Global Warming Two Millimeters at a Time

Click the chart above for a larger view

20170427 Update. The rate has now fallen to 1.94 mm/yr. Note that the rate has changed little since 1850, despite the carbon dioxide increases caused by the Industrial Revolution.

There is nothing like good old-fashioned data for cooling some of the current hysteria associated with global warming. The chart above shows the variations in annual mean sea level obtained from the tidal gauge at San Francisco, the oldest record in the Western Hemisphere. In earth science we associate rises in sea level with increases in global temperature and the melting of glaciers. For example, at the height of the last glaciation 22,000 years ago, the ocean was 120 meters (390 feet) lower than at present. It has been mostly rising ever since. After the “Little Ice Age” ended in the 19th Century, sea level rise at SF (and NY) continued at the measured pace of 2 mm/yr—about 8 inches per century, certainly not the tens of feet predicted by alarmists. The human-caused release of greenhouse gases, however, has been exponential over that period. One wonders why the rise in sea level isn’t better correlated with the rise in CO2. The chart represents real data, not a model predicting certain doom and gloom. The leaders of our Industrial Revolution have made a mess of the environment while lining their own pockets. There are an infinite number of reasons to have them clean it up, but the increase in CO2 doesn’t appear to be one of them.


NOAA, 2004, Recording the tides in San Francisco Bay, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [This is a great little download explaining how these data were gathered. Note that the really big spikes in the data are from El Nino events when warm (expanded) ocean water arrives at SF from the tropics.] (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/topics/navops/ports/san_francisco_tide_gauge.pdf), 50 p.

Update 20121212:
From Figure 2 of Bromirski, P.D., Miller, A.J., and Flick, R.E., 2012, Understanding North Pacific sea level trends: EOS, v. 93, no. 27, p. 249-250.

Update 20130805:

Just found this figure at:


It nicely shows the dependence of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration on temperature at the south pole. This is mostly an effect based on the fact that warm ocean water emits carbon dioxide, while cold water absorbs it. Of course, the cause (temperature increase) precedes the effect (carbon dioxide increase), sometimes by over a thousand years. Note the huge increase in carbon dioxide due to the Industrial Revolution unaccompanied by a correspondingly huge increase in temperature.

Update 20140527:

An excellent 1.5 hour talk by Dr. Easterbrook showing the data pertinent to climate change:


Nice figure from: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/07/16/latest-noaa-mean-sea-level-trend-data-through-2013-confirms-lack-of-sea-level-rise-acceleration-2/


Anonymous said...


Guess you filed your conclusions on pseudo scientific data of just 2
yrs data.


I prefer a two decade survey from 1990

Hurray for the new powers of a revitalized EPA!

Aside from data on what's happening to the atmosphere, it's known that captalism/industrialism/population are depleting, poisioning and
destroying the earth's seas and the land, not to mention it's species.
So why wouldn't it also be happening with the heavens?

There is no way one can fly over the inflamed atmospheres of
the major cities of India and China and not conclude we are doing
something dastardly to the atmosphere.

Glenn Borchardt said...

The planet indeed is being damaged (not destroyed) by greedy capitalists. Global cooling started in Jan of 2007, so any decadal average will show warming. I seriously doubt the wisdom of using the Global Warming Scam as the reason to clean up the planet. We should make them clean up the planet regardless of what the climate is doing. Global climate goes through natural cycles with increased CO2 being an effect, not a cause of the warming of ocean water. If the global cooling of the last few years continues, even without a decrease in industrial CO2, does that mean that we no longer need to agitate for a better environment?

rickdoogie said...

There is an elephant in the room. You want to blame "greedy capitalists" and Anon wants to blame "capitalism/industrialism/population" for damaging the environment. Wow. Not one tiny parcel of blame can go to government?
Aren't the biggest pollution problems caused by government contractors (especially military) who are exempt from prosecution for environmental crimes? The couple biggest pollution sites by my house are former government contractors (now closed down and long gone).
Even if government contractors aren't the biggest polluters, don't you think they deserve mention? Do you think you might have a blind spot worth examining? You're so excellent at examining the blind spots of status-quo science; why is government so untouchable?
What about all the pollution being caused by war activities, production of explosives and military hardware, depleted uranium shells, and "cluster munitions" that still litter other countries like Cambodia and Laos from the US military in the 60's?? Why is all that absent from your radar?
Please compare the environmental damage done by "capitalism" to the environmental damage done by government shenanigans.
Again; even if capitalism is worse than government, it's a specious and immoral error to omit any mention of the state's blame. I could be wrong, but I suspect that you think the state is going to be the thing that can prevent the evil capitalists from further damaging the environment. How's that working out so far?
Don't you think that it would be more intellectually honest to place the blame on "mercantilist government" instead of that old bugaboo "evil capitalists"?

