Coffee House

Good news! Sea levels aren’t rising dangerously

1 December 2011

4:37 PM

1 December 2011

4:37 PM

This week’s Spectator cover star Nils-Axel Mörner brings some good news to a world
otherwise mired in misery: sea levels are not rising dangerously – and haven’t been for at least 300 years. To many readers this may come as a surprise. After all, are not rising sea levels
– caused, we are given to understand, by melting glaciers and shrinking polar ice – one of the main planks of the IPCC’s argument that we need to act now to ‘combat climate change’?

But where the IPCC’s sea level figures are based on computer ‘projections’, questionable measurements and arbitrary adjustments, Mörner’s are based on extensive field observations. His most
recent trip to Goa in India last month – just like his previous expeditions to Bangladesh and the Maldives – has only served to confirm his long-held view that reports of the world’s
imminent inundation have been greatly exaggerated for ends that have more to do with political activism than science.


Mörner’s views have not endeared him to environmental campaigners or the IPCC establishment. A few years ago, when I mentioned his name in a public debate with George Monbiot, I vividly
remember an audible hissing from sections of the audience as if I’d invoked the equivalent of Lord Voldemort.

The problem for Mörner’s detractors is that, eccentric and outspoken Swedish count though he no doubt is, he also happens to be the world’s pre-eminent expert on sea levels. Besides being
responsible for dozens of peer-reviewed papers on the subject, he was also chairman of INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution. This means that his findings can not easily be
dismissed as those of a raving ‘climate change denier’.

I have heard Mörner speak many times and his position is not nearly as controversial as it is sometimes made out to be by his detractors. His view is simple: ‘If sea levels really are rising
and islands like Tuvalu and the Maldives are in imminent danger of drowning, where is the physical evidence to support it?’ So far there is none. It is those who claim otherwise who are the true

You can read Nils-Axel Mörner’s full cover story in this week’s Spectator, on sale today.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Worry

    It is surprising that such a relatively easy empirical study has not been performed at sites supposedly threatened by inundation. Why would one rely solely on theoretical models when one could practically stick a pole in the water and observe the results for a few years or decades?

  • Remittance Man

    People say study the REAL climate models in REAL computers. Fine. But here’s a few facts about computer models of natural phenomena from someone who works with such things every day:

    The most accurate of these models – geological models of orebodies – can be as close as 95% to the truth, but only under certain specific circumstances.

    Circumstance one – the natural phenomenon being modelled is fixed.
    Two – the data is collected from a large number of closely and regularly spaced intervals.
    Three – the data used in one model is assayed in a limited number of labs all of which are expected to regularly pass quality control tests against test samples of known value.
    Four – high accuracy is only possible within the cluster of data collected. Once you wander outside the data field all bets are off.

    Now let’s look at climate models and their use.

    Firstly weather, climate or whatever is constantly in a state of flux, making the modelling much more difficult.
    Next, weather stations are positioned unevenly around the globe and at nothing like the same density as would be required from exploration drilling.
    Thirdly, I would suspect that the calibration and quality control regime imposed is far slacker than sen in the geological world.
    Fourthly – going back further than a few decades a lot of the data used does not come from primary sources. Instead it derives from other models developed using variables such as tree rings, gas concentrations in bubbles trapped in ice.
    Finally these far less reliable models are used to predict events that might happen in the future ie way outside the set of gathered data. This is the equivalent of saying I have a model of a gold deposit under London and this makes me certain I could start a gold mine just outside Chichester.

    Quite frankly, if I took an investment proposal based on a model of this provenance to my bosses I would not just be fired, I’d probably be sectioned. But this is just what the climate change scientists have done. And our politicians have decided to invest way more than the cost of a gold mine based on just such a model.

    Funnily enough, in my experience geologists are some of the scientists least likely to have bought into AGW and Climate Change.

  • John Holland

    Ha ha.

  • John Holland

    Simon S-

    I’ve given up trying to reply to you- whatever I right, they won’t print it.
    Maybe they’ll allow this through just to be funny.

