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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A new disinformer at WUWT writing wrongs about rising seas: Robert W. Endlich

Sou | 3:13 AM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has a bee in his bonnet about sea levels.  He keeps denying that seas rise as the planet warms and ice melts.  His latest is a copy and paste from other denier blogs of an article by a science denier called Robert W. Endlich. (Archived here.)  This chap is described on WUWT as follows:
Robert W. Endlich served as a weather officer in the US Air Force for 21 years and a US Army meteorologist for 17 years. He was elected to Chi Epsilon Pi, the national Meteorology Honor Society, while a basic meteorology student at Texas A&M University. He has degrees in geology and meteorology from Rutgers University and the Pennsylvania State University, respectively, and has studied and visited the ancient sites of Rome, Ostia Antica and Pisa.

Writing Wrongs!

Given his reported background I'd say Robert W. Endlich is not a denier, he's a disinformer.  He must know that what he writes has a lot of wrongs!

For example, in this article he claims that in regard to storms like Sandy and Haiyan and, presumably Katrina, "the lost lives and property have little to do with the storms’ sheer power".  No?  He blames it on those silly people who chose to remain on planet Earth instead of getting out of the way.

As with many deniers and disinformers, his motives are not hidden.  Robert writes (my bold italics):
The alarmist cries are not meant to be honest or factual. They are intended to generate hysterical headlines, public anxiety about climate change, and demands for changes in energy policies and use.

What Robert Robert W. Endlich is trying to claim is that sea levels dropped in the Little Ice Age and haven't risen back to the levels they were before that.  I don't know if that's the case or not, but I doubt it.  Robert gives some examples of towns that are further inland than they used to be.  He waves away other reasons for their apparent shift inland writing, for example: "Some historians erroneously claim “river silting” caused the change, but the real “culprit” was sea level change." His examples are:
  • The ancient city of Ephesus - Wikipedia refers to the silting up of the natural harbours
  • Ruins of the old Roman port Ostia Antica - Wikipedia states that "At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport, but due to silting the site now lies 3 kilometres (2 miles) from the sea."
  • Pevensey Castle in England's south - Wikipedia talks about the longshore drift that cut the bay off from the sea

So firstly Robert W. Endlich's examples aren't related to general sea level rises and falls.  And I wonder why he ignores all the towns that haven't shifted inland and those that have fallen into the sea for one reason or another (usually subsidence or earthquakes).

Secondly, quite a few of the readers of WUWT aren't buying his spiel.  Here are some comments:

Keith Willshaw writes about Pevensey and says:
December 2, 2013 at 4:44 am
Interesting article to which I have one minor caveat.
The case of Pevensey Castle is a little more complex than just declining sea levels. The entire South East coast of England was radically changed by the Great Storm of Feb 1287. This was no mere blow like so called Superstorm Sandy but a mass killer. Some ancient towns like Old Winchelsea were wiped off the map, The spot where it used to stand is now over a mile offshore.
In other cases such as Pevensey and New Romney great banks of gravel were dropped leaving them a mile away from the new sea front. The River Rother changed course and now emerges over 15 miles from its old outlet. Worse was to come in December 1287 when another huge storm roared down the North Sea , breaking the dikes in Holland and killing more than 50,000 people.
The inhabitants of Pevensey (and New Romney) saw the disaster as an opportunity and filled in any breaches in the new gravel banks thereby reclaimimg the land for agriculture. To this day much of the land between New Romney is below sea level and protected by dykes and has warning sirens that are sounded if the sea wall is breached.

tty writes about land changes around the Mediterranean and says:
December 2, 2013 at 6:22 am
Several errors here. “Wisconsin” as a name for the last Ice Age is only valid in North America, it has other names in other places. And Wisconsin is a name for the whole 100 000 year cycle not just the “deepest part”. That is normally known as the Last Glacial Maximum, LGM for short.
Also using sites around the Mediterranean as examples to show sea-level change is very risky. It is more often land-level change. Most of the Mediterranean Basin is tectonically active, and it is just as easy to find sites that “prove” that the sea level was lower during the Roman Period, Cumae near Neapel for example, or Serapis where there are marine mollusks on the temple pillars several meters above sea-level, showing that the relative sealevel has gone up and down since the roman period.
That said there is no doubt that the sealevel was slightly higher during the climatic optimum, particularly in the Pacific Basin.

tty is a regular denier so can get away with his criticism. However Warren seems to be a newcomer so he gets lots of abuse for writing:
December 2, 2013 at 5:09 am
I don’t understand why this article should carry any scientific weight whatsoever. It’s argument is that “sea levels have been rising and falling throughout history, so the proposition that mans activities is warming the planet and causing sea level rise is ridiculous”. Same goes for the oft seen argument that “earths temperature has risen and fallen throughout history, so AGW is false, QED.” I hope none of the forums readers buy this ‘argument’ that the existence of natural patterns means there cannot be an increment caused by man.

