The Washington Times' front-page story "Rising sea levels in Pacific
create wave of migrants" (Page 1, Sunday) outrageously peddles a
talking point circulated by activists such as former Vice President Al
Gore. The article's claim that human-induced climate change and
sea-level rise spawned a migration of refugees from South Pacific
island nations was found unsupportable by the only court to examine its
merits (Dimmock v. Secretary of State (UK) for Education and Skills, UK
High Court, Oct. 10, 2007).
This claim is a rehash of assertions made in Mr. Gore's movie,
"An Inconvenient Truth." In its Dimmock ruling, the High Court stated:
"In scene 20, Mr. Gore states 'that's why the citizens of these Pacific
nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand.' There is no evidence
of any such evacuation having yet happened." Even the defendant UK
government admitted, "It is not clear that there is any evidence of
evacuations in the Pacific due to human-induced climate change."
Refugees seeking generous New Zealand and Canadian welfare regimes do
exist, but they are not driven by sea-level rise.
This ruling came in late 2007. The rate of sea-level rise -
which began after a period known as the Little Ice Age - proceeded
steadily from about 1850 until then, without accelerating. Since then,
satellite data have affirmed that the rate peaked in 2005 and that
levels even have dipped slightly. Sea levels around the Maldives have
dropped appreciably in recent decades. Nowhere did The Times
acknowledge doubt, let alone these facts.
In short, this reportage perpetuated unsupportable claims made,
as the UK High Court put it, "in the context of alarmism and
exaggeration in support of [Mr. Gore's] political thesis." A retraction
CHRISTOPHER C. HORNER
Counsel and senior fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute