Will California Sink Beneath the Waves? Not Any Time Soon

Written by William D. Balgord on July 29, 2021

Reuters may think one of its principal goals in life is to gin up fears among the less informed citizenry. Its pet story, about the dread subject of climate change, often leans strongly toward the human-caused variety, which remains essentially unproven to date. That’s the case with “California Weighs First Step in ‘Managed Retreat’ From Rising Pacific,” a story that ran recently in Newsmax.

Number one flaw: The rate of sea-level rise projected in the cited article is several times the well-established rate of eustatic sea-level rise of 6 to 7 inches per century, based on historical records over the past hundred years and longer.

The rate of rise predicted in the story, 3 feet (or more) during the remainder of the 21st century, amounts to 36 inches over the next 80 years—more than six times the established value, historically speaking.

Such an outcome would require significantly more melting from the glacial ice currently bound on Greenland or Antarctica or both.

To date, there are no indications that the rate of melting has increased enough to provide the enormous amounts of added water to raise ocean levels three feet, let alone more, by 2100.

Much of coastal California is a region with an emergent—that is, rising—coastline. The adjoining Coastal Range is rising at an estimated rate of nearly an inch per decade. This rate of uplift would compensate for most of the alleged ocean rise by century’s end, averting any significant danger of flooding inland along the coast.

The models on which the proposed temperature increase is based have not been validated and remain speculative. These same models have instead proven time and again to be grossly inaccurate since their public introduction in the late 1980s. They overestimate measured atmospheric temperature increases by several degrees.

Yet proponents will persist in projecting the increase in global temperature that would be required to effect requisite melting of the icecaps, without any hard evidence to show for it.

Number two flaw: “… following the collapse of an apartment block near Miami Beach, with some experts suggesting climate factors may have played a role. …”

Who are the so-called “experts”? The Reuters writer should name her sources, as every legitimate journalist should.

But the underlying problem in Miami Beach is that many high-rise apartment buildings have been constructed on a sandy barrier island never intended to support them. Translation: building a home on the sand has been a no-no recognized for centuries and is included among the parables in the New Testament.

The combined weight in megatons of the constructions along the shoreline of South Florida and the other prime real-estate up the Atlantic Coast is more than enough to cause localized settlement of building foundations. Differential subsidence puts a structure under internal stress. It was likely a primary cause of the collapse in Seaside, FL, where the anticipated loss of life has now risen to at least 105.

Number three flaw: The example used in the Reuters story, the City of Richmond, is atypical among many seaside communities in California. Representing a very small percentage of California’s immense statewide population of nearly 40 million, Richmond’s 110,000 residents are the low-lying exceptions directly exposed to the vagaries of a nearby ocean.

The minority of residents that happen to live on land within a few feet of high tide are threatened not only by putative sea-level rise in decades ahead, but have been, and remain, at risk from a devastating tsunami if a major earthquake should occur in the sea floor off the Pacific coast.

The comparatively low elevations extending inland along certain reaches of Southern California coastline share vulnerability to a coupled earthquake and tsunami similar to what devastated Lisbon, Portugal in 1755. The tsunami was responsible for most of the 70,000 deaths along exposed shorelines of Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. More drowned in the tsunami than died by the earthquake and fire in Lisbon.

The reader has only to ask why so many wealthy celebrities continue to purchase shore properties if they actually believe their purchase might be swept away by a rising sea. The truth is, they don’t believe it. Not for a minute.

The stories of rising sea levels are designed to instill fear of the unknown in the minds of the reader, in the hope of influencing enough public opinion to sway votes in an upcoming election.

If the politically motivated are successful in the deception, they believe their champions will remain in office armed with the power to control the lives of most Americans who lack the power.

William D. Balgord, Ph.D., heads Environmental & Resources Technology, Inc. in Middleton, WI. He is a contributing writer to the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.