Francois isn't impressed by the article and says:
December 2, 2013 at 7:01 am
The whole piece is not very scientific : feet, miles (statute or nautical?), why not degrees F, fluid ounces (or not fluid?), pounds, grains, stones, and the like? Are we still in the eighteenth century?

Ideology can warp the brain

Just as he started by displaying his ideologically-based denial, Robert W. Endlich finishes up by referring to Mother Nature, taxation and politics.
Since the Little Ice Age ended about 160 years ago, tide gages show that sea level has risen at a steady rate – with no correlation to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
Sea level is a dynamic property in our planet’s climate cycles, which are closely linked to changes in solar energy output and other natural factors. It is unlikely to change in response to tax policies that make energy more expensive and economies less robust – no matter what politicians in Washington, Brussels or the United Nations might say.
Much to their chagrin, Mother Nature doesn’t listen to them. She has a mind of her own.

What's happening to the sea

Sea levels are rising - not from changes in solar energy but from natural factors like melting ice and water expansion as it heats up because of the unnatural emissions of carbon dioxide continue unabated.  Here's a chart of the sea level rise of the past twenty years:

Source: University of Colorado


  1. Sou, are there critical comments more often nowadays at WUWT? Or is this just your selection?

    "He has degrees in geology and meteorology"

    If geology would be a new study, they would call it oil exploration sciences. Meteorology is not climatology.

    "For example, in this article he claims that in regard to storms like Sandy and Haiyan and, presumably Katrina, "the lost lives and property have little to do with the storms’ sheer power". "

    I would say that is right. If makes an enormous difference where the storm makes landfall. That does not make these storms less dangerous, but does add a lot of noise to damage statistics and is the reason why you would expect that studying the physical properties of the storms is more likely to show a signal.

    1. Victor, there are occasional small signs that people aren't always that compliant at WUWT but that's happened on and off over the years. Still, there were fewer than 30 comments on Anthony's Josh Calendar thread last I checked, even though it's a sticky and has been up for more than a day. And Wondering Willis didn't get as many comments this time around as he's used to getting. But I wouldn't be rushing to judgement too soon. For example, it's barely a day since the "sound of ice" thread, which was full on scientific illiterati.

      As for storms, I understand what you are saying, but Robert's comment doesn't hold water as a standalone comment. We're not talking about frequency or attribution here.

      Robert W. Endlich is wrong when he says the damage is down to people not the storm strength. This is why I say so. I'll bet you anything you like that the Philippines and New Jersey have had lots of storms in the past that had nothing like the ferocity of Haiyan and Sandy. It was the sheer ferocity that caused the damage. Haiyan was reported to be the strongest storm ever recorded at landfall. If a storm is fierce it will cause damage. If it's weak then it won't cause nearly as much damage. You can try to argue that if people hadn't been there then no-one would have been hurt. But people were there. People do live on this planet. People do live in places where storms hit. It was the strength of the storm that was the problem. A weaker storm wouldn't have caused the same amount of damage.

  2. This was no mere blow like so called Superstorm Sandy

    Charming. They keep doing this - we need only look back to your posts regarding the WUWT reaction (and that really is the word!) to Typhoon Haiyan.

  3. "A weaker storm wouldn't have caused the same amount of damage."
    A stronger storm making landfall in a different location wouldn't have caused as much damage either. Damage is generally less related to storm strength than it is to where it occurs. Katrina was far from being the strongest storm on record, but it did a lot of damage due to where it made landfall.

    1. Katrina was also large, as well as having high (if not record) windspeed. Implying that it's impact was only a factor of population density is mendacious and misleading, and detracts from the implications of the effect that climate change can have on the manifestation of extreme weather events.

      And be courageous enough to at least use a pseudonym - total anonymity these days is a guarantee of logically fallacious argument.

    2. I didn't read Anon as implying population density was the only factor. Hurricane strength is indeed not everything: you get 1800 dead with Katrina, the third-strongest hurricane to make landfall in US history. Camilla was a bit stronger, hit not far from the same place, and killed fewer than 300. And Stan, a mere category 1 hurricane also in 2005, killed about as many as Katrina.

    3. If I grabbed the wrong end of the stick I do apologise.

  4. Sou writes in the OP:

    What Robert Robert W. Endlich is trying to claim is that sea levels dropped in the Little Ice Age and haven't risen back to the levels they were before that. I don't know if that's the case or not, but I doubt it.

    It would seem to be... misleading. Either of the two pretty pictures in this RC post is worth considerably more than a thousand words from some fake sceptic:


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