The effects of climate change are here.

McKinsey & Company

Climate change has got the insurance industry worried. Or, more to the point, they are worried that they might fail to capitalise upon the panic created by the UN. It is for that reason that the United States Senate Committee on the Budget recently held a hearing titled ‘Risky Business: How Climate Change is Changing Insurance Markets’. This proved to be the perfect opportunity for key sector representatives to impress upon the US government just how important restructuring the insurance markets will be to meet the challenge. Or was it the government doing the pressing? It’s difficult to tell sometimes, when so many like-minded people get into a room to debate an issue. Whatever the case, there was much talk of the ‘searchlight of science’ and how clever and switched-on the insurance boffins were. The only fly in the ointment was the presence of Dr Judith Curry, who had turned up to offer some balance to the proceedings – only to provide the perfect foil for a showboating senator with an axe to grind. More of this later, but first I want to say a few words regarding that scientific searchlight. And for such a purpose I will focus on Hurricane Sandy and the damage it wreaked on New York city. If there was ever a case in point to justify the insurance industry’s concerns, then surely that was it. Well, let us see.

So what’s going down in the Big Apple?

If there is anything guaranteed to give insurance companies a sleepless night it is the thought of setting the premiums too low for expensive real estate located on the climate hazard frontline. It is not surprising, therefore, that Senator Whitehouse opened the hearing (actually 34mins into the transmission) with the following remark:

As we have heard and will hear again, sea-level rise and wildfire risk can upset property markets so profoundly as to cause systemic economic damage across the whole economy.

A rising sea-level is of particular concern because coastal properties are at most risk from the damages resulting from storm surge, and it is part of the climate change orthodoxy that such dangers are destined to increase as the ice caps melt and the oceans thermally expand. Eager to demonstrate how this is already a problem causing massive financial loss, the insurance companies have made repeated references to Hurricane Sandy, and the damage it inflicted on New York.  It seems the perfect example by which to inform the restructuring of the insurance market in the light of climate change. For example, take the following case study included in a Lloyd’s white paper on catastrophe modelling. Predictably, the authors were keen to highlight the extent of the damage and the role of sea-level rise (my emphasis):

Sandy caused an estimated $20-25 billion of insured losses mostly in New York and New Jersey largely arising from flooding due to the storm surge associated with what was a relatively low wind speed, albeit a large storm. Much has been made of the fact that Sandy made landfall near high tide and the anomalous, but by no means unexpected, path taken by the storm when it interacted with a second low pressure system – Hall and Sobel estimated a 700 year return period for Superstorm Sandy’s track. The contribution of sea-level change has however only recently been highlighted.

So what of that sea-level rise?

Superstorm Sandy broke 16 historical tide records along the east coast and Sweet et al. (2013) have estimated a one-to-two third decrease in the return period of a Sandy level event recurrence between 1950 and 2012 due to global sea-level rise (thermal expansion and ice melt), ocean circulation variation and subsidence.

It continues:

The approximately 20 centimetres of sea-level rise at the Battery since the 1950s, with all other factors remaining constant, increased Sandy’s ground-up surge losses by 30% in New York alone. Further increases in sea-level in this region would non-linearly increase the loss potential from similar storms.

Well that all seems very clear cut. The sea-level at the Battery has increased 20cm since 1950 and that massively increased the damages due to storm surge. The sea-level is rising due to climate change and it is only going to get worse.

Except for one little detail. I seem to remember someone saying “…due to global sea-level rise (thermal expansion and ice melt), ocean circulation variation and subsidence”. Given the potential for contributing to the local sea-level rise, and hence damage caused, one might have expected Lloyd’s to have a lot more to say regarding the extent to which subsidence contributed. But on that subject the white paper remained strangely silent. So I had to do my own sleuthing. What I discovered was very easy to find and so I have to assume the same information is readily obtainable by the boffins at Lloyd’s using their scientific searchlight.

