Whatever Happened to 'Rising Sea Levels'?

Buck Throckmorton21 Jun, 2024 4 Min Read
Not even D.C. is safe!

It’s hard to keep pace with all the ways the climate cult blames naturally occurring phenomena on “climate change,” be it natural disasters, violent storms, or “record” temperatures. While the weather is not getting “more extreme” as the climatistas claim, their apocalyptic rhetoric certainly is, and it’s also getting more dishonest. The conflation of shifting sands on barrier islands with rising sea levels is another scientifically dishonest claim being made by the climate alarmists.

Back in the 1980s, the first generation of global warmists promised that a catastrophic rise in sea levels was likely to submerge the Maldives, among other coastal areas, before 2020. Not only did that never happen, but the Maldives has a greater landmass now than it did when its imminent submersion was a “scientific fact” three decades ago. So, with the oceans not cooperating in rising as prophesied by “climate scientists” 30-plus years ago, the climate hysterics and the credulous media are now blaming the naturally occurring movement of barrier islands on "climate change" and rising seas.

This time we really mean it.

Whenever a beach house on a barrier island is lost to shifting sands, it is now being reported as a harbinger of the coastal doom that is being caused by our carbon sinning. Just a few weeks ago, the American media was somberly reporting about yet another house on North Carolina’s Outer Banks being lost to the rising waters of the Atlantic Ocean. From an AP story dated 5/29/2024:

Another house has collapsed into the Atlantic Ocean along North Carolina’s coast, the sixth to fall along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s beaches in the past four years, according to U.S. National Park Service officials. North Carolina’s coast is almost entirely made up of narrow, low-lying barrier islands that are increasingly vulnerable to storm surges and to being washed over from both the bay and the sea as the planet warms. As sea levels rise, these islands typically move toward the mainland, frustrating efforts to hold properties in place.

There is so much that is wrong in just those three sentences. For starters, it describes a barrier island as if it is the crown of an otherwise submerged mountain or coral atoll, and thus vulnerable to being completely submerged as the seas rise up around it. But barrier islands are nothing of the sort. They are impermanent deposits of sand, which reshape, move, merge, appear, and disappear due to tides, winds, and storms.

The movement of barrier islands is not due to rising sea levels, it is due to a naturally occurring force called “longshore drift.” Where there are man-made efforts to stabilize barrier islands with jetties and sea walls, this produces other impacts on currents that cause erosion in some waterfront areas and new sand deposits in others. Beach houses in the Outer Banks are not being lost due to rising sea levels, they are being lost due to shifting sands.

This short video shows how longshore drift moves a barrier island. Winds blow the tide in at an angle against the island, not perpendicularly, but the backflow of seawater will follow gravity, which is effectively perpendicular to the island. This has the effect of slowly moving the barrier island in the direction that the wind is “pushing” it.

From NOAA’s website, “Longshore drift may also create or destroy entire barrier islands along a shoreline. A barrier island is a long offshore deposit of sand situated parallel to the coast. As longshore drifts deposit, remove, and redeposit sand, barrier islands constantly change.”

Tucker’s Island, just north of Atlantic City, New Jersey, is an example of a once populated barrier island that completely disappeared. It did not get submerged by rising tides, rather, the island’s sands were shifted by longshore drift until the island no longer existed. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story about Tucker’s Island in 2015 titled The Mystique of New Jersey’s Atlantis.

The small, picturesque island off the southern end of Long Beach Island was once a popular seaside resort. It had a lighthouse, life saving station, two rustic hotels, 20 summer cottages, and a community meetinghouse that served as a church and school. Vacationers from Philadelphia and southern New Jersey relaxed there as long ago as the late 1860s, enjoying its peaceful solitude, cool breezes, fishing, hunting, sailing, swimming and clam bakes. But Tucker’s Island’s days were numbered. Year by year, ocean tides and storms eroded it. The hotels closed in 1910 and later collapsed and were washed away. The lighthouse fell in 1927.

This NOAA link shows a series of historical maps of the New Jersey shore dating back to 1856, showing the constantly changing shape, size, and location of Tucker’s Island, until it eventually disappeared, to ultimately be replaced by growth on the southern tip of Long Beach Island.

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Near Corpus Christi, Texas, the Lydia Ann Lighthouse on the intracoastal waterway is a popular destination for fishing, birding, and kayaking. Its location as a navigational aid makes little sense when looking at current maps, but current maps do not reflect the islands and channels as they existed in 1857 when the lighthouse (then knows as the Aransas Pass Light Station) went into service.

The purpose of the lighthouse was to guide ships from the Gulf of Mexico into the Aransas Pass, which lay between San Jose Island to the north, and Mustang Island to the south. At the time, the lighthouse aligned with the channel, but over the years, longshore drift pushed the pass well to the south. The Aransas Pass between the two islands is now about one mile south of where it was when the lighthouse was erected, as both San Jose Island and Mustang Island shifted south.

Like so much else related to the phony “climate crisis,” stories of rising seas eating away at barrier islands are dishonest misrepresentations of naturally occurring events.

Buck Throckmorton is a writer ("co-blogger") at the Ace of Spades HQ blog. His career includes many years in banking and commercial lending, as well as a stint with an American auto manufacturer. Buck's writing often takes a critical look at electric vehicles, "green" energy, and woke capital. Twitter: @BuckThrockmort; email: buck.throckmorton@protonmail.com


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One comment on “Whatever Happened to 'Rising Sea Levels'?”

  1. What's entirely ignored here is the very real possibility these barrier islands tipped over and capsized as the esteemed senator Hank Johnson, Democrat, informed us might happen. "Science", ladies and gentlemen.

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