1 comment on “Palau disappeared due to rising sea levels?

Colin Johnstone

Hi Steve. For some reason, I have never really read much of your blog, and have only watched your YouTube videos. I was browsing some of your posts today and I came across this one. I decided to have a look at the National Post article you link to.

My first impression when reading it was that the central claim, that the UN had predicted the demise of the island of Palau by 2010 in models run in 2005, seems highly improbable (not because there appears not to be an ‘island of Palau’). The average magnitude of sea level rise is only a few mm per year, and the rate is somewhat larger in the pacific, with a value more like 10mm per year or more. The highest point in Palau (the island chain) is 240m. The capital city of Palau, Ngerulmud, appears to be at an elevation of 3m (http://dateandtime.info/citycoordinates.php?id=7303944), which at a rate of 10 mm/year, would take 300 years to flood. The idea that the UN predicted in 2005 that it would happen with 5 years does not sound reasonable.

I have been unable to find this claim anywhere on the internet with all of my searches bringing me back to this National Post article. The author provides three links as references at the end. The third link is described by the author as

“For the original study by Professor Norman Myers of Oxford on which the UN based its mapping, click here”

This is a link to a pdf that appears to be a short text written as part of a conference that took place in 2005 organised by the OSCE and not the UN, and is not a scientific paper and the author is not a climate scientist. From what I can tell, the paper does not refer to Palau at all, does not seem to discuss climate models, and makes only one passing reference to sea-level rise.

The second link the author provides is to a pdf that appears to be a screenshot from a website, though it seems to have been carefully edited to make it hard to see which website it is from. This website also makes no mention of Palau or sea-level rise. From the National Post article, and the pdf itself, you would think that these predictions come from UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). With a bit of Googling, I found that the screenshot appears to come from the website for ‘GRID-Arendal’, which has some association with UNEP. They have replaced the page depicted in the pdf with this http://www.grida.no/general/4700.aspx. The website contains the following message

“We have decided to withdraw the product and accompanying text. It follows some media reports suggesting the findings presented were those of UNEP and the UN, which they are not.”

The first link is just a blow-up of the plot in the second link.

So anyway, I had a lot of fun looking this up. It appears that the claim you report was cooked-up by the author of the National Post article as a way to falsly discredit climate science models and the UN. That such an obviously false article would be written and published makes me think that you shouldn’t rely on this particular author and this particular newspaper for information on cliamte change.

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