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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.

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