A Message from Tuvalu: Year 2272

Dear Jennifer, 

This is a note from my friend William York. He, like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is able to travel to the future and he has sent me this fascinating message:

Tuvalu 10pm New Year’s Eve, 30 December 2272

Dear Tom

I have just been listening to The Voice of Tuvalu, one of the most-listened-to Internet Radio Stations (IRS) of this extremely popular set of tourist islands. The IRS reported that the Tuvalu Museum Department of Sea Level Records has been given a contemporary copy of the Scripptures, one of the most sort-after documents of the early part of the twenty first century.

These documents are supposed to be the basis for a mysterious group called the IPCC.  Little is known of their role and actions as they were evidently wiped out in 2020 and all their records destroyed by the governments who had evidently originally sponsored them.

It is thought that they may have acted like an environmental Taliban, another mysterious group operating at about the same time although there is no evidence that they acted in concert.

The Scripptures came into the hands of the donor by inheritance. It is thought that they were found around 2100 when a scavenging group broke through the ice into the dead letter office of the Santa Barbara Central Postal Facility and found a set of undelivered parcels. These contained both the Scripptures and a number of documents with the letters IPCC stamped on them. This discovery has been likened to that of the Dead Sea Scrolls which so entranced scholars at the end of the twentieth century.

The Scripptures were a popular folk doctrine in the twenty first century and a little of it was read on the Internet from the First Book of Keeling, “Genesis of an Idea”

“And low the great Keeling came down from his volcano and went to meet his people gathered on the beach at La Jolla and he said to them ‘The breath of Man is bad, it is as the breath of ten thousand dragons. The oceans will boil and the seas will rise unless we stop driving to the shopping malls, put away our Hummers and stop using natural gas and gasoline that are adding gigatonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year.

“And his people put aside their surf boards and hang gliders and to the cries of ‘right on’ and ‘cool it man’ they set about writing scientific papers and ensuring a sustainable future for their institute.”

I am looking forward to seeing the documents on the Google Archive after they have been authenticated by the authorities.

Incidentally I don’t know if you noticed the date. About 150 years ago it was decided at a world wide time keeping conference that one day should be removed from the calendar every one hundred years. This is to correct for the slowing down of the earth’s rotation due to the extraordinary use of tidal power for electricity generation in the early twenty first century. The tides were so interrupted by removing energy from the earth moon gravity interaction that frictional losses from the interaction of the oceans with the rotating surface of the earth reduced its spin velocity. This of course was all abandoned towards the end of the twenty first century what with the ice and as the use of fusion power generation slowly extended around the globe.

I have put this message in a timewarp bottle which I am told should find its way back to you. Anyway I must go down to the beach now. It is quite a descent through some extraordinary coral canyons,

Kind regards
William York

34 Responses to A Message from Tuvalu: Year 2272

  1. david November 27, 2008 at 7:33 am #

    Have been to Tuvalu and the locals don’t find climate change very funny. Here’s a few photos which show why http://www.tuvalu.tv/tiki/tiki-browse_gallery.php?galleryId=1 . These occurred during the highest non-storm surge tides on record.

    And to pre-empt sceptic talking points.

    Tuvalu sea level is rising, the land is not sinking, coral mining has not caused the flooding (its higher sea level), the place has been inhabited for 3000 years using ground waters which are now widely saline. The rate of sea level rise is +5.9mm/year over the history of the SEAFRAME tide gauge (http://www.bom.gov.au/ntc/IDO60101/IDO60101.200809.pdf).

  2. Janama November 27, 2008 at 9:02 am #

    Well the first point made by the BoM article is worth noting.

    “”Please exercise caution in interpreting the short-term trends in the table below – they will
    almost certainly change over the coming years as the data set increases in length.””