Two years after Sandy, according to the Journal of Ocean Engineering Science, the relevant numbers were as follows:

In the New York City area, the likely absolute SLR [since 1950] is about 0.7 to 1.0 mm/yr., the likely relative sea-level acceleration is about +0.008 mm/yr², the likely subsidence is about -2.151 to -3.076 mm/yr., and the likely relative SLR is about -2.851 to -4.076 mm/yr.

That means that of the relative rise in sea-level since 1950, about 75% had been due to subsidence and only 25% due to other factors. And just to cast further doubt on the narrative of New York drowning under melting ice caps, the journal adds the following:

Although the climate models predict that rising CO2 levels should cause an accelerated sea-level rise, the sea level measurements show that, thus far, there has been no detectable acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise.

The bottom line is that what is going down in the Big Apple is the ground, largely due to the sheer weight of the civil infrastructure built upon it, combined with the excessive extraction of water from its aquifer and the fact that much of New York was built upon landfill. Yes it is only going to get worse, but the prospects of global sea level rise becoming the greatest contributor to Manhattan Island’s demise are still a long way off. And that’s the science that Lloyd’s et al seem to have downplayed when wringing their hands over Hurricane Sandy.

I appreciate that this is only one example of misdirection by the insurance industry, but it is a very significant one. Hurricane Sandy is a poster boy for that industry and has been used repeatedly to help justify a massive restructuring of the insurance market. The storm surge did indeed result in damage losses that were 30% greater than would have been the case without the last 70 years of rising sea-levels. But this rise was largely due to a subsidence that is destined to continue. If you are going to restructure your market, you need to focus upon that fact, alongside the increasing habit of building new developments in flood plains and along the coast.

Back to the hearing

An insurer’s profits lie in the gap falling between rhetoric and reality. Consequently, although an understanding of the reality is essential, so is the support of any rhetoric that helps widen the gap. For that reason alone, Dr Curry was always going to struggle to get her message across at a hearing designed to legitimise ‘changing insurance markets’. She happened to be the most qualified person in the room to advise on the science, but that was no good to anyone when her advice failed to align with business objectives.

Yes, she made it perfectly clear that the drive to restructure the market was premised upon the entirely implausible RCP8.5. Yes, she made it perfectly clear that the data pointing to a dangerous acceleration of sea-level rise simply doesn’t exist (acceleration has been predicted but the rise so far remains relatively steady and slow with no unequivocal correlation with anthropogenic warming). And yes, she made it clear that the science behind extreme weather event attribution provides a somewhat shaky foundation upon which to build a catastrophe model. But none of that was going to go down well. It is therefore no surprise whatsoever that the chair of the hearing dedicated the closing moments (starting at 1hr 57mins into the transmission) to the delivery of a well-rehearsed ambush designed to discredit Dr Curry as an expert witness. And I’m afraid to say it worked very well. Dr Curry, seemingly unprepared for the onslaught, either lacked the oratory craft to counter the senator’s grandstanding, or was just too polite to join in. Whatever the case, the internet now has plenty of out-of-context material to offer under headings along the lines of ‘Denier roasted/slammed/owned/destroyed by senator’. You can read Dr Curry’s own measured and reasoned response to the experience on her own website, but I am afraid the damage is already done. The real searchlight of science was put out by the catapult of politics.

Lloyd’s had offered up Hurricane Sandy as a case study in a whitepaper dedicated to climate change impact, when it would had been much more appropriate to include it in a whitepaper dedicated to subsidence. It is true that subsidence was mentioned, but only as an afterthought, suggesting it played only a minor role. The reality was quite different. This worries me because it calls into question the idea that the insurance industry is approaching the challenge of climate change objectively and with only its clients’ interests at heart. But it doesn’t surprise me any more than Dr Curry’s treatment at the congressional hearing did. When it comes to such hearings, science may be talking but money talks a whole lot louder. As in all matters of risk and adventure, the question that should always be on everyone’s lips is, ‘cui bono?’

