Scientists claim water levels will rise much faster than expected

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Copenhagen (Denmark) – Scientists attending the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen today said that sea levels may rise this century at about twice the pace previously predicted.  The new forecast claims that by 2100, the climate change could cause sea levels to rise by as much as 39 inches.

We can’t really say that past predictions how the climate change may affect water levels, supply and quality across the globe were especially encouraging, but a new report now paints and even darker picture. And while the scientific findings presented earlier today in Copenhagen have raised concerns, the global warming story continues to have two sides. At a conference organized by the Heartland Institute U.S. politicians wonder whether global warming ever has been or will be a crisis.

In Denmark, scientists said that new research indicates that sea levels will rise by at least 20 inches and as much as 39 inches by 2100. This data is much more dramatic than what a 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report quoted by the scientists suggested. According to that report the sea levels may rise by 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century. However, according to a June 2008 report released by the IPCC today, there are many unknown variables and it may be impossible to exactly predict the rise of the sea level in the long term.

While the IPCC is confident that the rate of the sea level rise “has increased between the mid-19th and the mid-20th centuries,” it is “not known whether the higher rate in 1993–2003 is due to decadal variability or to an increase in the longer-term trend.” In general, the IPCC found that “the observing system was less reliable prior to 1993” and “the observational uncertainties, combined with a lack of suitable studies, mean that it is difficult to quantify the anthropogenic contribution.” However, the IPCC also concluded that “increases in sea level are consistent with warming, and modeling studies suggest that overall it is very likely that the response to anthropogenic forcing contributed to sea-level rise during the latter half of the 20th century.” IPCC’s latest predictions suggest that sea levels are currently rising at a pace of about 0.015 inches per year, up from about an average rate of about 0.009 inches per year between 1961 and 2003 and 0.008 inches per year in the mid 20th century.

The latest report is clearly predicting a much worse development, caused by the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets and glaciers. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen said that “if the emissions of greenhouse gases is not reduced quickly and substantially even the best-case scenario will hit low-lying coastal areas housing one-tenth of humans on the planet hard.” 2000 scientists from 80 countries are attending the event organized by the University.   

The Heartland Institute organized a coinciding event in New York that is claiming the opposite and described the June 2008 report as “alarmist”. The report especially questions the availability of water on our planet if water management practices do not come up with better solutions to deal with the effects of climate change. The 214-page report claims that “in many locations, water management cannot satisfactorily cope even with current climate variability, so that large flood and drought damages occur” as climate change affects “water supply reliability, flood risk, health, agriculture, energy and aquatic ecosystems.”

Former U.S. vice president and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore appeared to be one of the main targets during the conference as Congressman Tom McClintock, R-CA, said that "Instead of jetting around the world in a fleet of Gulfstream Fives to tell people they need to feel guilty about driving to work, I have to take the subway." Czech Republic president and EU president Vaclav Klaus, head speaker of the event, criticized the IPCC report and other European countries about their emphasis on global warming. According to The Guardian, Klaus said that "they probably do not want to reveal their true plans and ambitions to stop economic development and return mankind several centuries back. It is evident that the climate change debate has not made any detectable progress. It reminds me of the frustration people like me felt in the communist era."