Alabama representative for the 5th district Mo Brooks sits on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and spent his time harassing climate scientists at a hearing. He blamed sea level rise on rocks falling into the sea from coastal erosion.
Sea levels are rising in part because surface ice is melting owing to of high temperatures produced by heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, which modern industrial society has been spewing into the atmosphere at high levels since about 1750 by burning coal, petroleum, natural gas and other hydrocarbons. Increased global average surface temperatures caused glaciers to begin melting, and also caused the seas to expand (warm water takes up more space than cold water). In recent decades there is strong evidence for ice sheets melting, contributing to the rise. In fact, human burning of coal, oil and gas is causing the sea level to rise at an accelerated pace.
Scientists estimate a rise of 3-5 feet by 2100 at current rates of carbon dioxide emissions from driving cars, running factories, heating and cooling homes, etc. Parts per million of carbon dioxide in the air, which we can measure from ice cores, marine shells & etc., have soared from roughly 270 ppm to over 400 ppm since the Industrial Revolution. There isn’t, contrary to what Rep. Brooks suggests, any difficulty at all about obtaining this measurement, nor about the relationship between sea level and carbon dioxide concentrations in the geological record. I am a historian and teach a course on history and climate change; historians use all sorts of material to reconstruct the past.
If you want to see an atmosphere heavy in carbon dioxide and therefore really, really hot, take a gander at our neighbor Venus.
Brooks said, “Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up.”
Apparently Rep. Brooks believes that silt from the Nile River in Egypt is part of the problem. He doesn’t know that the Nile was dammed up in 1958 by Gamal Abdel Nasser. A scientific study found that “since 1964 almost no sediment has been discharged from the Nile.”
Besides, he has the causation backwards. Sea level rise is causing erosion.
In fact, Mobile*, which he wanted to represent as a senator, is, like other Gulf cities, at risk from the coal Rep. Brooks wants us to burn more of.
Brooks, who takes thousands of dollars in campaign money from Big Coal, accused scientists of defrauding the public about man-made climate change in search of research dollars.
Brooks once told Laura Ingraham, “This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It’s part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well that’s not true.”
If Brooks thinks white people in Alabama are being held back by racial discrimination, that might help explain why he can believe that coastal rocks falling into the ocean are raising its level.
The problem here is plutocracy.
The fact is that slick lawyers who have their hand out to Big Coal and Big Oil are coming up with these ridiculous statements not because they are stupid or even ill-informed but because they are professional liars who profit from the lies. That is why, when challenged, they immediately suggest that scientists are the same way. It is called mirror thinking.
*Correcting an earlier error.