Footnote: The image used for this article is one of Dr Judith Curry providing testimony at a previous congressional hearing. Also, contrary to my article’s subtitle, the relevant hearing was attended by Dr Curry remotely. In contrast, everyone else travelled to Washington to register in person their concerns for the climate change caused by travel.


  1. What you may be missing John is that there is a debate within the science about the causes of sea-level rise and the relative importance of difference causes for the rise. Thus much of “the $ceience” can be blunted by getting experts to disagree with each other.

    What I find difficult to understanding is the overall acceptance by non-informed persons that sea-level rise is accelerating when time and time again acknowledged experts state there is no evidence for any acceleration anywhere

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Alan,

    “What you may be missing John is that there is a debate within the science about the causes of sea-level rise and the relative importance of difference causes for the rise”

    I deliberately shied away from that aspect of the debate. For example, I prefered not to say anything further regarding the slowing of the Gulfstream and how this may be affecting sea-levels on the Eastern seaboard. The essential point, I thought, was that irrespective of the causes of global and local sea-level rise, the more important effect is the subsidence of the land. For coastal cities this is typically 3 times as significant as the oceanographic effects. Maybe, therefore, the insurance companies should focus more upon that. And, as you say, there is also a perverse overall acceptance of a phenomenon that doesn’t actually exist!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It was actually a pretty pathetic ‘takedown’ which looks good on film and might impress all the wrong people but is basically an unsophisticated and nauseatingly familiar climate sceptic ‘gotcha’ drama cooked up by climate alarmists to supposedly demonstrate the professional incompetence of scientists who question the enforced consensus. You could tell that right from the start when he asked the other ‘expert’ witnesses whether they doubted the proposition that there was ‘nothing unusual going on here in relation to climate related risks’. Looks at them. They shake their heads. ‘No, no, no, no,’ he concludes. Very scientific that, I must say. Then he goes on to ask the ‘killer’ question of these ‘experts’ from the insurance industry: ‘Do any of you doubt that unusual risk is being caused by emissions from fossil fuel combustion?’ Camera pans to the seated witnesses. A couple of them shake their heads, one manages to then nod his head, the other two just look blankly. Whitehouse takes this as ‘scientific endorsement’ of the ‘correlation’ between ‘unusual risk’ and burning of fossil fuels. Debate closed. Now onto questioning the denier scientist who claims there is no unusual risk and what risk there is can be attributed significantly to natural climate variability. So he proceeds to get the goon with the intense, staring eyes sitting next to him to present ‘gotcha’ graphs of global mean surface temperature and an analysis of model ‘success’ taken from someone’s blog, which looks great, but is actually junk. All done in such professional polished manner that it comes across as seamless. Unfortunately, Judith was not ready to deliver a professional polished response to this attack upon her integrity and actual science. You can’t blame her. She’s tired, worn down and effectively out there alone against these immaculately groomed clowns using Big Money and Big Politics to silence real science and real data.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Indeed I don’t blame Dr Curry. Whitehouse was a lawyer, and he seemed to have the body language, rhetoric and showmanship down to a tee (those sly glances at the gallery as he delivers each question, the peering over the glasses, etc.). No doubt many an expert witness has been made to look foolish under his slick and self-assured, but essentially vacuous cross-examination. It was pure circus, but no less effective for that. The graph he had taken from someone’s blog was risible. In a court of law five seconds wouldn’t have gone by before someone shouted ‘objection, inadmissible’. Unfortunately, Dr Curry doesn’t seem to have had the right sort of background to engage in that sort of cut and thrust. But actually that is to her credit.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Whitehouse also openly supports censorship oof political views he dislikes. Years ago I and others pointed out that the corruption represented by the climate consensus fea mongering would metastasize acrossth oublic square. It has. Public health, basic biology, history are all now fully infected.
    Our leaders are basically reactionary psychotics. This will end poorly.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Google tells me that Sandy had a 9 foot surge with 14 feet happening at Battery Park. Twenty centimeters is about 8 inches. That’s about 7% of a 9 foot surge. I wonder how they get a 30% greater loss? Does that mean 30% more land got flooded? Once you get hit with 9 feet of water, what difference is 8 more inches going to make?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t honestly know, Mike. I think I would have to look into the post event analyses a lot more deeply. But actually, it’s a lot more intriguing than even your question suggests. Of the 8 inches of sea-level rise, only 2 inches could be attributed to oceanographic effects. That’s 2 inches out of 9 feet, and even that can’t all be said to be down to anthropogenic warming. Nevertheless, I’m not trying to argue that the climate change damages were insignificant, only that they must have been small compared to the damage due to the subsidence. And yet the latter barely gets a mention.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Mike, John,

