since the 2006 release of his apocalyptic film.
  • Reliance on those who continue to refer to such hyperbole as fact suggests a political agenda, not serious concern about truth or public safety.


  1. Soon W. Five or more failed experiments in measuring global sea level change. Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. 31st annual meeting; Jul 13, 2013. Available at:
  2. Robinson AB, et al. Environmental effects of Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. J Am Phys Surg 2007;12:79-90. Available at:

Printable PDF of Question #4:

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