Review of Nils-Axel Mörner's The Greatest Lie Ever Told

Cliff Ollier

This 20-page booklet is about sea level. The title may not indicate its subject, and indeed could have opposition: Jan Koziar (Wroclaw) thinks the greatest lie is plate tectonics; Zbigniew Jaworowski* (Warsaw) thinks it is CO2, which is however closely related to Mörner's theme.

Mörner starts from the undeniable fact that today we are living under huge pressure from the Global Warming bandwagon, then considers the basic assumptions and 'facts', and thirdly gets into sea level and its alleged changes. He recounts a Swedish version of the origin of the Greenhouse-Sea level scenario, started in 1973 by Bert Bolin. In 1987 the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) was born, with Bolin as first president.

He further claims that IPCC has changed the nature of scientific investigation from:



Idea---modelling to prove the model---lobbying to endorse the scenario

Some readers might be tempted to look for tectonic analogues here.

He then moves on to examine sea level, factors that influence it, and how we study it. Observational methods include field observations (which Mörner says suggest little or no sea level rise by 2100), satellite altimetry and tide gauges. He lists about 20 controlling factors and very briefly discusses glacial eustasy, tectonic eustasy, geoidal eustasy and rotational eustasy. The sea surface is itself variable: the Gulf Stream may locally increase sea level by 5 m and the El Niño signal is typically ± 0.3 m. The theories of geoid changes, global isostasy and rotational redistribution of ocean masses changed the old concept of eustasy, and made the search for 'global simultaneous changes in sea level' futile.

Thereafter he concentrates on Late Holocene and present-day sea level changes. He concludes that the European records suggest a sea level rise between 1850 and 1940 of 1.1 mm per year, but after that the rise stopped. For the last 40 years all observational facts give no or negligible sea level rise. On p. 16 is a graph showing how the alarmist IPCC estimates of sea level rise by 2100 have come down over the years to 10 cm ± 10 cm. Mörner's own present estimate is 5 ± 15 cm. This contrasts with the multi-metre claims of people like Al Gore, James Hansen, or Barrie Pittock.

Mörner asserts that climate changes between 1850 and 1970 were predominantly a function of solar variability. On p. 15 he presents graphs and maps showing how the solar minima at around 1450, 1700 and 1820 caused 'little ice ages' and the effect they had on the Gulf Stream. He suggests the next solar minimum will be at 2040-2050 (but other authors suggest it arrives just a few years from now).

On p. 7 he presents a graph of rates of change of sea level since 1700 based on observations, which shows ups and downs but no trend, together with future estimates by INQUA (almost within observed changes) and IPCC (very much greater).

The IPCC claims that the Maldives Islands are among those under most threat of rising sea level. The INQUA (International Quaternary Association) Commission on Sea Level Change and Coastal Evolution supported a team, including Mörner, to study the Maldives sea level history. They produced a new sea level curve for the past ~5000 years, which shows several rapid oscillations (due to local or regional factors) that the people of the Maldives survived. The level was steady from 1790 to 1970 but in the 1970s sea level fell by 20-30 cm, probably because of increased evaporation. Photos on p. 10 show the platforms at different levels. The scientists recorded the good news for the Maldives television, but it was censored! Another IPCC favourite island for drowning is Tuvalu, which is also shown to have no rising trend of sea level, but variability around a zero level with some lows related to ENSO events. The real problem for Tuvalu is sea water intrusion caused by excessive groundwater extraction for the pineapple industry. Yet Tuvalu is threatening to sue the US for causing the rise in sea level! Similarly tide gauge data on Vanuatu shows no sea level rise, despite Vanuatu being reported as one of the first communities to be moved as a result of climatic change.

The booklet is available from and costs AU$15.

This little booklet shows how a bandwagon works, and offers a few things that might help to put the brakes on this particular, rising sea level bandwagon. It is also a sad commentary on how science is manipulated these days.

* Zbigniew Jaworowski, 2007, 'CO2: The greatest scientific scandal of our time', 21st Century Science and Technology, Spring/Summer 2007, pp. 14-28.

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