  • Woolf Barnato

    Oh dear oh dear James, you’ve done it again. Not content with lapping up every word of the maverick Ian Plimer (whose scientific charades would have attracted your fury had he not come to the “right conclusion”, because he did you accepted him – absurdly – uncritically), you have now latched on to this laughable idiot, who believes in dowsing, amongst other junk science … It really does not help the cause. I am quite prepared to accept the holes in AGW theory, but at the same time am afraid the sceptics are even worse – substantially so in this case.

  • Chris Enkia
  • Simon Stephenson.

    John Holland : 7.05pm

    “And why am I, alone, being asked for this proof of intellectual purity? Why not you?”

    You’re not being asked for “proof” of anything. What you are being asked to accept is that the strength of priority which you assign to nature over humanity is a personal choice; one which is not shared by vast numbers of other human beings; and one which is built from moralism, not science. Most of us, however, while we both respect and wonder at nature, when push comes to shove we put humanity first. We see nothing wrong in overcoming the forces of nature in pursuit of our own wellbeing and happiness.

    What we also see over time is a succession of campaigns by pro-nature, anti-human factions, using all the artifices of dishonest persuasion, in attempts to change the personal morality of people who are not currently so acutely anti-human.

    So butt out, Mr Holland! Live your life in a hairshirt if you so choose, but let others also make the choices that you expect for yourself.

  • Peter Hirsch

    I live on the sea’s edge. 15 years ago, the highest tides in November used to fill my garden on a regular basis. But not since. I do not believe the sea level is rising: falling, perhaps?

  • John Holland

    Simon S.-

    And my ‘stance’ is what, exactly?
    What assertions about either present or future conditions of the planet have I made here?

    And why am I, alone, being asked for this proof of intellectual purity? Why not you?

    Actually, now you mention it, this seems like a very good idea;
    why don’t we start with Delingpole- afterall, he’s the one making a good living making very confident pronouncements about scientific issues, when he has no apparent training in, or knowledge of, the subject.
    While we’re waiting for him, you can set the ball rolling, since you’ve made some pretty confident pronouncements about the world’s scientific organisations yourself.

    I’ll give it a try myself, when I’ve had a bit of a think;
    looking foreward to your personal statement of proof of scientific purity, Steven!

  • Simon Stephenson.

    John Holland : 12.46pm

    You, personally, have said nothing whatsoever to challenge the assertion that your stance is primarily moralistic/political. Nor have you said anything to refute Cassandra King’s warning (02/12 4.05pm) that the whole AGW scare is just the latest example of the fusion of politics and science.

  • John Holland

    Hello Richard-
    I’m learning a lot from you, it’s interesting. I don’t know if you and Steven are representative of Spectator readers- I hope so.

    For example,I’m keen to know why you keep calling me religious. Based on what I’ve said on this site, what leads you to the conclusion that I am ‘guilty’ of religious thinking?
    All I’ve done is to question the logic of some of your, and Simon S’s, statements.
    I’ve made no claims about anything to do with my personal beliefs, either regards the climate, or a Creator.
    Are you being a little hysterical? Does it not remind you of the habit of shouting down critical thought with the smug term ‘denier’?

    And regarding your claim about scientists’s warnings of cooling, I’ve enjoyed your various ways of evading having to back the statement up with any evidence. I’m sure you’re right, merely that it fell from yout lips is sufficient proof of its truth.
    But why is it “irrelevent” to say that a very small minority made this claim ( I can find ONE paper, ‘Atmospheric CO2 and Aerosols- Effects of large increases on Global Climate (Rasool 1971)- which admittedly got a lot of press coverage at the time), while most said precisely the opposite?
    What you seemed to say is that is that it doesn’t matter whether your claim was plucked out of thin air or not, because I can’t prove all subsequent papers to be correct. Or something. Wonderful.

  • John Holland

    Simon Stevenson-

    “…do some hard graft etc.,etc…”

    There is, as you know, a huge body of work by the leading scientific bodies, including the national scientific associations of 32 countries, behind these assertions of AGW.
    Obviously, they could all well be one huge, steaming pile of dung, as you obviously think they are, and I’m sure you, of all people, have the expertise to know.
    But to say that no-one’s bothered to find evidence to back up the claims (dung, lies or true), is just not engaging with the situation.
    I apologise if you’ve spent the last few years reading this enormous number of papers, testing their veracity,and have come to the reasoned conclusion that, in your personal scientific estimation, thay are, indeed, all, without exception, dung.
    You have done us all a service.

  • Richard of Moscow

    John Holland
    December 3rd, 2011 8:31pm

    I’m trying very hard to understand your reply.”

    – That is an encouraging sign, certainly. Let’s see how you got on:

    “… despite your repetition of the old canard that sciencists used to believe that the earth was about to enter an ice age,”

    – No, very poor indeed. I did not mention any ice age.

    You and your co-religionists just became far too excited over predictions on some computer models, just as a considerable number of leading banking organisations became far too excited at these fantastic new ‘low-risk, high-return’ AAA investments on sub-prime mortgages.

    I repeat – no-one (I hope) wants you to go to prison. Just have a little holiday in reality – it’s not that bad, I promise.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    John Holland : 8.31pm

    1. Like most theists you apply a double-standard to judging the validity of evidence. Opponents are required to “prove” their assertions, yet those on your side merely have to make appeals to authority.

    This is the standard in modern politics, but not in pure science.

    2. It’s a test to provide some evidence of whether your appeals to authority have some credibility, or if they are merely self-serving circular justifications. For example, if your sole criterion for judging someone as competent and reputable is “his beliefs and my beliefs are the same” then it is a false argument if you then claim that your faith is superior to others because all competent and reputable people support it.

    3. The way to remove the automatic hostility of non-theists is to stop trying to present a possibility as a certainty, and do some hard graft to establish solid, precise and scientific reasons why the possibility is serious enough for us to pay some attention to it. We’re never, ever going to be persuaded by a moral argument masquerading as a piece of sound logic by having a piece of “scientific” mumbo-jumbo attached to it.

  • dannie_brooke

    errr, actually INQUA have been trying to distance themselves from Mörner who still falsely represents himself in his former capacity. he’s a bloody loon and con-man

  • John Holland

    Richard of etc.-

    You should read Georgian Republican Paul Broun Jn., and his calls for a Congressional Hearing to investigate the scientific establishment for being part of the New World Order Conspiracy(TM) to “destroy America”.
    Now there’s a man who puts his money where his mouth is.

  • John Holland


    “In your dreams.”

    But, really, if you were to take your statements seriously ( which, of course, you don’t), the ‘fact’ that all the major scientific organisations in the world are pushing this AGW lie MUST involve a conserted (and criminally fraudulent) attempt to promote a knowingly false scientific idea, supported by knowingly false data.
    That’s not freedom of speech, that is, as I say, criminal conspiracy. These aren’t “a few spoilt brats”,either, depite your attempt to identify a ringleader as Marcus bloody Brigstock; they are the world’s senior scientists. And they are liers.

    It’s very sanguine indeed of you to accept this global corruption as ‘freedom of speech’. Unless, of course, you don’t, really, believe it any more than I do.

  • John Holland


    I’m trying very hard to understand your reply. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.
    Just to recap; what I pointed out was that, despite your repetition of the old canard that sciencists used to believe that the earth was about to enter an ice age, a simple study of published science papers (not news stories, since what newspapers print is their own business), shows that a small minority talked of cooling, and a great majority predicted warming. Thus, your attempt to prove the inconsistency of the science since the seventies is, simply, false.
    Does it matter to you that a minority of papers in this period predicted cooling, or will you just use this nonsense anyway?
    Do you think your constant use of the word ‘religion’ as a catch-all insult take the place of either evidence or rational argument?
    Simon Stevenson-

    You are dispalying some interesting logic here.
    “…if your opponents can’t prove they’re right then it can be assumed they are wrong”.
    I take it you think this logic is wrong- and you would apply it to ‘warmists’. They shouldn’t need to ‘prove’ that they are right? Just, what, give them the benefit of the doubt? Or just give YOU the benefit of the doubt? How far do you apply this assertion that an opinion should be respected, regardless of its relationship to evidence?

