Scare-Mongering on Steroids: NBC Warns Oceans Could Rise 200 Feet!

Forget Al Gore's measly 20-foot sea level rise from "An Inconvenient Truth."  That's small potatoes compared to the kind of catastrophe Meredith Vieira was talking about last night.  Kicking off NBC's Global Alarmism Green Week during the halftime of Sunday Night Football, Vieira raised the spectre of the seas rising . . . 200 feet!  Al imagined much of Manhattan under water, but if Meredith's scenario comes true, we're near to talking Manhattan, Kansas By The Sea! [H/t reader Mick L.]

Just one little problem:  Meredith's talk of 200 feet exaggerates the increase predicted by scientists by . . . literally hundreds of times.Vieira, speaking from Sydney, Australia, where she is focusing on water shortages, chatted with Bob Costas.

BOB COSTAS: Where are Matt, Al and Ann this go-around?

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Matt [Lauer] is in Belize, he's off the coast at a place called the Blue Hole.  It is the home to some of the most exotic marine life in the world, and all sorts of beautiful coral reefs and they're all being threatened because the water temperatures are rising.

Al [Roker] on the other hand is in Iceland looking at the glaciers which store most of our fresh water.  And if they were to melt, the oceans could rise at least 200 feet.

And our intrepid reporter Ann Curry, well she is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro as I speak.  She hopes to reach the summit by Friday.  The snows of Mount Kilimanjaro are rapidly melting, and that is threatening the people of Tanzania.

Now, it is apparently true that a melting of all the world's glaciers could result in a sea-level rise on the order Vieira mentioned.  But by citing the statistic in the context of Green Week, viewers are misled into thinking that man-made factors are threatening such an outcome.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

As per the United States Geological Survey:

Climate-related sea-level changes of the last century are very minor compared with the large changes in sea level that occur as climate oscillates between the cold and warm intervals that are part of the Earth's natural cycle of long-term climate change.

The same article mentions that "global sea level was about 125 meters below today's sea level at the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago." Virtually none of that rise, of course, can be attributable to man.

So by just how much was Vieira off?  According to this study by scientists at the University of Colorado, originally published in Science Express, the "acceleration of glacier melt may cause 0.1 to 0.25 meter of additional sea-level rise by 2100." That translates to a rise of somewhere between 3.9 and 9.82 inches.

In other words, Vieira's 200 feet rise is 244-610 times greater than what scientists predict over the foreseeable future.  But hey, what's an exaggeration of a few hundred times among friends, when it's all in the good cause of being green?

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.