I know mainstream media reporters get a lot of things wrong through ignorance and laziness. But this seems like a tough one to mess up on without being deliberate. The Washington Post headline is After the Pacific Ocean swallows villages and five Solomon Islands, a study blames climate change:
In a recent paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the scientists link the destructive sea level rise to anthropogenic — that is, human-caused — climate change. The study marks the first time anyone has concretely analyzed the loss of Solomon Island shoreline in the context of global warming, they say.
the sea-level rise observed in this study — at about a fourth to two-fifths of an inch a year — is triple the global average.
Really? So they believe the water just got piled up in the South Pacific? Do they have crap for brains? Or do they just believe their readers do?
So… I read the original paper, Interactions between sea-level rise and wave exposure on reef island dynamics in the Solomon Islands. Abstract:
Low-lying reef islands in the Solomon Islands provide a valuable window into the future impacts of global sea-level rise. Sea-level rise has been predicted to cause widespread erosion and inundation of low-lying atolls in the central Pacific. However, the limited research on reef islands in the western Pacific indicates the majority of shoreline changes and inundation to date result from extreme events, seawalls and inappropriate development rather than sea-level rise alone. Here, we present the first analysis of coastal dynamics from a sea-level rise hotspot in the Solomon Islands. Using time series aerial and satellite imagery from 1947 to 2014 of 33 islands, along with historical insight from local knowledge, we have identified five vegetated reef islands that have vanished over this time period and a further six islands experiencing severe shoreline recession. Shoreline recession at two sites has destroyed villages that have existed since at least 1935, leading to community relocations. Rates of shoreline recession are substantially higher in areas exposed to high wave energy, indicating a synergistic interaction between sea-level rise and waves. Understanding these local factors that increase the susceptibility of islands to coastal erosion is critical to guide adaptation responses for these remote Pacific communities.
Nothing about climate change.
Here is the conclusion of the paper:
This study represents the first assessment of shoreline change from the Solomon Islands, a global sea-level rise hotspot. We have documented five vegetated reef islands (1–5 ha in size) that have recently vanished and a further six islands experiencing severe shoreline recession. Shoreline recession at two sites has destroyed villages that have existed since at least 1935, leading to community relocations. The large range of erosion severity on the islands in this study highlights the critical need to understand the complex interplay between the projected accelerating sea-level rise, other changes in global climate such as winds and waves, and local tectonics, to guide future adaptation planning and minimise social impacts.
The paper mentions concerns about changes in climate which may affect the islands, but they do not attribute the changes they have seen to climate change. And, in fact, the paper mentions something the Washington Post conveniently doesn’t mention (emphasis added):
Change in the twelve islands in Roviana was mixed with six islands growing slightly (<20%) and six islands declining slightly (<20%).
Some islands are growing in size. Apparently that doesn’t fit the narrative so the general public doesn’t need to see it.
My conclusion: The Washington Post is deliberately deceiving the general public and has crap for brains for believing their readers are too stupid or lazy to read the original paper when they even give us a link to the original paper.