First Coast News ran a story Wednesday that was baffling.

It said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is predicting the sea level at Mayport will rise 7 feet by the end of this century.

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Not true, according to a Corps of Engineers spokesman.

It quoted someone in the story, allegedly as “coastal engineer,” as saying the sea level rise at Mayport could be 3.7 feet in a century’s time, leading readers to believe he was speaking for the Corps.

He was not.

Nor was there anyone quoted or any document cited calling for a 7-foot increase. There was no explanation in the story of where the alleged 7-foot projection originated.

Furthermore the story spelled the speaker’s name two different ways.

Eye on Jacksonville was intrigued by the story because if the sea rose 7 feet most of Mayport Naval Station would be under water. A new island would be created as the Ortega River submerged Roosevelt Square and cut off most of the area known as St. Johns Park (this, according to NOAA).

We inquired and the Corps of Engineers sent this:

“Regarding the First Coast News piece, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is NOT predicting 7 feet of sea level rise at Mayport by 2100.
Based on current Corps sea level rise curve calculations, the high sea level rise projection for Mayport in 2100 is 5.18 feet MSL (mean sea level).
You can view Corps sea level change estimates using our sea level curve calculator at –
https://cwbi-app.sec.usace.army.mil/rccslc/slcc_calc.html
Estimates by other agencies, NOAA for instance, exceed the Corps value.
Both agencies and others are actively engaged in monitoring and analysis of the matter and publish their findings periodically.
Mr Olsen, interviewed in the First Coast piece, is not an employee of the Corps of Engineers.”

Mother Nature has been gradually elevating the sea for centuries. Before that nature had lowered the seas, and Florida was larger than it is now.

Most of the local media have been periodically writing stories to support the idea that humans are causing the seas to rise and it somehow could be stopped by government. To support this narrative they run scare stories from time to time suggesting a tsunami is about to hit the city. In fact, the current “rise” is millimeters per year.

City Council has a special committee that was assigned to assess and improve the area’s ability to react to any threat from rising seas. During its 14 months of hearings, it did hear from a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He gave a range of estimates and said, “The highest rate curve predicts a 1.86 to 2.25-meter rise in sea level at Mayport by 2060.” The top figure is more than 7 feet.

To sum it up: The conclusion in the First Coast News story is not supported in the story itself, but at some point, someone gave a wide range of estimates to someone in which the highest had a number similar to one used in the story.

The irony is that First Coast News runs a “fact check” feature called Verify that purports to rule on the truth of assertions made by others.

Maybe it should check its own stories.

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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