Montreal (CNSNews.com) - A climatologist has dismissed a Reuters news report claiming that residents of the Pacific Island of Tegua in Vanuatu had to move to escape "global warming."
The article, published Tuesday, cited United Nations officials' claims that the effects of "global warming" caused rising sea levels and more storms, forcing islanders to flee inland. The article's publication coincided with the 11th annual U.N. Climate Change Conference in Montreal.
"That is a shame, quite frankly, that this issue is being played like this at the [U.N.] climate change conference. It demeans the issue when it's so easy to counter a strident assertion with facts," said Patrick J. Michaels, the author of several books on climate change, including a new one that will be released next week entitled "Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming."
Michaels, who believes claims of catastrophic human-caused "global warming" are scientifically unfounded, is an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
"It would seem that [the Reuters article] about the combination of sea level rise and increased storminess causing people to evacuate (to the island's interior) isn't based upon much real data," Michaels told Cybercast News Service on Tuesday.
The Dec. 6 Reuters article by environmental correspondent Alister Doyle claimed that about 100 residents in the Lateu settlement on Tegua island in Vanuatu were forced to move inland because of cyclone-enhanced "king tides" that caused flooding and made the island uninhabitable.
The Reuters article included a statement from the U.N.'s Environment Program claiming that the residents of Vanuatu had "become one of, if not the first, to be formally moved out of harm's way as a result of climate change." However, the report did not feature any scientists or experts questioning the conclusion that human-caused "global warming" was to blame for the residents' coastal retreat.
Michaels said the scientific data does not back up the claims in the Reuters article about the evacuation of Vanuatu being linked to the U.N.'s projections of melting icecaps and rising sea levels.
"The island in question has experienced no net sea level rise in the last half century, according to the combined satellite and submarine data," Michaels said. "In fact, areas to the west such as [the island of] Tuvalu show substantial declines in sea level over that period," he added.
Michaels added that "the United Nations intergovernmental panel notes a decline in the frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes in the South Pacific in recent decades.
"With sea level not showing a rise and the decline in the frequency of tropical cyclones, it's very hard to make the strident statements that were made in the [Reuters article,]" he added.
The fact that Reuters published the article without quoting experts who question the science behind the "global warming" claim did not surprise Michaels.
"Reuters has generally been very radical on 'global warming.' This is nothing new for them," he said, noting that in much of the media, "the appropriate level of journalistic cynicism does not apply to 'global warming.'"
Cybercast News Service previously reported on a December 2004 article, in which the Reuters reporter Doyle linked the tsunami that devastated parts of Asia to "global warming."
"A creeping rise in sea levels tied to global warming, pollution and damage to coral reefs may make coastlines even more vulnerable to disasters like tsunamis or storms in [the] future," wrote Doyle in last year's article. He attributed the opening paragraph of the story to "experts." However, Doyle's story did not contain any quotes directly mentioning the theory of "global warming."
Michaels challenged the accuracy of computer-generated models that project an alarming rise in sea levels to the melting of icecaps.
"There is a lot of recent research showing that Antarctica has been gaining ice, in other words is contributing negatively to sea level rise. Research published just two months ago in Science Magazine shows that Greenland is still gaining ice at two inches per year, average, over the island," Michaels said.
"I expect that the estimates of sea level rise are going to have to be revised downward. That's a prediction that you just heard from me based upon reality. Computer models eventually have to come in line with reality," he added.
More than 8,000 government leaders, environmentalists and scientists are attending the U.N. conference to discuss what steps to take to further limit greenhouse gases beyond the Kyoto Protocol's provisions. Organizers are calling the conference, which runs until Dec. 9, the largest meeting since the Kyoto Climate Conference in 1997.
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