Glenn Borchardt said...


Thanks for the comment. Note that I mentioned “greedy” capitalists, not capitalists in general. There are plenty of capitalists who are not greedy and not especially responsible for degradation of the macrocosm—Ben & Jerry come to mind. On the other hand, no capitalist can survive without close attention to the bottom line. As profit margins become tight, one sometimes may be faced with a tough decision: ignore the environment or go out of business. So the individual capitalist cannot be a reliable source of environmental protection. The capitalist gets the cash and we get the trash. Collectively we cannot ignore the environment, that is why we band together to demand that those upstream folks not dump stuff into our water supply. None of this “socialism” would be necessary if there was only one of us living on the stream—increasing population does matter.

In a democracy, we get the governmental “elephant” that we deserve. In theory, if at any one time 51% of us want to ignore the environment, so be it. Eventually, however, we become better educated or the situation becomes so intolerable that we will vote differently, forcing our governmental representatives to do something. Thus, the smog in LA has become less oppressive in recent decades because of inevitable governmental action, not because of individual action. That is the optimistic side of the coin that I favor. I don’t see global pollution problems any differently. I do object, however, to the use of phony “scientific” arguments in furthering necessary political goals.

I agree that our governments, like the capitalists that largely control them, have been messy landlords. The pollution you mentioned is pervasive. Also pervasive are the efforts to clean it up. New laws have forced governments to spend billions of tax payer dollars, when it would have been cheaper to have prevented the pollution in the first place. On the other hand, our knowledge concerning the effects of polluting chemicals on the macrocosm was primitive when much of that stuff was done. And, as you have seen firsthand, the use of private contractors to do the government’s dirty work is not especially reassuring. To them, every non-budgeted dollar spent on environmental protection is a dollar of lost profit. Perhaps it would be better to hire those more directly responsible to the voters. The sins of the military-industrial-governmental complex are intertwined, whether capitalist or socialist. It is true that we have been lax in the collective management of government worldwide, but it is not true that we have ignored it altogether. Otherwise, we would have died in the dark long ago.

J. W. Gray said...

If this is a scam, it is a huge conspiracy. From what I understand, the data is not necessarily a disaster scenario (alarmist-worthy), but the data does show that we have some influence over the temperature of the planet. Do you agree that we contribute to global warming at all?

Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks for the comment. I suppose that the words “scam” and “conspiracy” may not be exactly appropriate. After all, those words could be applied to all sorts of ideas (religion and the BBT come to mind) that are well-accepted by millions. Most of the folks who “believe in anthropogenic global warming” cannot cite any scientific details. They just believe what they have been told. When scientists find it necessary to encourage “belief” in their findings, one can get a little suspicious about the validity of those findings. In the evolution of communities, “belief” is used to instill and enforce the loyalty necessary for survival. For a proper analysis, one would have to do as deep throat said “follow the money,” as that is how the world operates. Do you really trust those who have made millions off the deal to tell you the truth? Do you really think that this particular paradigm doesn’t purge itself of objectors?

Click on the tidal data figure again and then tell me where you can see human involvement in the 2 mm/yr rise in sea level. I realize that this is only a small part of the data one could use in analyzing the situation, but it is where I would begin. I am having trouble believing first of all, that CO2 is a cause and not an effect and, second of all, that an increase from 0.03% to even 0.06% would make any difference other than to sponsor increased plant growth. The primary factor controlling global temperature is the average distance between the earth and the sun.

J. W. Gray said...

From my understanding scientists have taken every possible source of global warming and shown that all the sources other than humans would be insufficient to cause the temperatures we are seeing. In other words many things cause temperatures to go up. They think human beings have some influence because nothing else seems to be the cause. The amount of influence we have could lead to problems eventually, but not for some time. The hysteria and alarmism isn't the fault of all the scientists doing the research, which I think is your main concern.

This is a debate that I think cleared up some of the confusion: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=B005C36F59F2E1DF

Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks. I glanced at the big IPCC report, but didn't see anything as clear as the SF tidal data. Maybe the YouTube link will be better. Global warming has been going on since 22,000 years ago at an average sea level rise rate of 5.5 mm/yr. We know that the cooling and warming of glacial cycles are associated with the eccentricity of orbit, axial tilt, and precession of the earth. However, we don’t know the real, physical “cause” of the cycles and certainly wouldn’t attribute it to humans. The increase in temperature of the last century has been less than 1 degree Centigrade--not a lot to get all political about.

