GOP lawmaker says rocks falling into ocean to blame for rising sea levels

A Republican lawmaker on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee said Thursday that rocks from the White Cliffs of Dover and the California coastline, as well as silt from rivers tumbling into the ocean, are contributing to high sea levels globally.

Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksTrump immigration measures struggle in the courts Latino groups intervene in Alabama census lawsuit Alabama GOP congressman preps possible Senate bid against Doug Jones MORE (R-Ala.) made the comment during a hearing on technology and the changing climate, which largely turned into a Q&A on the basics of climate research.


Climate scientist Philip Duffy testified before the panel, addressing lawmakers’ questions about climate change, according to E&E News.

"The rate of global sea-level rise has accelerated and is now four times faster than it was 100 years ago," Duffy told the panel.

Brooks said that erosion played a factor in that.

"Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up," Brooks said at the hearing.

"I'm pretty sure that on human time scales, those are minuscule effects,” responded Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts and a former senior adviser to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, responded.

The committee, led by Rep. Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Overnight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback Report on new threats targeting our elections should serve as a wake-up call to public, policymakers MORE (R-Texas), in recent years subpoenaed climate scientists in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for documents related to climate research, accusing the agency of pushing a “political study” that concluded there has not been a 15-year pause in global warming.

NOAA scientists determined Thursday that April was the 400th consecutive month with higher-than-average temperatures, a result of global warming.

“To solve climate change challenges, we first need to acknowledge the uncertainties that exist," Smith said in his opening remarks. "Then we can have confidence that innovations and technology will enable us to mitigate any adverse consequences of climate change."

Brooks also claimed in the hearing that Antarctic ice levels are growing. While this was true a few years ago, according to E&E, more recent NASA documentation has shown accelerating shrinkage, and scientists have said that it does not contradict global warming because melting rates are affected by other factors.

A NASA report last year concluded that both Antarctic and Arctic sea ice levels were at a record low and that the accelerating loss could be a major contributor to rising sea levels. 

Brooks and Duffy sparred over the validity of each other’s data.

"We have satellite records clearly documenting a shrinkage of the Antarctic ice sheet and an acceleration of that shrinkage," Duffy said.

“I’ve got a NASA base in my district, and apparently they're telling you one thing and me a different thing," responded Brooks, whose 5th District includes the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Multiple other GOP lawmakers also cited theories that are not accepted by mainstream climate scientists, according to reports.

Rep. Bill PoseyWilliam (Bill) Joseph PoseyGOP lawmaker says rocks falling into ocean to blame for rising sea levels 25 House Republicans defy leadership in key spending bill vote Politics stops at the atmosphere's edge MORE (R-Fla.) referenced a debunked theory popular with climate skeptics, which is that scientists in the 1970s said the Earth was cooling. Duffy disputed that position.

And GOP Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherMidterms in 2018 become most expensive in history Dems target small cluster of states in battle for House GOP super PAC pushes back on report it skipped ad buys for California's Rohrabacher, Walters MORE (Calif.) told Duffy that it was “disturbing”  to constantly be told not to question whether humans are the main cause of climate change, and that the committee “should all be open to different points of view.”