    Here’s an extract from an article in Pacific Magazine:


    Check the Science
    Well, rather than rely on Brown’s “sense” of sea level rise, let’s check the instruments. As it turns out, estimates of globally averaged sea level rise in the 20th century are irrelevant since Tuvalu’s local sea level change is very different from the globally averaged change. There are three estimates of sea level changes for Tuvalu. The first is a satellite record showing that the sea level has actually fallen four inches around Tuvalu since 1993 when the hundred-million dollar international TOPEX/POSEIDON satellite project record began. Second comes from the modern instruments recording tide gauge data since 1978. There the record for Tuvalu shows ups and downs of many inches over periods of years. For example, the strong El Nino of 1997-98 caused the sea level surrounding Tuvalu to drop just over one foot. The El Nino Southern Oscillation is a natural – as opposed to man-made -future of the Pacific Ocean, as areas of the Pacific periodically warm then cool every few years, causing significant sea level rises and falls every few years in step with the co-oscillations of the ocean and atmosphere. The overall trend discerned from the tide gauge data, according to Wolfgang Scherer, Director of Australia’s National Tidal Facility, remains flat. “One definitive statement we can make,” states Scherer, “is that there is no indication based on observations that sea level rise is accelerating.” Finally, there is the new estimate by scientists at the Centre Nationale d¹Etudes Spatiales who also find that between 1955 and 1996 the sea level surrounding Tuvalu dropped four inches.

    All these measurements show that Tuvalu has suffered, at worst, no sea level rise. So much for Brown’s sense of sea level trends for Tuvalu.

  3. Luke November 27, 2008 at 9:14 am #

    And Janama did you point out that was from a 2002 article by none other than Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon. Yes ….. hmmmm … desperate …

    versus a Sep 2008 BoM report ….

  4. Janama November 27, 2008 at 9:17 am #

    Did you read the BoM 2008 report Luke?

    Look at the graphs – nowhere in the report does it say that Tuvalu faces sea level change BEYOND the normal variability. It dropped 1ft during the 1998 El Nino.

    Hence the warning to exercise caution in interpreting the short term trends.

  5. janama November 27, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    did you also notice that the rate of sea level rise is +5.9mm/year –

    The Solomon Islands is 7.9mm/year and FSM 21mm/year yet they aren’t asking for asylum in NZ or Aust.

  6. Janama November 27, 2008 at 9:30 am #

    BTW luke – your attack on Dr Sallie Blaiunas is typical “attack the messenger” tactics you employ regularly. Here’s her credetials.

    Sallie Baliunas is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Division and formerly Deputy Director of the Mount Wilson Observatory. She serves as Senior Scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute in Washington, DC, and chairs the Institute’s Science Advisory Board. She is also Visiting Professor at Brigham Young University, Adjunct Professor at Tennessee State University and past contributing editor to the World Climate Report.

  7. wes george November 27, 2008 at 9:40 am #

    Nice tale, Mr. York.

    I often wonder how many of us clever prognosticators of the future could have, back in 1984, predicted the rise of machine language protocols for networked computer nodes as the defining techno-cultural paradigm shift of the next decade. Odd, that something so inevitable was shrouded from most people’s imaginative vision a mere eight years or so before the fact.

    Future, thy name is novelty! Often unspeakable novelty, because neither the semiotics nor the memes exist to hoist the next paradigm over the horizon of human consciousness. One cannot forecast, much less even conceptualise, a paradigm that has yet to be signified by language.

    And that’s, in a nutshell, why all pronouncements made with percentages of certainty about the state of whatever in the year 2050 are worse than simply being wrongheaded, its charlatanism, pure and simply. It’s a cunning effort to manipulate human behaviour based the public’s misplaced faith in the epistemological omnipotence of science.

    Nevertheless, the truth is out there, usually in the very last place one would think to look for it. Today, looking back to 1984, it’s obvious that all the pieces of the Internet paradigm were in place and racing towards convergence, it didn’t pop fully formed from Jupiter’s head.

    Yet the terrifying truth is that humanity’s future has always been (and will always be) like jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 meters then deciding you need to invent yourself a parachute. But, first you’ll have to invent the linguistic signifiers to define the concept of “parachute” before you can begin to think about how to make one. So much for the first 6,000 meters of freefall.

    Today, tomorrow’s next great leap is incubating, scattered in a thousand fractal shards swirling towards convergence and the great glory of existence is that not a single sentience, much less computer code, has a clue how it’s all going to unfold as we freefall towards the so-called “limits to growth,” or more accurately, the limit of human imagination.

    Because the future is unknowable it’s ours to invent. We possess free will, our destiny is almost entirely in our hands. It’s what separates our ontological existence irrevocably from the predetermined fate of computer algorithms in a solipsistic climate or economic model.