    “Have you come up with anyone yet…..” etc.
    So what you are saying here (correct me if I’m wrong) is that, as someone who you assume is a proponent of AGW (though in fact all I’ve done is question the logical consistancy of many of the posts here), my putative views are false unless I can name a senior scientist who disagrees with them.
    I don’t know how to answer that, as it seems more like something from Alice in Wonderland than a serious piece of rational argument.

  • Richard of Moscow

    Maybe the link sabotaged part 1. Try again:
    “…calling every scientist you think you disagree with a liar,”
    – Which, of course, I didn’t.

    “if it is absolutely certain that all these educationally sub-normal geeks (and dear old Dave Atternborough) are lying for financial and political reasons, if it’s been proved beyond doubt that they are frauds, why arn’t you and your chums taking them to court?”

    – Did I say ALL? No, again, (I should’ve known ‘not disinterested’ would cause you problems) but I’ll answer your question nonetheless: it is because most people are not so intolerant as to want various politicians, eco-loon ‘scientists’ and tedious ‘entertainers’ (Attenborough, Brigstock et al) prosecuted and locked up just for spouting nonsense.

    There is a broad consensus in favour of freedom of speech, except among your co-religionists who want people prosecuted as ‘climate deniers’

    “They are engaged in a massive criminal conspiracy,”

    – In your dreams. No, just another bunch of pampered, immature little brats with a new religion, desperately seeking attention.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Pete H : 9.46am

    “Pot Head, it is not up to the sceptics to prove anything, science works the opposite way round (or used to!).”

    I think you’ll find that science still does work in a way the the burden of proof is on the asserter rather than the receiver. Not so, however, with politics, or with “science” that is corrupted to conform to a political objective. Here, the one and only aim is to win, and if carrying the burden of proof is an obstacle to winning, then the imperative is to jettison the scientific obligation in such a convoluted way as to camouflage the fact that the evidence is no longer of scientific quality. This, of course, is easy-peasy for modern propagandists.

  • Richard of Moscow

    And if the software will permit me, I had better deal with his other attempt at a question:

    “but do you have any evidence of your global cooling thing…?”

    – I’ll provisionally translate ‘thing’ here as my reference to the fact that the 70s global cooling nonsense was from climatologists. It was covered extensively in many publications of the time, but in any case, your own ramblings also gave climatologists the ‘credit.’

    You did add that around three quarters of papers from that decade ‘were about possible warming’ – (Genius! The temperature during an interglacial might POSSIBLY go up?) – Irrelevant to the discussion unless you can produce a similar amount of papers from your co-religionists in the 90s, in which they accurately predict the Global non-warming (and non-cooling) we’ve seen this century.

    Or do you just want to say your religion is older than we thought? If so, I think the Zoroastrians and most others kick your backsides on that score.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    John Holland

    My post of 10.36pm

    Have you come up with anyone yet who you consider to be both a reputable scientist and an sceptic of the man-made global warming brouhaha? Or is it as I thought, that you determine the reputation of others according to how well their opinions fit in with your own prejudices?

  • Simon Stephenson.

    John Holland : 10.54am

    I see you’ve dragged out the old propagandist’s tool – if your opponents can’t prove that they’re right then it can be assumed that they’re wrong, but your side, paradoxically, has only to appeal to authority to make all its assertions unquestionably correct.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    John Holland : 10.25am

    “I’ve remembered why I stopped posting on this site; if the moderator doesn’t like what one says, it just doesn’t get put out, regardless of any putative language or legal issues. Odd, for a site so keeen on crying ‘PC censorship’ at every opportunity. Who’d’ve thunk it?”

    I think you’ll find this is a fairly recent thing, and that it’s connected to the number of words, rather than the content. I’ve had several years of having all my posts accepted, but in the last few weeks I’ve had a number which have been turned down seemingly automatically by the system – they’ve all been relatively long, and detailed posts, and none of them has contained links elsewhere.

    Maybe David Blackburn could enlighten us as to what’s happening?