The more interesting question is why that should cause humans to get so worked up. I suspect that one reason is that we are finally realizing the importance of the environment a la univironmental determinism. If you ever lived in a polluted city, you sure would be faced with it. Since the 1989 Inflection Point, we have become increasing constrained by the macrocosm. The easy resources are getting harder to come by and the ever increasing rate of global population increase has started to decrease as a result. These pressures will cause folks to seek any scapegoat possible. We will be seeing more and more of such global calamities, whether real or contrived. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not we “saved the planet” through bogus means or not—just a little pricey for most of us.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Here is a detailed analysis of the CO2 scam put on by Gore:


It confirms the sea level analysis I came up with independently (i.e., about 2 mm/yr since the 18th century, with no anthro effect due to heavy fossil fuel use, which they point out as beginning in the 1940s).

J. W. Gray said...

I heard that there were inaccurate things about Gore's movie shortly after it was made. It exaggerated the facts and the influence of human influence. The fact that scientists aren't depending on Gore's movie in order to support their data should go without saying.

karenand john said...

First off, I want to say that I enjoyed your book "The Scientific Worldview" but my heart sinks when I read on your blog that you are a global warming denier. How can a materialist maintain that the addition of a material to the atmosphere that has been proven to warm the atmosphere does not? Leaving aside that climate science is complex, this seems like idealism in stark contrast to observed reality.
This blog post claims that global COOLING began in January 2007 (how precise!), but all the factual evidence shows a climate WARMING even faster than the so called "alarmists" predicted. Of course that is assuming you agree that artic ice melting is a sign of warming. One would hope you would produce some data to support your claim or have the integrity to admit your mistake.
You acknowledge the negative role that "greedy capitalists" play in destroying the planet, but then seem to argue that climate scientists are more powerful than oil billionaires, carbon barons, politicians dripping in oil (remember the George W. Bush administration?), and their corporate media minions. Really?
I like the name Progressive Science Institute, and you seem to promote progressive ideas some of the time. But on this issue you are in bed with right wing ideologues such as Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes and the team at Fox News, the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party, and Christian fundamentalists. One might think that solely on the evidence of who shares your views, you might reconsider them.
I am writing to you and not to any of the clowns listed above because I have had and still maintain high hopes for you. I have nothing to gain financially from the so-called "global warming hoax" and we all have so much to lose from denying the climate reality. We need people like you on OUR side. I hope you will respond.
John Schraufnagel
Minneapolis, MN

Glenn Borchardt said...


Glad you enjoyed TSW. Sorry to disappoint you with respect to global warming. I realize that the issue is highly political, but must reiterate that science must remain as neutral as possible on such issues. Climate, of course, is constantly changing—it has been warming for the last 22,000 years, with a few sub-cycles that were cooler and some that were warmer (see our "Universal Cycle Theory"). In the earth sciences, we mostly use sea level as an indicator of warming and cooling trends. That is what I am most familiar with. As I mentioned in the Blog, those data do no support the hypothesis that current climate changes are due to human activities. In fact, more recent tidal data led Bromirski and others (2012) to the conclusion that the previous rate of 2 mm/yr measured between 1900 and 1980, has diminished to zero.

What I was looking for in these data, was an exponential increase in sea level after 1940 when carbon dioxide emissions began to increase exponentially (cough, cough). Nada! Can you see why I am skeptical about anthro-warming claims? Of course, there may be a decadal time lag involved and we must grant that climate change is as infinitely complicated as it is inevitable. It just isn’t in these data, with which I am most familiar. You seem pretty convinced. I would love to see the data on which you have based your conclusion.


Bromirski, P.D., Miller, A.J., and Flick, R.E., 2012, Understanding North Pacific sea level trends: EOS, v. 93, no. 27, p. 249-250.

Glenn Borchardt said...


Note that I was able to add the new Bromirski figure to the original post.

karenand john said...

Thanks for responding, however you did not address my main question. So I will plead again. This is a "scientific" blog, and you say that global cooling began in Jan, 2007. Where is your data to support this? Please, please show me the data to support your claim. Surely you cannot believe that the article you site proves your point. I read it and I don't even believe it says what you claim it says. It clearly states that global mean sea levels are rising because of added water from ice melt and thermal expansion (both of which are attributed to global warming, BY THE ARTICLE you site). The authors then say that regional sea level trends fluctuate around this global level widely BECAUSE these regional numbers are impacted by a wider variety of factors (local and remote wind patterns, etc). So, local sea level data, even if it doesn't show the rise you expect, doesn't prove the cooling you assert, as local data tells you very little about a global phenomenon.
I can understand why you want to use tidal data for a single region to make your argument, as this is the only lens through which what you claim seems plausible. Stepping back, satellite measurements show that sea levels have risen at 3.2 mm/year for the last 20 years compared to a prediction of 2 mm (and this figure is in fact in the Bromirski article you site, although I am siting a study led by Stefan Rahmstorf, released on November 28th of this year). The article in Environmental Research Letters explains: "Satellites measure sea-level rise by bouncing radar waves back off the sea surface and are much more accurate than tide gauges as they have near-global coverage; tide gauges only sample along the coast. Tide gauges also include variability that has nothing to do with changes in global sea level, but rather with how the water moves around in the oceans, such as under the influence of wind.