    Looking through that White Paper, it seems they get the 30% increase in storm surge losses by using the RMS storm surge model which explicitly accounts for natural multidecadal fluctuations in hurricane activity due to ENSO/AMO. RMS modelled losses are only weakly affected by increases in sea surface temperatures – the dominant influence is multi-decadal activity. So that estimated 30% increase in storm surge losses due to a 20cm rise in sea-level is actually largely down to the increase in hurricane activity due to natural causes during the period in question, not ‘climate change’. More misrepresentation of data and science.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for the link to JC’s dignified response. I particularly liked her concluding paragraphs:

    If you are going to attempt such a takedown in the future, I suggest that you need better staffers. The questions on “corrupt”, “hoax”, Exxon, and API were truly inane. If you are attempting to prove something such as 2004 climate model projections matching observations, you should rely on a better source than a blog post. In any event, all this seems to have impressed the 80 or so clueless commenters on your youtube clip. But it won’t impress serious people.

    Climate change is a serious issue. Depending on your perspective and values, there will be much future loss and damage from either climate change itself, or from the policies designed to prevent climate change. Conflicts surrounding climate change have been exacerbated by oversimplifying both the problem and its solutions. And from mischaracterizing the risks from climate change.

    Constructively working with your Republican colleagues is essential for accomplishing anything that could help reduce our vulnerability to extreme weather events and the slow creep of warming. A good start would be to provide some modicum of respect towards witnesses invited by Republicans and carefully considering the arguments made in their testimony. Hearings are an opportunity for Senators to actually learn things from the expert witnesses.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Jaime,

    Interesting. And there’s a lot more in that white paper that I think I may get around to reading later.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Mark,

    There are two main themes to my article. The first takes up the theme of ‘critical ignoring’ and illustrates it by demonstrating how unreceptive a hearing can be when minds have already been made up. Judith’s response, as quoted by you, nicely underlines that. The second is the whole idea of catastrophe modelling as a basis for structuring insurance. This is a very big subject, and I have restricted myself to one particular case study that points to some of the difficulties. Once again, Judith’s testimony was very important here but — hey ho — nobody was listening.


  12. Interesting that subsidence in the New York case is hardly considered, then forgotten as a factor, despite its greater relevance to RSLR (Relative Sea Level Rise). This mirrors the situation for another well-publicised case, the Carteret Islands of PNG, which furnished “the world’s first climate-change refugees”. The effect of subsidence there has apparently never been looked at, or so it seems from my Google search.

    The IPCC 6th Assessment Report, Chapter 15, on “Small Islands” is similarly cursory in its consideration of subsidence (‘vertical land movement rates’). It incidentally mentions that subsidence in PNG and Vanuatu is ‘a greater contributor to RSLR than global climate change’, before almost immediately (ten lines later) moving on to RCP 8.5 predictions of doom. The citation is to “Ballu et. al. 2019”, which is not mentioned in the references at the end of the chapter. So basically, despite tectonic subsidence having admittedly greater weight in explanation of RSLR at least for Vanuatu and PNG, it’s barely mentioned, wasn’t followed through for proper citation, and was forgotten about in the report. Everyone is sure that the Carteret Islands are a victim of climate change, and yet the IPCC report hints that that might not actually be the case. But who would know. The overarching paradigm has no interest in lingering on such distractions.

