Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from David Appell

The Tsunami and Global Warming

A meme is starting to develop, that environmentalists and others are linking the recent tsunami to global warming. Chinese meteorologists, Richard Dawkins and Greenpeace’s Stephen Tindale have all implied that there is either a link between the tsunami and global…

  • January 6, 2005

A meme is starting to develop, that environmentalists and others are linking the recent tsunami to global warming. Chinese meteorologists, Richard Dawkins and Greenpeace’s Stephen Tindale have all implied that there is either a link between the tsunami and global warming or there could be in the future.

While sea level will be slightly higher in a globally warmed world, tsunamis are singular events caused by earthquakes or other undersea events–another 10 centimeters of sea level is dwarfed by a 10-meter wave crashing onshore. The links are rubbish.

What’s really going on, though, is one more battle in the war over global warming. Climate change skeptics think that by highlighting the one or two crackpots who don’t know any better and who link tsunamis and global warming, they’ll somehow tear down the case for anthropogenic climate change. By conflating a couple of know-nothing extremists with the scientific case for global climate change, they think they can stain the entire scientific enterprise. There are always going to be crackpots, but they shouldn’t be considered as spokespersons for the science.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.