Watt About Post Glacial Rebound

Anthony WattsAnthony Watts published a guest blog post on Watts Up With That (WUWT) that has left me shocked that he was willing to put it on his website.

The guest blog post in question is written by Richard Guy who argues in it that Post Glacial rebound is a myth (also known as isostatic rebound). According to him it’s a “false concept” and says that it’s part of “Geological theology”. This last one is apparently his way of referring to the scientific field of geology.

The evidence he uses to argue for this is ‘interesting’ to say the least:

The Governments of the United States and Canada are concerned about the ebbing water levels in the Great Lakes. For years the water levels in the great lakes and other lakes have been declining without any signs of ever returning to previous levels. The best news is that there is no hope that the water levels will ever return. The bad news is that we have our heads stuck in the sand dunes which have been created on the shores of the great lakes as they recede.

What we have also failed to notice is that the process is speeding up faster than our ability to grasp the reality. The fact is that this process of ebbing lake and water levels has been going on since pre history but we are just becoming aware of it as more and more shoreline inhabitants observe the phenomenon.

This was just him setting up some information for the argument he’s going to make that isostatic rebound is a myth. I’ll get to how he argues for this in a moment, but the fun part is that the dropping lake levels cannot be used for arguing that isostatic rebound is a myth

The recent drop in water levels in the great lakes seem to be caused by increased evaporation of water due to the water getting warmer. The amount of water going into the lakes and draining from them hasn’t changed in a way that can not explain this. As for example the amount of water going in the lakes has actually increased.

What looks like the cause for this is the loss of ice coverage during the winter that allows sunlight to warm the lakes; giving them a jump-start for their normal warming cycle. This is what drives the increase in evaporation.

The reason Guy talks about the lakes is because it ties into his narrative that land hasn’t been rising and that ocean levels are dropping. According to him water is actually disappearing:

We will never solve the disappearing water problem until we face the reality that we have been mislead by Iostacy.  We have to face this reality because this reality is now facing us: we are losing water all over the planet while we continue to harp on rising seas levels.
Once we abandon Isostatic Rebound we will see the reality of receding seas. This path will also lead us to other interesting discoveries such as why the seas recede.?  Once we accept that seas are receding that acceptance will automatically eliminate Post Glacial Rebound. There is no time to waste because our survival depends on this acceptance.

What is really occurring is that the sea levels have been falling from pre historic times. Rivers have been draining the land and the lakes since pre-historic times. As Sea levels fall lower and lower the draining process moves faster and faster and we lose our wetlands as more and more land is left behind by the receding seas.


So it is wise at this stage to give the lie to rising sea levels and accept receding sea levels. This will not stop the water loss but it will make us understand what we have to do in order to preserve what little water we do have left.

I was quite stunned after reading that.

Scientist ‘harp on about rising seas levels’ as this is a very real phenomenon:

2013_rel5: Global Mean Sea Level Time Series (seasonal signals removed)

Sea levels aren’t dropping and we most definitely aren’t mysteriously losing water. There’s really no need to “preserve what little water we do have left” as it hasn’t been disappearing.

It also ignores that we know isostatic rebound actually happens, there are GPS sensors that measure these changes for us.

This is a level of science denial that is Alex Jones worthy and should be discarded to the rubbish bin. Yet Watts still published it on his blog, although to be fair with the following note:

NOTE: I’m not convinced that this idea has any merit, as I see more conventional reasons (like silting) for land recovery such as at Rome’s original harbor and in New York, but thought it was worth posting for the discussion that would ensue. Even bad science deserves to be discussed/disproven. – Anthony

But I do have a problem with this note. Publishing a blog post that proposes a vast conspiracy theory that flat-out contradicts what we know and what we observe, while offering nothing that would explain this is not something you should do. It’s pseudo-science that’s just as bad as the ‘expanding earth hypothesis‘ and doesn’t deserve an open invitation to discuss its merits.

There’s nothing to gain from discussing this kind of nonsense and it can destroy your reputation and any credibility that you have if you publish this. The only valid thing you can do with this kind of nonsense is to say it’s wrong, point out the flaws, and have some fun with it.

That’s what Watts should have done instead of attaching a weak note.

Update 2013-09-01 @ 11:59
After publishing my blog post I noticed that Watts added a little update on his website where he addresses the point many have raised:

Some people asked why I should publish “rubbish science” like this. The reason is the same that I often publish some “rubbish science”from climatology; it deserves ridicule for the ridiculous premise of the idea.

That’s a very different statement than he had in his note and he was very mild in his language.

Another thing is also that when he publishes “some ‘rubbish science’ from climatology” he very clearly states it’s rubbish and needs to be ridiculed. Although what he considers “rubbish science” almost never is that, most of the time it’s valid research.

Collin Maessen is the founder and editor of Real Skeptic and a proponent of scientific skepticism. For his content he uses the most up to date and best research as possible. Where necessary consulting or collaborating with scientists.