    I eventually found the “Ballu et. al. 2019” reference. It was mis-cited. The actual citation is below. The paper (which is about RSLR in the Pacific Islands region) opens with: “A crucial factor which has often been overlooked and can considerably exacerbate the sea–level change impact at the coast is the vertical land motion (VLM)”. The paper concludes that “Results revealed that the relative sea level has increased more than the global mean sea level (from 0.8 to 4.2 mm yr–1 higher) overall in the region during the last 4–6 decades, especially at the islands located over the most tectonically active areas where future changes cannot be reliably projected.”.

    Most of the article is paywalled, so any consideration of Carterets in particular is unavailable. However, and this is my point, the paper lends credence to the possibility that, although there is background sea level rise, the Carteret Islands ‘refugees’ are not so much fleeing from climate change effects as from tectonic processes (‘vertical land motion’, VLM). Right? Because VLM is much greater than SLR in parts of the Pacific, and that may include Carterets too. That is the point, and it isn’t considered anywhere outside of this paywalled Elsevier paper. Because dominant paradigm > the science is settled = politicised narrative.

    Mycoo et al, 2020. IPCC WGII Sixth Assessment Report, Chapter 15: Small Islands. Second Order Draft.

    A. Martínez-Asensio, G. Wöppelmann, V. Ballu, M. Becker, L. Testut, A.K. Magnan, V.K.E. Duvat, 2019. Relative sea-level rise and the influence of vertical land motion at Tropical Pacific Islands,
    Global and Planetary Change, 176: 132-143.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thank you Ian, very thorough. I have to say that the more authorities like the IPCC critically ignore subsidence, the more they go down in my estimation.

    Go down, geddit?

    I’m here all week.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Ian,

    I’m afraid the ploy is widespread. Every time climate change shares culpability with other factors, it receives top billing, no matter how minor its role.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Richard, your reply gives me a chuckle. I’m assuming the last line is the driest of British humour. John, yes, it’s this “every problem looks like a nail when all you own is a hammer” that irks me. It’s the very definition of lacking intelligence.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Actually, while we are on this, did anyone catch this from BBC News a few days ago? : “Climate change: World’s top court to weigh in” (

    Here’s my summary of it: Vanuatu won a UN resolution “seeking legal clarity on responsibilities for climate change.” This was based on Vanuatu’s claim that “rising sea levels” attributed to climate change, has caused damage equated to “roughly half the country’s annual GDP”. So, now, “The International Court of Justice will now prepare an advisory opinion that could be cited in climate court cases.”. Supporters hope that the outcome will be a favourable ruling that can then be used as a precedent in future international court cases, to sue the world’s governments for not reducing “warming gases”.

    We are watching an unassailable piece of weaponised disinformation being born.

    That IPCC report I cited above, said there was a “subsidence of –5.4 ±0.3 mm/year-1 in Vanuatu and in Papua New Guinea”, and said that in those regions, “subsidence is a greater contributor to RSLR than global climate change”. That’s what the report said. GMSL (global mean sea level) rise was cited by the report while discussing this point, as “1.6–1.8 mm/year-1 over the 20th century”. So then, for Vanuatu, vertical land movement is about three times more significant in accounting for RSLR than absolute sea level rise. In other words, whatever problems Vanuatu is facing with relative sea level rise, it is mostly due to tectonic processes causing subsidence, rather than relatively mild climate change-induced sea level rise.

    It’s possible this fact will be mentioned by a lone dissenting affidavit to the ICJ case. But given the way the process works, which is practically unanimous belief in the dominant paradigm rather than assessment of evidence, that fact will almost certainly be ignored. Yes, the most fundamental consideration in the whole case will be ignored; I think that is inevitable. So a false narrative will be enshrined into the ICJ legal judgment, which will then be used forever after as a legal precedent around the world to sue governments not doing enough to net-zero CO2. And yet, it’s not based on truth but a baseless groupthink assumption that is currently fashionable among the elites. And that, kids, is how the adults roll.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Peering futurewards now (after the success of the Vanuatu resolution) we can now firmly perceive a clear reason for governmental support for reducing our output of CO2

    If we don’t take action, the Third World will strip us bare using the agency of the International Court of Justice, penalising us for our inaction. We will become pariahs or destitute (or rather you lot will, I might be long gone!)