    Remember that the next time a smug technocrat offers up mechanistic prophecies of doom for the year 2075.

  8. Talbyv November 27, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    Funny, things have changed from 2070!
    “the great Keeling came down from his volcano”

    I thought for a moment it said the Great Keating and thought that there had been a major historical rewrite, much like the rewrite that remembers failed PM Gough as Great.

    Then I realised that it must be Dr. Charles David Keeling, professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who was the first to measure CO2 in the atmosphere on a continuous basis.

  9. Eli Rabett November 27, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    Wes George asks how many of us clever prognosticators of the future could have, back in 1984, predicted the rise of machine language protocols for networked computer nodes as the defining techno-cultural paradigm shift of the next decade?

    Well, Al Gore did according to Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn who were two of the most important pioneers in establishing the network.

    “As far back as the 1970s Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system. He was the first elected official to grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship […] the Internet, as we know it today, was not deployed until 1983. When the Internet was still in the early stages of its deployment, Congressman Gore provided intellectual leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high speed computing and communication. As an example, he sponsored hearings on how advanced technologies might be put to use in areas like coordinating the response of government agencies to natural disasters and other crises.[3]”

  10. spangled drongo November 27, 2008 at 11:38 am #

    Tuvalu’s problem is deckspace not freeboard.
    With rising population that needs to migrate it suits their argument to say the problem is not of their making.

  11. CoRev November 27, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    Eli, isn’t it funny that Mr Gore’s name was never associated with the Darpanet and ensuing DoD initiatives? Once well established as a DoD technology this visionary was able to see its usefulness.

    A whole article about a fictional religion and up pops Al Gore’s name. Coincidental?

  12. david November 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm #

    >Tuvalu’s problem is deckspace not freeboard.

    Are you suggesting the weight of more people is causing the islands to sink? That’s the only way the population could explain the rising sea level.

  13. DHMO November 27, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    Interesting Tuvalu can have its SL rise by 5.9 mm while the rest of the Pacific rises 1.8mm. The very first thing that I saw from the new religion which made me believe I was being conned was the film about Tuvalu. No one who lived on the island spoke until one sentence at the end which was very clear english. In that always the film was made a maximum high tide in a place that has considerable tides. There was an obvious need to get off the island due to population and no industry. Food was imported who paid was a mystery. There was also a much complaint about the fact the sand mining for building had become difficult. Anyway by this time the island must be under water so there arn’t any people there so why worry.

  14. Hasbeen November 27, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    David, did you read that last post, before you sent it, or you really that dense?

  15. Louis Hissink November 27, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    From the RAN information I have access to, Tuvalu is in no danger of submersion.

    The whole game is to weasel more money out from the World Bank by employing the gullibility of the useful idiots here that emission of CO2 is a problem.

  16. Luke November 27, 2008 at 8:24 pm #

    What a bunch of tossers – really good differential GPS measurments as to what’s going on and the drongo denialists aren’t convinced. Well LMAO !

  17. Eli Rabett November 28, 2008 at 2:18 am #

    CoRev, do you have a point or are merely here for amusement value? The question was who saw the promise of the INTERNET and the answer is Gore foresaw the promise of networks in the early 80s and worked in the US congress and as US Vice-President to make it happen and it did happen. Now you are after him for being born to late so you had to learn penmanship????

  18. CoRev November 28, 2008 at 3:09 am #

    Why, Eli, are many believers such putzes? Computer Networks were well established in the 80’s. Its like claiming Gore recognized the value of Jet airplanes. Yes, I was part of the community. Yes, I realize that the comment in timing and content were just political fodder to cover Big Al’s backside from his gaffe. Do you?

    Have I already mentioned the coincidence of an article about a pseudo-religion and a “True Believer” bringing up big Al’s name.

  19. Eyrie November 28, 2008 at 6:42 am #


    David’s really that dense.

    Louise, don’t forget also the delightful possibility of being evacuated to countries like Australia and NZ which have social security systems.