    Perhaps, unless a punchy accusation against the Spectator is just too much to resist, you might revisit the assertion that you had posts without hyperlinks censored further in the past?

  • John Holland

    Richard of Moscow-

    No, I don’t know why I addressed my response to you, either.

    Maybe it’s because of your elegantly rational debating technique- calling every scientist you think you disagree with a liar, with no references or facts to back this up, along with gems of intellectual debate like ‘educationaly sub-normal geeks’.

    I know you’re not remotely interested, but do you have any evidence of your global cooling thing, something that proves wrong the boring old method of counting the scientific papers published in the ‘seventies, which shows that over three quarters were about possible warming, and less than one quarter predicting this cooling that every Spectator reader remembers so fondly? Still, good to know you were all spending the ‘seventies assiduously reading climateology papers. Or do you sort of remember something about an ice age in the Telegraph over breakfast one morning while listening to the latest platter from Shawadywady?

    The point I tried to make before, but wasn’t allowed to for some reason, is, if it is absolutely certain that all these educationally sub-normal geeks (and dear old Dave Atternborough) are lying for financial and political reasons, if it’s been proved beyond doubt that they are frauds, why arn’t you and your chums taking them to court?
    Seriously, what’s the problem? They are engaged in a massive criminal conspiracy, let’s get these people into gaol.

  • John Holland

    I’ve remembered why I stopped posting on this site; if the moderator doesn’t like what one says, it just doesn’t get put out, regardless of any putative language or legal issues.
    Odd, for a site so keeen on crying ‘PC censorship’ at every opportunity.
    Who’d’ve thunk it?

  • Pete H

    Pot Head, it is not up to the sceptics to prove anything, science works the opposite way round (or used to!).

    The warmists have come up with theories based on models and it is up to them to prove they are correct. So far they have come up with jack sh/t in the way of empirical evidence to prove man made CO2 will cause catastrophic climate warming. They cannot even show the “Hotspot”!

  • Edward McLaughlin

    Thank God we have such momentous authorities as Pot Head and normanc to bring us back into line.

    For a time it looked as though the, deniers would carry the day and the Palm developments of Dubai were not going to be swept beneath the briny.

  • Al

    Ah did he use his divining rod to find water though? I’m very concerned – last time he tried there was too much interference. Also, Hong Kong – Greeks – Sweden: breaking news! Aka: your ‘cover star’ is a fraud and a sham. Shame really.

  • Richard of Moscow

    John Holland, I’m not sure why you addressed the post to me, since I did not suggest taking the ‘dowser’ any more seriously than one should take the CAGW BS merchants.
    By the way, did you know this very site was once infested by someone with a user name very similar to your own, who was caught telling the demonstrable lie that the MWP was not as warm as the present day?

    And yes, the geo-engineers are hardly disinterested parties, since their solutions rely on governments paying them to solve any warming, but at a couple of hundred million they are – at worst – far cheaper agenda-merchants than Al Gore and his ilk.

    The CAGW mob, as “climatologists,” are also not disinterested parties, for obvious reasons, and have no evidence, AND unfortunately have ‘previous’ as they are the educationally-subnormal geeks who gave us the ‘global cooling’ scare, and for the same reasons.

    All I ask of the CAGW crowd is to ponder the Russian saying: no-one believes a liar, even when he’s telling the truth. If CAGW IS real, you lot had better ease up on the lies.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Steven Dobbs : 10.35pm

    A bit late on parade aren’t you? If you’ld been quicker opening your email from Warmist HQ’s Troll Direction Centre, I could have included you in my 10.36 post.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    my post 10.51pm

    browneaten = browbeaten. Sorry.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Rod Liddle’s Legal Advisor : 6.41pm

    I’d say that only a small part of the warmist zealotry is about money. Most of it is just the most recent demonstration by a relatively small number of puritanical narcissists of how viscerally they hate the hoi polloi – especially those who think that human life is about more than being browneaten by the strictures of a bunch of hairshirted goons. These goons are, of course, far too few in number to carry any weight on their own, so they gather support from the weaker, more credulous members of society, by spreading fabricated scare stories about what’s going to happen if we don’t all go back to living in the middle-ages. Like zealots in other areas, they’re remarkably successful, because aggressive confrontation with the opposition is the sum total of their lives – whereas the rest of us have far more important things to do with our time.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    John Holland, AlwaysIntegrity, Santorum, when the tide goes out and Steffan John.