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Ian,

    I share your pessimism. This all started in Vanuatu when 27 law students responded to ‘the very obvious signs of climate change all around them’. Getting back to Hurricane Sandy and New York city, let us reflect upon what is very obvious.

    The absolute sea level rise has been measured to be approximately 5cm. Scientists can debate to what extent that rise is due to anthropogenic warming but they cannot conclude that the sea-level rise mediated by climate change exceeds the value that has actually been measured for absolute sea-level rise. And yet, that is precisely what they do in the following paper:

    The paper concludes that approximately $8 billion of the damage caused in New York can be attributed to climate change because of a calculated climate-mediated sea-level rise of 8.9cm (with some considerable uncertainty). They arrived at this figure using a ‘semi-empirical’ method, i.e. they ran straight to the models and asked what CMIP5 had to say on the matter. At no stage do they appear to have sought to validate their calculation by reference to measured values.

    I have no doubt that the posited damages to Vanuatu are based upon equally dodgy calculations and no one will be looking at measured values that take into account subsidence. And the next time that someone dismisses me as an anti-scientific, looney conspiracy theorist in the pay of Big Oil, they might like to start by explaining how 8.9 is less than 5. Alternatively, just explaining how this paper got through peer review would be good enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Actually, just to correct myself, the trick used by the paper was to use a different baseline. The CMIP5 calculation of sea-level rise was with respect to 1900. The measured increase is from 1950. But if we are to make attribution statements we need to have reliable measurements that go back to 1900. For New York, this is not the case. They should have calculated from 1950 so that a legitimate comparison could be made.


  20. P.S. I should have said ”attribution statements that can be calibrated”.


  21. PPS. Besides which, I am beginning to miss my original point. Even if we can attribute $8 billion to climate change (and, as I say, this is based upon a calculation that cannot be sanitised) we need to place this in context. What is the corresponding subsidence figure since 1900? Could it be responsible for $24 billion of damage, for example?

    Anyway, I take back my accusation that the authors of the paper were negligent in checking their figures against measured values. They didn’t do so simply because they couldn’t.


  22. Ian,

    I note that you liked my comment of 8:45am. I trust that you did so in the knowledge that my quip about 8.9 being less than 5 was based upon a stupid error that I had made. Since most of the warming has occurred since 1950, and because that is when reliable gauge measurements started, I had assumed that attribution studies would be baselined on that date. So even when I read in a paper that 1900 was the baseline used, my stupid brain did not register it. But I have already admitted that my stupid brain does stupid things. The simple answer to my question is that 8.9 can be less than 5 in a world were 1900 is less than 1950.

    The shame is that if they had used 1950 as their baseline then we might have been able to use the measured values to calibrate the model calculations, but they didn’t because they were more interested in estimating the full impact over the century. But this just plays further into my concerns. It isn’t the attribution to climate change that interests me so much as the relative attribution compared to subsidence. As far as I am aware, subsidence figures that go back to 1900 do not exist, but I am prepared to conjecture that they remain far greater than the absolute sea-level rise numbers. In fact, the relative attribution may be even higher than the 1950 baseline suggests. We need to know more about the trends in subsidence, but no one seems terribly interested in studying such things. I’m afraid that is not the way the climate attribution world rolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. “Miami and New Orleans face greater sea-level threat than already feared
    Twin studies reveal that ‘acceleration’ of sea-level rise under way, leaving southern US cities in even greater peril”

    Lots of alarmist rhetoric in this piece. If you persevere, tucked away at the end is this:

    Human activity in the Gulf region, which the researchers refer to as “vertical land motion” (VLM), has played a role, the study continues.

