Joanne Nova blindly promotes Willies Soon’s criticism of Sea Level measurements. It’s strangely titled “Five or more failed experiments in measuring Global Sea Level: Willie Soon” – does Willie get confused by numbers greater than five?
Willie “I don’t understand” Soon introduces himself to the audience with “Many of you are as qualified as I am to speak on this issue of sea level”. For the record, Soon has ZERO publications on the topic of Sea Level Rise, so it’s quite possible that some of his audience are better qualified. His claims that all the science is wrong stems from his own lack of understanding; Anything Willie cannot understand must therefore be, in his opinion, “bad science” rather than an inability to understand on his behalf. Personally I don’t fully understand Einstein’s theory of relativity, but I won’t call that science “sick”, a term Willie uses to describe things he can’t explain.
Willie’s opinion on the topic of sea level rise does not coming from having performed science, does not originate from understanding the technology behind the measurements, doesn’t come from performing any kind of statistical analysis but instead comes from, and I quote, “Over Christmas I happen to ah, all the dots and everything fall into places”.
Willie makes many off-hand remarks about scientists chasing funding, ironic given his own history of funding from the fossil fuel industry. (more from Desmog), But let’s examine his claims in further detail …
Medieval Sea Levels – Graph Trickery
@6:30 Willie makes reference to the graph cited as Grinsted 2009 and wonders why we are so worried when sea levels were greater before. Two things to note, Firstly the graph Willie uses has been altered to remove the latter years. The Grinsted graph can be found here and it clearly demonstrates why the sea level rise is of concern. Secondly Grinsted’s paper specifically mentioned why the sea level rise is different from Medieval times.
Having established models linking temperature to sea level rise, we project 21st century sea level using IPCC projections of temperature as forcing (Fig. 7, Table 2). We find that IPCC projections of sea level rise 2090-2099 are underestimated by roughly a factor 3 (Table 2). The likely rates of 21st century sea level rise far exceed anything seen in the last 2000 years.
Willie makes no mention (perhaps unaware?) that the sea levels in the past responded to small amounts of warming. We are set to warm the planet well beyond the Medieval Warm Period.
@7:20 Willie says that evidence for great change in sea level comes from Pevensey Castle, specifically that one thousand years ago it was on the coast. What evidence is there for this? He cites one person’s tale; Great van der Rol who “loves writing science fiction with a large dollop of good old, healthy romance”.
Currently the ground around the Pevensey Castle, according to Google Earth, is about 7 meters above sea level. Willie thinks the sea receded 7 meters in the last 1,000 years based on the word of someone he met that likes to write science fiction.
I’m a bit more sceptical and prefer hard evidence, however this does provide an excellent insight into the lack of critical thinking Willie Soon exhibits. He is willing to accept anecdotal evidence from one person instead of looking at the paleoclimate evidence or even perform basic validation. Did he ever wonder why there is no physical evidence of a 7 meter drop in sea level? Or stop to ponder why/how did they build a moat around a castle that already bordered the sea?
Not so bright Willie!
Hansen & Sato 2012
@10:15 Willie attempts to Hansen & Sato’s work which looks at past warm periods and examines the relationship between the temperature and the sea level.
What reasoning does Willie provide that falsifies their work? Nothing; oh unless insults count.
Those people are so out of their mind, in my view, my humble view. By the way I speak freely as myself again. … These people are playing with this kind of crazy curve and they call this science. Do you think that can I say this is sick science. I mean really sick in my view.
Willie just calls it “sick science” without actually addressing, or giving any reason as to why it might be “sick”. The curve was created, based upon the melting that we’ve seen in Greenland and Antarctica, as shown in this image.
@16:37 Willie seems so much in a hurry to say that we’ve seen rapid change before, that he forgets to realise that it took only small amounts of change in the Milankovitch cycles along with the natural feedbacks in order to cause such a rapid change. This rapid sea level change of the past, when there were no cities, is why we are so concerned about the amount of warming we are causing today.
There have been a number of satellites that have observed the ocean heights over the years.
With regards to how scientists use millions of sample of decades of years, resolve to determine the rate of sea level change to within millimetres, @19:20 Willie says
I have a little problem understanding that one … I just don’t believe any of this is achievable.
Once again Willie can’t understand something so he therefore assumes it cannot possibly be true. Yet teams of other scientists seem quite capable of independently performing this task and arrive at almost exactly the same results.
@23:05 Willie says
If this results is valid I really think I should quit science.
Frankly, we’re waiting for you to start science. So far we are twenty three minutes into the video and not ONE piece of scientific evidence has been provided. Just a little anecdotal evidence and some head shaking saying “I don’t understand”.
@23:48 Willie says
I don’t know where it come from. I just don’t trust this sort of work
Yes, we get it Willie. You don’t know how they do it.
ENVISAT vs Jason
@27:20 Willie shows a graph plotting two different satellite raw data and complains that they adjusted the data and he doesn’t know why. Willie complains
Please somebody gotta explain me why they can pull this up.
