Subject: Thanks for the call, Bruce!

From: David Burton
Date: Thu, May 8, 2014 at 6:01 PM
To: Bruce Siceloff 919-829-4527 <>
Dear Bruce,

For your reference, this is my web site:

I have links to various documents related to the 2010-2012 NC Sea Level fight on the "resources" page of my site, here:

Here's the critique that I wrote of the 2010 Science Panel Report, in 2011:

The 2010 Report claimed that, "The rate of MSL rise has increased in response to global warming."  (I couldn't remember the exact quote when I spoke with you.)

That was a very striking and very elementary error, which was central to the Report. Nobody who's familiar with the topic of sea-level rise should have made such a blunder.

If I'd been on the Science Panel, the Report would not have contained such errors.

The 2012 Addendum abandoned that claim. Instead, it says, "acceleration [is] expected this century [though] past data shows none," and "the question of whether or not SLR is currently accelerating is a valid question that warrants continued research."

That's a very dramatic reversal, yet the addendum never admitted that the 2010 Report contained any errors at all!

That's "spin." It's a typical characteristic of political documents. It's not supposed to happen in science. The best scientists go out of their way to identify, acknowledge, and correct errors.

Sea level is central to the climate change debate. According to most climate alarmists, the worst consequence of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions is supposed to be accelerated sea-level rise. Do you remember Al Gore's map of the USA with part of eastern North Carolina and a huge chunk of Florida underwater?

But the scientific data does not support such fears.

Mankind has dramatically increased average atmospheric CO2 levels over the last 2/3 century, from less than 310 ppm to the current 400 ppm. That increase been a tremendous boon for agriculture. It is directly responsible for at least 15% of the improvement in agricultural productivity that we've enjoyed. But how has it affected the rate of sea-level rise?

Fortunately, we have excellent sea-level records, extending back over one hundred years at many locations, thanks to the tide gauges maintained at many harbors and ports, for navigation purposes. (See the "data" page on my web site.) So, how much increase have the tide gauges recorded in the rate of sea-level rise, in response to all that additional CO2?

None at all, as far as can be measured. For instance, here's the sea-level record at Sydney, Australia:

If CO2 and other anthropogenic greenhouse gases were causing an increase in the rate of sea-level rise, then the right-hand half of that graph would curve upward. But it doen't. Sea-level is rising no faster now than it was before mankind put all that additional CO2 into the atmosphere.

Nor is Sydney atypical. Here's NOAA's collection of graphed sea-level records from tide gauges, set to music(!) by Tom Moriarty:

If you watch that video, you'll notice that sea level trends vary greatly around the world. In fact, at about 20% of the best tide gauges, the long-term sea-level trend is down, rather than up. But the important thing to notice is that none of the best tide gauge records of sea-level show sustained acceleration (increase in rate) in the last 80 years.

W/r/t the effect of carbon emissions on sea-level, we've done the experiment, and we know the result. The last almost-100 ppm of anthropogenic CO2 has not detectably increased the rate of sea-level rise, so it is highly unlikely that the next of 100 ppm will have much effect, either.

BTW, here's a photo of locally-elevated sea-level, due to thermal expansion, which doesn't affect sea-level elsewhere:

Feel free to call again if you have any follow-up questions, or if you want to talk about anything else.

Warmest regards,

Dave Burton
109 Black Bear Ct, Cary, NC 27513
NC-20 Science Advisor
Member, NC Sea Level Rise Impact Study Advisory Committee
IPCC AR5 WG1 Expert Reviewer
M: 919-244-3316
W: 919-481-0149