    “It is well known that tide gauges in the Gulf of Mexico are subject to significant nonlinear VLM, likely related to oil, gas, or groundwater withdrawal. These nonlinear changes appear predominantly along the western portions of the US Gulf coast (Louisiana and Texas),” it says.

    The first of those two paragraphs says VLM has “played a role”, the next paragraph describes it as “substantial”. Perhaps the article would have done better to focus on that. But then to do so would be to concentrate on real issues and thus distract from the agenda.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Mark,

    At what point does misdirection-thru-omission become a downright lie? I think a strong argument can be made for that Guardian article crossing the boundary. It is quite clear from the structure and content of the article that the authors intend the reader to conclude that there is significant acceleration of sea-level rise at the Gulf Coast and that this is due to global warming. Subsidence, as usual, is mentioned only at the very end as a throw-away line. Okay, they belatedly admit that the contribution is ‘substantial’, but they omit to point out that it is actually almost entirely the cause of the sea-level rise problem. If you want to hear the true story, you need to read stuff like this:

    “Sinking situation of subsidence in Houston, Gulf Coast: Geology, history of groundwater pumping creates ‘perfect storm’ for sinking cities”

    “Texans could be forgiven for having a sinking feeling in 2021. In many cases — particularly in Houston and along the Gulf Coast — Texas is literally sinking, and a new report suggests that the problem will get worse… The analysis estimated the threat of subsidence will grow to affect 1.6 billion people worldwide by 2040. It also found that subsidence most typically occurs in very flat areas made up of alluvial sediments and coastal plains, particularly those in and near densely urban and irrigated areas with high water stress and high groundwater demand. That is, places like Houston and the Gulf Coast.”

    The Guardian’s obsessive refusal to address these issues in an objective and honest manner is a growing source of irritation and concern.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. “New York City is sinking due to weight of its skyscrapers, new research finds
    City is sinking approximately 1-2mm each year on average, worsening effects of sea level rise and flooding threat”

    New York City is sinking in part due to the extraordinary weight of its vertiginous buildings, worsening the flooding threat posed to the metropolis from the rising seas, new research has found.

    The Big Apple may be the city that never sleeps but it is a city that certainly sinks, subsiding by approximately 1-2mm each year on average, with some areas of New York City plunging at double this rate, according to researchers.

    This sinking is exacerbating the impact of sea level rise which is accelerating at around twice the global average as the world’s glaciers melt away and seawater expands due to global heating. The water that flanks New York City has risen by about 9in, or 22cm, since 1950 and major flooding events from storms could be up to four times more frequent than now by the end of the century due to the combination of sea level rise and hurricanes strengthened by climate change….

    Well, there’s a clear admission that subsidence is an issue. There’s still the strange use of language to the effect that sea level rise at New York is twice the global average. I do struggle with that. Sea levels are surely rising at the same rate everywhere, but that rise can be exacerbated by subsidence.

    We aren’t told if the subsidence has been at a steady rate since 1950 (73 years ago), nor is it particularly helpful when trying to make calculations, to have a rate of sinking with a 100% range (1-2mm) or maybe a range twice that (“some areas of New York City plunging at double this rate”). If we assume the worst case (4mm p.a. for 73 years), that’s 29.2cm, or considerably more than the 22cm rise claimed since 1950, so obviously a 4mm x 73 years calculation would be inaccurate and an exaggeration. However, it does seem that subsidence might be responsible for up to (or maybe even more than) half of the claimed sea level “rise” at New York.


  26. Mark,

    According to the research cited by my article, 75% of the rise is due to the subsidence and only 25% is due to global sea level rise. And yet they insist on saying that the former is exacerbating the latter. It is that sort of language that I find very annoying. It’s basically dishonest. Once again, an article that purports to be about subsidence has been twisted into one about climate change.

    Incidentally, I seem to remember reading that scientists think climate change is slowing the gulfstream, resulting in higher seas along the Eastern seaboard.


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