    Amazing! Just like buses, you all five turned up together. If one were a conspiracy theorist one could easily believe that your almost simultaneous appearance on this thread was something that was externally organised rather than self-generated. Well done James Delingpole, I say, if he’s got you lot so frit that you need to hunt in packs.

    Anyway, the real point of the post is to observe that since all of you are suggesting that Morner is discredited, maybe you could go through your records of the capabilities and credibility of scientists and let us have a short list of those who are (a) reputable and (b) sceptical about the man-made warming brouhaha.

    I appreciate you may have difficulty fulfilling this request, since it is perhaps your view that it is impossible to be both reputable and sceptical of AGW. If this is the case, maybe you’ld let us know, so that we’d know that according to you anyone not adhering to the warmist view must by definition be a nutcase.

  • Steven Dobbs


    I couldn’t agree more with you.

    This whole AGW scam is nothing more that a disguised attempt at class warfare to tax the so called rich who are in effect the hardest working and most useful members of society.



  • Steffan John

    You really are going down the conspiracy nut-job route now aren’t you? Just because you’re entitled to your own opinions doesn’t mean you’re entitled to your own facts.

  • when the tide goes out…

    I’d love to know why Spectator readers are so keen to believe the most shoddy research ever published if it supports their viewpoint, but absolutely refuse to accept the most well-researched findings if they don’t?

    (But then I guess most of the posters above are simply industry-funded trolls…)

  • Always Integrity

    So, let me see;

    On one side we apparently have a world wide conspiracy of renown scientists who almost 100% agree that we have a really serious long term man made problem.

    On the other side we have a gaggle of ‘proud to be ignorant’ angry people who would rather believe each other and professional lobbyists / bloggers paid for by the coal and gas industries.

    Tough choice this …

  • Santorum

    Oh dear oh dear. The Speccie has ballsed up big time with this one. Morner is a discredited loon. And Fraser is getting a fearful humbling for allowing this article to go ahead. See Geo Monbiot’s latest article for a comprehensive dismantling.

  • Rod Liddle’s Legal Advisor

    The Spectator has become a bit of an intellectual cul de sac hasn’t it?

    As someone who is moderately sceptical about most things, I can’t see why there should be a well- funded global warming conspiracy. Surely most of the money is in the hands of those who are pro status quo?

  • AlwaysIntegrity

    This ‘expert’ is a psuedoscintist laughing stock amongst real scientists – and 97% of real climate scientists agree that man made global warming is both real and dangerous.

    Presumably you have been influenced by the loony Republican right – what next – Evolution a fraud by mad evolutionary scientists

    Are their any scientist editors on the staff – youv’e been had by a crackpot gentlemen.

    If the ice on Greenland melts, and it has already started, sea levl will eventually rise by some 20 feet – it may take 150 years and I’m sure that we can relaocate london given that lead in time.

    Of course 20ft in 150 years is not much but that is the nature of climate change effects – slow but sure.

  • John Holland

    Richard of Moscow-

    Thanks for putting everyone right on this one.

    So it’s REAL science we need. That’s simple then.
    Maybe we could dowse for it.

    Or perhaps, the scores of politically motivated non-scientists on this sight howling against the politically-motivated, non-science of ‘the enemy’ is, by definition, a desperately unenlightening sight, psychologically bonding I’m sure, but scientifically null.

    I mean, seriously, does anyone on this sight really imagine that this is a beacon of objective, politically neutral reason, any more than the average Gruaniad blog sight?

    Please, get a grip, and be honest. It’s just the usual big, easy, mutually back-slapping yahoo, irrevant to the actual complexities of the situation.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Cassandra King : 4.05pm

    Spot on.

  • John Holland

    Oh sorry, I meant ‘The Hong Kong of the Greeks’ (that’s Sweden, by the way)