I have had my stance on the rising of the ocean level challenged recently. My stance is relatively simple: yes, yes it is. However, this is not an altogether popular stance. Not because the ocean level is not rising, but rather for the general reason of it being inconvenient. This is a common problem people have with many of the current trends in our economy, climate, and energy sources. Call it media-induced ignorance; call it political maneuvering; call it mass denial; call it sticking your fingers in your ears and humming loudly. But whatever you call it, ultimately it boils down to a simple fact. While people are in fact grasping the realty of our situation, they simply deny the problem’s severity, immediacy, or existence. Its not that they do not understand how bad we are saying it is. They just do not see what they can do about it, and so find it easier to ignore it. That is one of the things this site is for: showing people what we can do. Another thing we can do is help provide the data scientists have been using for years to draw their, generally ignored, conclusions.
To start with, this is a graph of the change in average ocean level from 1992 to 2005. The scientists taking the measurements arbitrarily assigned a “zero” point in 1996. Basically, this means the scientists picked an ocean level and decided that it was typical. This does not really mean anything, just that all ocean levels are now being compared to this point. As odd as this may sound it is not an unusual practice. An easy example is Fahrenheit temperature. Zero degrees Fahrenheit does not actually mean anything. It is an arbitrary zero point someone picked centuries ago, but it has no meaning. But any temperature can now be measured compared to that zero point. Or you could pick another zero point, say the freezing point of water, and call it something really weird like Celsius. But then no one would know what you were talking about.
– Benjamin Shender