Firstly, of course they adjusted the data, it MUST be adjusted to correct for real world physical reasons. Had Willie followed his own link he would have arrived at the document that explains the adjustments that were made.
@29:10 Willie quotes a paper by Wunsch, “It remains possible that the database is insufficient to compute mean sea level trends with the accuracy necessary to discuss the impact of global warming”. But Willie fails to mention that the paper is limited to data between 1993 and 2004. Notice too that Wunsch is specifically mentioning the IMPACT of global warming; that shouldn’t be confused with the ability to measure to the mm accuracy.
Accurate enough to detect El Nino
Willie now contradicts himself. Moments ago he was saying that the satellite could not possibly be accurate, now @30:50 he says
the high peak there is something related to the famous El Nino of 1997-8.
Satellites that Willie says are not accurate, detected the few millimetre difference made by the warmer water of the El Nino (which expands) causing a slight temporary rise in sea levels.
Kempton & Dhanju
@34:15 Willie talks about the work of Kempton and Dhanju 2007 in which they add up the sea level rise that would occur if parts of Antarctic and Greenland were to melt. Willie cites the 15 meter figure (Greenland 6.55 and West Antarctic 8.06). These figures are not controversial; other studies are cited for the numbers and there are various papers giving similar figures.
Kempton’s 15 meters projection is not for 2100, another figure Kempton mentions is 64.8 meters if East Antarctica were to melt. I think Willie would have a fit over that one.
But Willie seems happy to lead his audience into thinking that Kempton’s 15 figure was a 2100 year projection – it is not.
“Unbelievable” say Willie, once again not actually providing anything to actually counter the science.
@34:40 Will says
So you got 15 meter you go multiply by 3.3, I don’t know how many foot is that but is a lot.
In my head Willie, 15 * 3 is 45, 15 * 0.3 is 4.5, 45 + 4.5 = 49.5.
Once again Willie is clear about his level of understanding, @36:30 he says
I really don’t understand this kind of work … all I know is that the result doesn’t seem to be too valid.
Yep. Willie doesn’t understand, therefore the result can’t possibly be right in his mind. He quotes a section of research from Peltier suggesting that the oceans are not gaining mass; is that right?
As listed on the CU Sea Level Research Group’s website, Peltier says
Since GRACE also provides a measurement of the rate at which mass is being added to the oceans, we are now in a position to ask whether this rate of mass addition to the oceans matches the rate at which mass is being removed from the continents. As demonstrated herein, the mass component of the budget of global sea level is closed within the observational errors.
Not the words of someone that supposedly disputes sea level rise.
…the upward correction of 0.3 mm/yr to the rate of sea level rise being measured by the altimetric satellites Topex/Poseidon and Jason-1 is a correction that was first pointed out as necessary by myself.
@41:18 Willie says of himself
It’s really a lot of ignorant on my part
Willie doesn’t understand. I wonder if he ever will.
Willie now turns his attention to tide gauges and mentions his old friend Nils-Axel Mörner who’s effort we have covered earlier – I won’t bother going over old territory.
Most of Willie’s commentary from here on is simply information about the tide gauges, rather than an analysis of how they affect our current understanding of sea level rise. Willie attempts to cast doubt by citing a paper by Houston to suggest that subsidence is a significant issue being over looked. I expect Willie is misinterpreting the science given that Houston’s latest paper says
Sea-level rise projections from 1990 to 2100 are 0.18, 0.48, and 0.82 m at 5, 50, and 95% confidence levels, respectively.
@47:15 Willie pulls up some data from Ballu et all 2011 with GPS data showing that subsidence and rapid change from large earthquakes cause more sea level rise in Vanuatu than anything else. Indeed it did, but what else did they find? From the abstract …
From 1997 to 2009, the absolute sea level rose by 150 +∕− 20 mm. But GPS data reveal that the islands subsided by 117 +∕− 30 mm over the same time period, almost doubling the apparent gradual sea level rise.
So 33mm of actual sea level rise occurred between 1997 to 2009, that’s 2.75mm/yr, very close to the global average. Willie conveniently over-looks this fact.
Willie’s voice reaches shrieking level as he suggests that the scientific world is ignoring the sedimentation. Perhaps he could explain why the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency for the Government of Australia specifically mentions the Ballu paper?
Willie describes science that he disagrees with or cannot understand as “sick science” and “rotten”. Willies failure to agree with something seems to depend upon his inability to understand it.
@10:08 Willie says
I don’t know, it’s really sick. This science is not healthy. They are really doing something bad because I don’t understand what they [are] doing.
This statement sums up Willie’s attempt to discredit the science. With an over-inflated perception of his own ability, when faced with something he personally does not understand, rather than admit that he lacks the capacity, he instead called the science “sick”.
Willie’s “sick” scientists include four major independent bodies that all arrive at nearly the exact same result.
Willie just don’t understand it.