PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Science Director Testifies Before New York City Council Committee on Sea Level Rise

Published October 22, 2018

Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr, Ph.D., will testify today before the Committee on Environmental Protection of the New York City Council to inform members “there is no evidence whatever to support impending sea-level-rise catastrophe.” The hearing is on a resolution asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “include consideration of sea rise in addition to storm surge” to mitigate against another storm like Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Dr. Lehr’s opening statement says, in part:

“Many believe that increasing quantities of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere could result in rising levels of the sea in general and specifically waters around New York City. There is no question that this great metropolis should always be looking to the future to protect the city from the impacts of weather, storms and storm surges, and all else that could affect its infrastructure and the safety of its citizens.

“I am here, however, to inform you that you can afford simple solutions to be prepared for all such uncertainties. There is no evidence whatever to support impending sea-level-rise catastrophe or the unnecessary expenditure of state or federal tax monies to solve a problem that does not exist.”

Read Dr. Lehr’s draft testimony at this link.

Dr. Lehr was apparently the only one to testify and express skepticism of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s predictions of a future dangerous global sea-level rise. He cited the latest sea-level-rise data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to back up his testimony.

Dr. Lehr cited measurements from The Battery station in New York City, showing no increase in sea-level rise since the 1850s.

Lehr testified:

“Tidal gauges at the Battery (chart) and Kings Point (chart) show sea level rising at a pace of 11 inches per century. Both locations show a steady pace of increase, with the same pace of increase holding steady despite periods of relatively rapid temperatures increase and periods of cooling. The Battery measurements date back to 1855, showing the same pace of sea level rise well before the existence of coal power plants and SUVs. …

“In contrast to the steady but modest rise in sea level, revealed in long-term measurements, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) speculates that sea level will almost immediately begin rising significantly more than in the past and present. NOAA records contradict such claims. This pattern of steady but modest sea level rise extends throughout the world, throughout times of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and throughout periods of accelerated warming and cooling.”

Dr. Lehr also showed data of varying rises in sea levels in nine other coastal cities, and one with declining sea level. His conclusions: 

1.     There has been no dramatic sea level rise in the past century, and projections show no dramatic rise is likely to occur in the coming century.

2.     There is no evidence to indicate the rate of sea level rise or fall in any of the areas of this study will be substantially different than has been the case over the past many decades.

3.     There is no correlation between CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and sea level rise. The steady but modest rise in sea level predated coal power plants and SUVs, and has continued at its same pace even as atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million.

“It is wise to address the direct consequences of steady but modest sea level rise, including its impact in the context of extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy,” Dr. Lehr said. “Army Corps plans to prepare New York for such events are certainly justified. These realities, however, do not support catastrophic predictions of rapid and unprecedented sea level rise.”