The study also shows that it is very unlikely that the increased rate is down to internal variability in our climate system and also shows that non-climatic components of sea-level rise, such as water storage in reservoirs and groundwater extraction, do not have an effect on the comparisons made.

Lead author of the study, Stefan Rahmstorf, said: “This study shows once again that the IPCC is far from alarmist, but in fact has under-estimated the problem of climate change. That applies not just for sea-level rise, but also to extreme events and the Arctic sea-ice loss.”"

This is not all. The rising tides you do not see from your ivory tower in Berkeley, are swallowing entire Pacific Islands whole. Tell the people of Tuvalu that the seas are not rising. That is if you can track them down, as they are added to the growing list of climate refugees displaced as warmer oceans expand over their former homes. Are these people a hoax? Are they overly alarmist? Do you simply not care?

You say science should be neutral but you again take the side of oil billionaires over poor island people who have not caused and do not benefit from anthropogenic climate change.

You want to control the terms of the debate by determining that the ocean can only rise exponentially and no other way. This is nonsense. Again, I return to my initial request that you prove your assertion that the earth has been cooling since 2007. I believe I have data to support my claims. Where is your data? Please, is the earth cooling, yes or no?

I am enjoying this exchange and looking forward to your response. Will be happy to share my references upon request. Thank you,
John Schraufnagel
another Wisconsin boy

Glenn Borchardt said...


Thanks for your comments and for reading the Bromirski article in detail. As you mentioned, their work contains an awful lot of “yes, but” stuff that shows how complicated the infinite universe actually is. Amid the myriad complications and bows to the conventional wisdom remains their figure 2, which shows no steady change at SF since 1980. I guess our speculation that global cooling began in 2007 may be a little off, although the data fluctuations from tidal gauges are too great to say one way or the other. You would have to read “Universal Cycle Theory” to get an idea of where Steve and I are coming from on that one.

I liked that you pointed out that satellite data show that global sea level changes have been only about 3 mm/yr for 20 years, without any measured exponential change due to the supposed influence of humans dumping carbon at an exponential rate. Although sad but true, it is this 2 or 3 mm/yr rise that is causing the island inundation you cite. In 2 or 3 thousand years, glacial melt will cause sea level to be 6 m higher than at present (like it was during the Sangamon interglacial 122,000 years ago). The engineers from Holland will have work for a long time.

Actually, John, I am shocked to see all this hysteria about inevitable climate change and the nearly total ignorance of the globe’s main problem. It is not something speculative, but real: one billion of our seven billion people don’t have enough food too eat. The problem is here and now and has little to do with climate or food production. It has to do with distribution. A rich man rarely starves to death. Starvation may be no less intractable than excess carbon dioxide production, but it is a much more worthy cause for progressives to unite against (see www.foodfirst.org ).

BTW: I am still waiting for someone to send me a figure that conclusively proves that current global climate change is anthropogenic.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Some data that explains why sea levels at the Golden Gate have not risen exponentially since the increase in carbon emission that accelerated in 1945:


Glenn Borchardt said...

Just found a neat temperature vs. carbon dioxide figure at:


It nicely shows the dependence of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration on temperature at the south pole. This is mostly an effect based on the fact that warm ocean water emits carbon dioxide, while cold water absorbs it. Note the huge increase in carbon dioxide due to the Industrial Revolution unaccompanied by a correspondingly huge increase in temperature.

The figure also is on my blog above.

Glenn Borchardt said...

​Short version describing my cause/effect analysis:


​Long version (he mentions animals and plants, but misses the CO2 released by warming seawater):​


Glenn Borchardt said...

Excellent 1/2 hour talk.


Glenn Borchardt said...

Update 20140527:

An excellent 1.5 hour talk by Dr. Easterbrook showing the data pertinent to climate change:


Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks to Steve Puetz for this heads up:


Luis C said...

Hi Glenn,

I too have been reading "Universal Cycle Theory", and I'm also rather dismayed that you subscribe to denial of anthropogenic climate change.

