Sunday, August 16, 2009

Misinformation and Public Policy

Much is being made of misinformation and organized disinformation in the health care debate in the US. The Sarah Palin “death panel” that will determine who lives and who dies, the government “take over” of health care as the new socialism and the threat to seniors from $500 billion cut to Medicare are all examples of misinformation.

Yet those of us who take a rational, measured approach to climate change are used to this. One side – in this case the climate change alarmists like Al Gore, James Hansen and the IPCC – use carefully selected “evidence”, exaggerate it, ignore actual data and then proclaim truth.

One example of this is the claim that many locations in the world will be under water due to rising sea levels, caused by melting ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. Sea levels will rise, according to the IPCC models and other projections, covering islands like Tuvalu (“the first casualty” according to most accounts) and the Maldives.

But the actual measurement of sea levels at all of the normal locations mentioned by the alarmists show no significant sea rise since 1992. In fact, the sea level is virtually constant. In the Maldives, a reconstruction of sea level data for the past 2,600 years show that, at various times, the sea level has been some 20cm higher than it is at the present time and that, since it fell in 1970, there has been no significant rise in sea levels in the Maldives.

Another location for Gore-like catastrophe is Nederlands – lowland Holland. In the past century the sea level in Nederlands has risen 20cm but there is no evidence of an accelerated rise in sea level since the mid 20th century and sea defenses continue to be constructed – something which the Dutch are very good at.

Sea levels rises are not a threat. Polar bears are thriving. The earth is cooling. When is actual evidence going to be used and policy is based, not on misinformation, but on established facts and a commitment to climate adaptation?

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