Global Warming And Sea Level: Another False Alarm

Published May 31, 2016

(Chicago, IL: March 12, 2009) Speakers at a United Nations conference on global warming taking place in Copenhagen made global headlines Tuesday by claiming melting polar ice is causing global sea levels to rise faster than previously expected.

But James M. Taylor, a senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute, notes the best available research shows there has been no acceleration of sea-level rise since the end of the Little Ice Age in the late nineteenth century, and global sea level has actually been declining since 2005. [See Holgate 2007 and Jevrejeva et al. 2006, complete source citations at the end of this media alert.]

Moreover, Taylor points out that polar ice is no less extensive than it was in 1979, when satellites first began accurately measuring polar ice sheets, so melting snow and ice are not likely to be causing rising sea levels. Antarctica is actually gaining ice mass as its temperatures fall. [See Krinner et al. 2007, at the end of this media alert.]

Why is there such a large disconnect between U.N. cries of alarm and real-world climate data indicating nothing unusual is occurring?

One likely answer, Taylor says, can be found in the self-interest of the bureaucrats and environmentalists who make up the vast majority of attendees at the U.N. conference. “Virtually everyone at the Copenhagen conference stands to make more money if a new global warming treaty is approved later this year. Follow the money. These bureaucrats and environmentalists are looking out for their own paychecks and careers first, and looking at the real science second or not at all.”

Evidence of the conflict of interest, Taylor says, can be seen in the eight corporations that are listed as “Star” sponsors on the official Web site of the Copenhagen conference at All have major interests in renewable power and the emerging multi-billion-dollar carbon offset industries. This is in striking contrast to a conference on climate change that just concluded in New York, which accepted no corporate funding, and where speakers concluded that global warming is not likely to cause rising sea levels.

For further comment, James M. Taylor may be reached by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 941-776-5690.


Holgate, S.J. 2007. On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century. Geophysical Research Letters 34: 10.1029/2006GL028492.

Jevrejeva, S., Grinsted, A., Moore, J.C. and Holgate, S. 2006. Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records. Journal of Geophysical Research 111: 10.1029/2005JC003229.

Krinner, G., Magand, O., Simmonds, I., Genthon, C. and Dufresne, J.L. 2007. Simulated Antarctic precipitation and surface mass balance at the end of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Climate Dynamics 28: 215-230.