  20. Eli Rabett November 28, 2008 at 7:31 am #

    Ah CoRev, you are such a jewel and Eli probably knows a few more Yiddish curse words than you do, so let’s not go there. Eli was one among many of the first users of ARPANET, BITNET, JANET and such, so yes, not only does he know when they were established he knows about how easy (not) they were to use. For example, the only way to get from BITNET to JANET till about 1987 was through a link some grad student somewhere in the US maintained irregularly, which made it great fun to communicate with collaborators in England. There really was a huge step forward in the mid 80s when a lot of the nets in the US became part of NSFNET and the others died off, and yes, Gore played an important policy role in that too. Why don’t you go read the letter from Cerf and Kahn again. These guys clearly know what end is and was up and sharp with networking and you clearly need to rent a clue. If you keep this up we can always get John Mashey to clean your clock

  21. Louis Hissink November 28, 2008 at 7:57 am #


    Yes, one of the principal reasons we have a problem with immigration is the existence of the unaffordable social security system. I tried to get geodetic survey data of Tuvalu a year or so ago and while the titles of the papers are listed, access to them was strangely blocked.

    But the RAN data is impeccable – the Tuvalu government doctored a scientific report to shjow Tuvalu was in danger of sinking in order to get more funds from the World Bank.

    Ironic isn’t it. The very same political organizations who want to alleviate suffering and poverty put in place policies which exacerbate this – by central bank creation of Fiat money.

    Once the mob realise what is going on, it will not be pleasant for the progressives.

  22. Hans Erren November 28, 2008 at 10:41 am #

    Eli is very confusing when he writes about himself as Eli on other blogs than his own.

    Eli is not Caesar.

  23. CoRev November 28, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    Eli, users never quite realize the work that went into creating a newly accepted packet switched network non-proprietary standard(s). One which politics, but not “POLITICS” played a role. No Al Gore. The growth of the early standards X.25 and then the OSI Model lead to the Internet Protocol (IP) standard upon which the internet was based. Again, No AL Gore! Networks were around well before Al’s claim and the internet. Remember ATMs were in service before the internet and many found them useful. The implementation of the IP standard caused a huge growth in LAN interconnections and the implementation of the internet. As I said earlier recognition of their usefulness was the equivalent of recognizing the value of jet airplanes.

    Another BTW, you will never find my name in the history books, but I implemented the largest email system in the world in the early 80s saving the Fed Agency for which it was implemented 5 times its implementation costs in its first year. And, I am also a winner of a FED 100 award in the 90s. So stop blowing smoke. In some circles knowledge is actually living history, and Big Al was not part of it. Big Al’s holding Senate Committee hearings is instrumental in what? Pshaw, Eli, get a grip. Your god has feet of clay.

    BTW, have I mentioned the coincidence of Big Al’s name being mentioned in an article about pseudo-religions?

  24. FDB November 28, 2008 at 12:55 pm #

    Tagged as “humour”?

    Laughably poor writing, sure, but is that what you meant?

  25. Eli Rabett November 28, 2008 at 1:39 pm #

    Hans, Eli may not be Caesar but he is salad (or at least fond thereof)

    CoRev, politics paid the bills, that money came from somewhere as did directions to the agencies.

  26. Eli Rabett November 28, 2008 at 1:45 pm #

    Anyone care to defend the proposition that the sea level has fallen at Tuvalu

  27. wes george November 28, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    Dr. George smiles in mild amusement that Eli is so gratifyingly pompous he’s beyond the truck of first person pronouns. While, Dr. George, in general, wishes to refrain from commenting upon the literary stylistics of forum posters, Eli’s anomalously archaic pretension is too suggestive of a certain turn of personal self-regard and rather specific psychopathologies to go unmentioned given the modern age we find ourselves so deeply immersed in.

    Perhaps, it’s a clever look in hyper-competitive America. Nevertheless, Dr. George would respectfully submit that when the honorific and much celebrated Dr. Rabbett posts in an Australian forum he might be well advised that upon this dry continent, famous for its egalitarian culture, one might consider lowering his tall poppy profile by a head or two in order to come down to the level of the natives, that is if such courtesy isn’t beneath his auspiciousness.

    Dr. George shall now light his pipe and retire into to the library to await call for afternoon tea. Good day, sir.

  28. Eli Rabett November 28, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Eli is but a humble Rabett, not an eminent physician, dentist, large animal vet or shudder, climate scientist, however he understands that the locals down where the good Dr. George is are not friendly to the family Leporidae and even put up fences to keep us bunnies out. Still Dr. George should understand that Eli’s sort of distancing has a long history in letters and especially in political tracts. It is, if anything, a diminution of self which has certain advantages for otherwise hot arguments.

