Wall Street Journal: Relax, Climate Change is No Big Deal

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, dedicated as always to telling its readers what they want to hear, tells them today that climate change is no big deal. Here is longtime climate denier Fred Singer on sea level rise:

By studying a very short time interval, it is possible to sidestep most of the complications, like “isostatic adjustment” of the shoreline (as continents rise after the overlying ice has melted) and “subsidence” of the shoreline (as ground water and minerals are extracted).

I chose to assess the sea-level trend from 1915-45, when a genuine, independently confirmed warming of approximately 0.5 degree Celsius occurred. I note particularly that sea-level rise is not affected by the warming; it continues at the same rate, 1.8 millimeters a year, according to a 1990 review by Andrew S. Trupin and John Wahr. I therefore conclude—contrary to the general wisdom—that the temperature of sea water has no direct effect on sea-level rise. That means neither does the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide.

This conclusion is worth highlighting: It shows that sea-level rise does not depend on the use of fossil fuels. The evidence should allay fear that the release of additional CO2 will increase sea-level rise.

Big words? Check. Cherry-picked timeframe? Check. Climate change is bunk? Check. No long-term chart just for laughs? Check.

I’m no scientist, but I can copy numbers into Excel and then present them to the world. This task was probably too time consuming for the Journal—they’re busy people, after all—so I’m happy to lend a hand in my own poor way. Here it is:

As you can see, global temperature increases in fits and spurts, but has nonetheless been rising steadily. Sea level rise follows at the same rate, but its growth is steadier since the oceans are vast heat sinks that tend to react slowly to a single year’s change in average temperature. The period from 1915-1945 is nothing special.

Most of us in the lefty pundit biz have long since taken a pledge not to waste time responding to the Journal’s op-ed page. Virtually every piece is a deliberate attempt to misstate the truth in some way, and once you go down the rabbit hole you could dedicate your entire life to nothing else. And make no mistake: despite all the earnest calls from conservatives for more ideological diversity in the nation’s op-ed pages, the Journal has no intention of hiring any liberal columnists to provide their readers with an alternate worldview. If they ever call to offer me a weekly slot, I’ll let you know.

Still, every once in a while I see something so dumb that I weaken and feel like I have to respond. Today was one of those days.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.