sea levels to blame?

Wolfvillian Brian Sanderson wrote a letter to the CH editor a few days ago (CH Sat. Aug 23 Voice of the People) in answer to the article in which Elizabeth May goes on about failing dykeworks near Amherst which she believed is connected to rising sea levels brought about by global warming. How many people read this letter compared to the previous articles and then the subsequent reports on CBC radio where this connection and belief was repeated as a fact? Just to give this letter a bit more distribution we are copying it here (emph added is ours).

False premise

Elizabeth May (Aug. 19) seems to have fallen for the false premise that rising sea level brought about by global warming caused dike works to fail.

Church and White (2004) published credible estimates of global sea level rise in Geophysical Research Letters. Sea level has risen less than eight inches in the last 134 years and is projected to rise about a foot in the next 100 years. Such changes in sea level are minuscule in the context of tides in the Bay of Fundy and might be offset were we to exploit tides as a source of energy.

The failure of the recent dike works had nothing to do with global warming and everything to do with poor engineering. Remarkably, Elizabeth May goes on to suggest that Minister John Baird appears to be engaged in fear-mongering. Surely this is the pot calling the kettle black!

Humans affect the planet in many ways. Arguably, we have raised average global temperatures by less than one degree C (so far). Certainly we have caused a dramatic decline in wild fish stocks. Definitely, many of the natural ecosystems that used to exist on arable land have been replaced with farms (or desert). There are many, many in-your-face ways in which humans have changed planet Earth – and they are most obviously related to growth of the human population. Now that’s something that really is worth writing about. Go on, Liz, I dare you!

Brian Sanderson,

PhD, physical oceanography,


We don’t need to add anything to that except the obvious. Who knows how to build dykes properly anymore. Not the guys who did that work that’s for sure. The proof is the old aboiteau held.

“The federal government pulled out years ago and left it to the province. I checked with the federal Agriculture Department and they tell me they no longer have anyone on staff with the expertise to maintain the dikes and . . . I think the failure of this aboiteau shows the province has lost its expertise as well,” Mr. Bacon said.

“We need to get (that expertise) back, at both the federal and provincial level …


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