    So Doc, you wanna defend the proposition that the sea level has fallen at Tuvalu?

  29. cohenite November 28, 2008 at 3:53 pm #

    Eli’s looking for a bet; perhaps he should look at the National Tidal Facility data for Tuvalu before he puts his few beads and tokens down;


  30. spangled drongo November 28, 2008 at 4:05 pm #

    “Anyone care to defend the proposition that the sea level has fallen at Tuvalu.”

    Apparently these people are.


  31. wes george November 28, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    The Grandee, Dr. Bug Bunny ask, “Anyone care to defend the proposition that the sea level has fallen at Tuvalu?”

    Oh, Oh, pick me, pick me, Professsor. I’ll defend falling sea levels!

    You see, Bill sez in his story that he had to descend though calciferous canyons to get down to the beach of Tuvalu in 2272 AD…

    Uh, wait, what’s that, Dr. George? What? It’s only a sci fiction story…


    Dr. George cares to point out to the auspicious Dr. Rabbet and his eager acolytes that William’s allegoric tale has a critical thrust that does not depend on whether or not the oceans are rising or falling, in fact, it’s an irrelevant question that misses William’s discursive context altogether.

    William’s message is that the phrenologists at the IPCC staring blindly into the high gloss of their solipsistic models are mistaking the reflection of their own shallow and predictable prejudice for a future map of reality. As such they have imprisoned themselves inside what one might call a “though box” from which all other possible future trajectories are beyond imagination.

    And now they wish to imprison us all in their windowless thought box with them. How utterly boorish!

    William presents us with but one of an infinite number of possible future trajectories for the Earth in his tale, as seen from the perspective of a single person on Tuvalu. Tuvalu’s actual state is irrelevant, he could have equally well picked a rapidly growing Moroccan glacier as the setting for his tale.

    By selecting an entirely subversive and dissenting future trajectory as opposed to the one favoured by those who live inside the orthodox thought box that AGW theory requires, William must have hoped to open our eyes to the vast array of possible futures splayed out before humanity. Ah, but what a disappointment the literalist Dr. Rabett must be for our aspiring author.

    Dr. George submits that William wishes for us all to ask the ultimate human question “what if” without precondition or prejudice and to realize that there is no “correct” answer.

    The moral of the tale is this: No one (other than Al Gore, of course) can know what the future holds for humanity and this is literally a definition of the future.

    Dr. George elaborates: If we “knew” the future then it would by definition be part of the present and the past, not the future rife with possibilities at every tick of the clock.

    If computer models could know the future of even only mildly complex systems (in comparison to the climate of the earth) such as the behaviour of stock markets, then we would exist in a deterministic universe — evolution, novelty, endeavor and serendipity impossible, along with individuality and free will.

    In fact, Dr. George is willing to punt that the future of even moderately complex systems will prove to be immune to prophecy even as computers grow more powerful, because if, as Ross Garnaut claims, one can predict the GNP of Australia a century from now, then we must be living in a universe where the past is indistinguishable from the future. Direct observation seems to reject that hypothesis.

    Continue to ask “what if,” even when the high priests say not to bother, the science is settled and the debate is over.

  32. spangled drongo November 28, 2008 at 4:51 pm #

    “What a bunch of tossers – really good differential GPS measurments as to what’s going on and the drongo denialists aren’t convinced. Well LMAO !”

    Since when has a GPS been able to measure ocean level rises or falls? Of 1 or 2mm per year?

    That arse of yours has been laughed off just too often.
    You’re losing your balance.

  33. spangled drongo November 28, 2008 at 8:50 pm #

    Anyway we can all go back to our wicked consuming ways.
    Those dang Texans have done it again. The best solar system in the world and all our food, fuel and farting problems solved.
    Courtesy of Jeff Id at The Air Vent.


  34. Mark Duffett November 28, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    The geological fact of life that all coral atolls are sinking has been known since Charles Darwin worked it out on the Beagle in the 1830s. The only question is whether and for how long the growth processes of coral reefs are able to keep up. I suspect the answer to that question will not be simple, for Tuvalu or any other atoll, global sea level rise or otherwise.

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