December 2, 2010

Teaching moment II

By Teaching moment II

Author: Reed Hopper

The USGS issued a press release yesterday with this heading: Many Coastal Wetlands Likely to Disappear this Century. The press release touts a new study on sea level predictions, but leave it to the government to emphasize the negative rather than the positive. The import of the new study is not that loss of coastal wetlands is more likely than was thought, but less likely:

"Previous assessments of coastal wetland responses to sea-level rise have been constrained because they did not consider the ability of wetlands to naturally modify their physical environment for adaptation," said USGS scientist Matt Kirwan, an author of this report. "Failure to incorporate the interactions of inundation, vegetation and sedimentation in wetlands limits the usefulness of past assessments."

And, although the USGS asserts that many coastal wetlands are likely to disappear this century, the new study apparently did not assess the likelihood of this event. Rather the study relied on sea level predictions put forward by the controversial Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which has been taken to task for exaggerating glacier ice melts.

Long-term predictions of climate change impacts generally, and IPCC claims in particular, have been notoriously inaccurate. We have to wonder then how the USGS can state with such certitude that coastal wetland disappearance is likely.

As I stated in my previous post: Question your assumptions!

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