Answer: neither of them can get the science right on sea level rise.
Last Friday, this amusing story came across the the AP wires.
HAVANA – Cuban scientists calculate that median sea levels around the Caribbean nation will rise more than 30 inches by the end of the century due to global climate change, official media said Friday.
Models predict the sea will rise 10.6 inches (27 centimeters) by 2050, and 33.5 inches (85 centimeters) by 2100, Abel Centella, scientific director of the country’s Meteorological Institute, was quoted by Communist Party daily Granma as saying.
I tend to assume that such dispatches from Cuba, North Korea and the like, are redistributed by the AP with tongue firmly in cheek. Especially, since the Cuban estimates are at odds with the IPCC’s estimates. The IPCC, which is not known for downplaying risks from climate change, says the potential sea level rise under a “business as usual” scenario is 8-19 inches by 2100 (p. 409), significantly lower than the Cuban estimates.
Instead of poking fun at the Cubans, however, AP appears to confirm their projections in the final paragraph, claiming “International scientific studies have projected sea levels will rise between 30 and 75 inches (190 centimeters) by the end of the century, fed by melting glaciers and ice caps.” Ironically, the AP is even more alarmist than the Cubans, putting the 33.5 inches predicted by the Cuban scientists at the low end of the projection. It is also worth noting that melting glaciers and ice caps have a much lower impact on sea level rise than thermal expansion…but that’s beside the point.
I am sure there is a study somewhere indicating that sea levels could rise by 75 inches by 2100. The very purpose of the IPCC, however, is to prevent cherry-picking the science to fit political agendas. Needless, to say it doesn’t always do that very well. The environmental community, however, has been the most vocal about protecting the IPCC’s turf and when they deviate dramatically from the IPCC’s projections, it is a pretty good indication that game are being played with the science.
I think there is an important takeaway less from this: if you agree with the Cuban media or scientists, you might want to double check your figures.