I've been sitting here trying to figure out why you're a climate change denier. I think I've got it. You relish being a heretic, and you feel that climate science is insufficiently "neomechanical" by paying too much heed to human activity and too little to the macrocosm.

Whatever the reason, the convergence of evidence goes against your denial:

"Global cooling - Is global warming still happening?"

"How much is sea level rising?

"CO2 is coming from the ocean"

"Comparing CO2 emissions to CO2 levels"
- also has information about carbon isotopes released by human industry and why this lines up with the prediction of anthropogenic global warming.

Global warming is of course only one "ecological rift" - to use John Bellamy-Foster's term - that capitalism is producing. But it is a particularly dangerous one given that it can exacerbate other imbalances in the planet's ecology. These processes interrelate and feed into one another. We ignore this at our peril.

Yes, there are material interests behind climate change advocacy. But that's exactly the situation with climate change denial. When taking into account the costs of pollution and health-related problems (which the oil and coal lobbies pay top dollar to their servants in the government to ignore), renewable energy is in fact far less costly than maintaining the current carbon-intensive infrastructure. Naturally, capitalist interests will coalesce around any new technology that might show promise in a new market. That proves nothing about global warming being a "scam". It just means that some capitalists have interests that are located around entrenching and perpetuating carbon-intensive technologies, while others have some inkling for what's ahead and want to make a buck on new technologies.

Also, you blame "greedy capitalists" for environmental damage. Why does it matter if they're "greedy"? I would have thought that the capitalist mode of production itself and its concomitant necessity for ever higher throughput and extraction of matter from the Earth was the problem. Focusing upon the individual motivations of particular economic actors as the locus of the problem, rather than the basic structural factors that propel capitalist production and that engenders greed in the first place, just lets these structural factors off the hook. It implies that if only the capitalists "weren't greedy", then we wouldn't have these problems. I trust that you don't believe that.


Glenn Borchardt said...


I think that the best, most informed, and least emotional analysis of the situation was by Easterbrook:


Luis said...

I still need to check out this link, but for me, human-caused global warming/anthropogenic climate change is a no-brainer:

- it's long been known that carbon is indeed a greenhouse gas; this is basic physics that has been known for many decades
- humans have been pumping increasing amounts of it into the atmosphere, and we can demonstrate that the increase in carbon has been the result of human activities though emissions accounting and isotope analysis, which clearly show that it's recently released carbon
- the past decade has seen a string of hottest years on record, with more extreme heat waves (and concomitantly, more extreme precipitation in other parts of the world), more extreme weather, and more drought (notably, the parts of the world that will be mot hard hit by droughts are those that already suffer from food insecurity. When we make statements about the "scam" of AGW, we need to be sure that these aren't actually disguised social-chauvinist proclamations issued from air-conditioned offices in the First World)
- oil companies themselves have acknowledged the reality of AGW in internal memos, while engaging in concerted campaigns of misinformation and propaganda aimed at sowing doubt about this reality in the public mind so as to influence political decisions

Of course, it's always possible to come up with all kinds of qualifications that take into account mitigating factors and countervailing tendencies, in this case those having to do with natural cycles, buffers and carbon traps, and to use these to try to deny the reality of a phenomenon, but that this can be done in no way negates that there are essential phenomena out there in nature that have a clear trend in one direction.

Not insignificantly, there is also a strong tendency for naysayers, both within and outside the larger mainstream of science, to have social-conservative and market-libertarian leanings, and denying AGW fits comfortably within the tropes of their ideological and social narratives. This always raises alarm bells for me. Governments themselves, in efforts to avoid doing anything truly substantive about the problem, often censor and sideline their own scientific advisors. This pattern has become notorious. One would think that if there were devastating arguments against AGW, these arguments would actually be used by the politicians who are overtly against doing anything substantive, rather than their constant trotting out of sophomoric statements like "We had record snow in my home town. So much for global warming."

Bligh said...

Luis, please open the attachment and view Easterbrook and Salby.
Having done that you would be in a better position to speak on this issue.
Your comments below verge on the level of mythology.
It is impossible for atmospheric co2 to do more than 1 or 2 percent of GW.
You can see for yourself a presentation of Climate Facts by Dr Don Easterbrook at a hearing in WA State.>>
You can see for yourself a “smoking gun” presentation on why co2 from fossil fuels is NOT the cause of global warming. The Salby Hamburg Carbon 13 presentation. >>
You should see for yourself the thirty thousand scientists who have spoken out about the misconceptions and outright fraudulent details from proponents of AGW.>>
George D Conger

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