Flashback 1988: Michael Oppenheimer Warn Seas to Surge 83 Feet Inland by 2020

Just another example of how you can make any ridiculous prediction of doom, providing it’s far enough in the future that everyone will have forgotten about it amidst the kerfuffle of the latest, updated predictions. Here’s a 1988 news report on the findings of the UN’s World Meteorological Organization, the forerunner to the IPCC:

WASHINGTON – A group of scientists is offering a sober weather forecast for the year 2020: the planet’s average temperature hitting a 10,000 year high, and the world’s oceans surging an average of 83 feet inland.

The Hour, June 13th 1988. 


Actually, the prediction that the sea would soon be swallowing up a massive 83 feet of shoreline around the world came not from the WMO, but was an extrapolation of its findings by that sober and well-respected scientist and environmental campaigner, Michael Oppenheimer. “Things are going to change too fast” Oppenheimer is reported to have said, in a comment typical of the cautious, non-hysterical manner he is widely famed for.

Michael Oppenheimer is currently a lead author with the IPCC. It is not known whether he still expects the world to lose 83 feet of coast within the next nine years or not.


7 responses to “Flashback 1988: Michael Oppenheimer Warn Seas to Surge 83 Feet Inland by 2020

  1. Pingback: Earth To Hit 10,000 Year Temperature Peak Within Nine Years | Real Science

  2. Pingback: The Climate Change debate - Page 426 - PPRuNe Forums

  3. I’m guessing that the report mentioned in the article is WCRP-18, “Report of the Third Session of the Working Group on Sea Ice and Climate.” WMO lists it as out of print. Does anyone have a copy of it, or perhaps can correct the reference?

    I’m especially curious because the article mentions an alternative scenario, for which the prediction is a 2-foot sea level increase and 6 degree (F) global temperature increase. [As opposed to 10 inches and 2 degrees resp. for the “83-feet-inland” scenario.] I wonder which scenario better matches the emissions we’ve actually experienced.

    For comparison, the University of Colorado ( http://sealevel.colorado.edu/ ) indicates a sea level rise of approx. 2 inches since 1993. This is over a period of 18 years; a naive extrapolation to Oppenheimer’s 32-year prediction period (1988..2020) yields about 3.6 inches.

  4. Well, according to that highly accurate prognosticator James Hansen, it’s “non linear”. Which seems to mean, “after I’m long dead you’ll see that I was so full of it my eyes were brown”.

  5. Harold, speaking of sea level rise, was interesting to learn that Jason 1&2 satellites do not cover all the sea (only up to 70°), envisat covers almost all and saw less rise – see the link at Steven’s site:
    furthermore there was a very interesting discussion at Suyts place:
    who asks the question why it looks like the sea is bulging in some places?

    • My eyes are bulging at some of the garbage predictions (sorry – projections) I read daily. That 83 feet figure must have required an AWFUL lot of research to produce. Look at all those “crinkly bits” on the map. Slartibartfast (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) would have been overjoyed to have been given the job.

  6. Pingback: Oppenheimer – False prophet or multi-layered alarmist? « Manicbeancounter’s Weblog

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