The United States Air Force is building a billion-dollar radar installation that will track space debris, protect astronauts, and prevent space-based collisions. But according to the Associated Press (AP), the Air Force and its contractor, Lockheed Martin, ignored climate change when choosing the site’s location—an atoll in the Marshall Islands. Known as Space Fence, critics claim it may get overtaken by rising seas in a few decades. Is that more hype in the polarizing field of climate science?

As part of its investigation, the AP found that neither the military nor its contractor took rising sea levels into consideration when assessing the site because ‘climate change’ doesn’t appear in the pre-installation report.

Yet that same 100-page report shows the radar site could withstand just about any natural disaster, including oceanic submersion. Anyone who has seen the movie "Gravity" understands the importance of tracking space junk.

More harm than good

A new report by author and environmentalist Dr. Bjorn Lomborg shows that this bleak rising-seas forecast is an overhyped exaggeration that actually does more harm than good. He points out how Auckland University scientists Murray Ford and Paul Kenc used old aerial photographs and high-resolution satellite images to examine coastline changes on six atolls and two reef islands in the Marshall Islands. Their peer-reviewed study, which was published in the September 2015 issue of Anthropocene, revealed that since the mid-1950s, the islands’ land mass has actually grown, and were not consumed by rising seas.

If sea level rise was occurring at an “unprecedented rate” as the AP warned, wouldn’t land area be decreasing? Through a process known as accretion, where coral is broken down by waves and washed up on the low-lying islands as sand, it’s lessening the amount of land lost to the seas.

The research shows that this process is happening faster than the erosion caused by sea level rise, leading to increased land growth. Sea level rise is about 1.2 mm per year globally.

‘Little evidence of island erosion’

Not only is accretion happening to the Marshall Islands, but researchers show that within the “recently emerging body of shoreline change studies on atoll islands there is little evidence of widespread reef island erosion.” Indeed, recent studies have shown notable coastal growth and positional changes of islands since at least the 1950s, resulting in an upsurge in land mass.

One study blamed the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo for the slowdown in rising seas, but that would only account for two years.

Lomborg says the most prominent coastline study was published in 2010 and carried out by Paul Kench and Arthur Webb of Fiji’s South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission. They showed that of the 27 Pacific islands, 14 percent lost mass. Yet 43 percent added new mass, with the rest remaining stable.

‘Fact-averse rhetoric’

The Marshall Islands’ President Hilda Heine has consistently blamed climate change for making life on the island nation unbearable.

Except facts don't bear out the hype. Fully one-third of its residents have left the island, but not because of rising seas. Rather, the island nation is home to high unemployment, domestic violence, and sex trafficking, with more than half living below the poverty line. And when CNN, Lomborg writes, tells its viewers that we’re making these islands disappear, they are engaging in “fact-averse rhetoric” that makes for good Television and nothing else:

The essential cog missing from the AP’s report was the non-inclusion of previous studies showing the island nation is not being overrun by rising seas or showing signs of it occurring.

More worrying, the AP relied on a reckless and debunked report by the alarmist group ‘Union of Concerned Scientists,’ even though the military’s 100-page assessment shows the installation could withstand just about any threat, including an earthquake-driven “tsunami.” Science, it seems, will always trump rhetoric.