GOP Congressman Says Rocks Contribute to Sea Level Rise

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama is perhaps best-known nationally for not making the runoff in the GOP’s disastrous Senate primary last year, backing Roy Moore to win the runoff, and then sticking with him even after reports that Roy Moore sexually assaulted minors. A House committee hearing on Wednesday showed that Brooks is about as good at science as he is at politics.

In a House Science, Space, and Technology hearing, Republicans reportedly grilled former Obama climate advisor Philip Duffy on the basics of climate change, and Brooks had a really great theory on what the main driver of sea-level rise is. Per Science (emphasis mine):

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) questioned Duffy on the factors that contribute to sea-level rise, pointing out that land subsidence plays a role, as well as human activity.

Brooks then said that erosion plays a significant role in sea-level rise, which is not an idea embraced by mainstream climate researchers. He said the California coastline and the White Cliffs of Dover tumble into the sea every year, and that contributes to sea-level rise. He also said that silt washing into the ocean from the world’s major rivers, including the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Nile, is contributing to sea-level rise.

“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.

Duffy responded: “I’m pretty sure that on human time scales, those are minuscule effects.”


As the Washington Post found, you’d need to drop a rock that weighed 6.6 quadrillion pounds directly into the ocean to see the level of sea rise that we see now.

As for Brooks, who tried to pull rank on Duffy during one exchange by saying he has a NASA base in his district, he should try reading the agency’s website, which says that global sea-level rise has been “caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms.” (It took me all of five seconds to find this in a Google search.)


While Brooks offered a concrete idea for what’s causing sea-level rises, other Republicans insisted that they were Just Asking Questions. “Over and over again, I hear, ‘Don’t ever talk about whether mankind is the main cause of the temperature changing and the climate changing,’” California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said during the hearing. “That’s a little disturbing to hear constantly beaten into our heads in a Science Committee meeting, when basically we should all be open to different points of view.”

Chairman Lamar Smith, meanwhile, entered into the Congressional record a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed alleging that climate change isn’t causing sea-level rise, which was written by Fred Singer, a scientist linked to the carbon industry-backed Heartland Institute. “To solve climate change challenges, we first need to acknowledge the uncertainties that exist,” Smith said during the hearing.


The Heartland Institute’s website, apropos of nothing, boasts that “82% of state elected officials read one or more Heartland newspapers,” and that nearly of elected officials said that Heartland “influenced their opinions or led to a change in public policy.” Translation: We’re all gonna die.