No, 'Roman' baths don't disprove climate change or sea level rise | Fact check – USA TODAY

A June 30 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) shows a photo of what appears to be the seaside “Roman baths” attraction in Sliema, Malta.
“Roman tidal baths on Malta – still at sea level after thousands of years,” reads the caption. “But – climate change is about to kill us all. Right?”
The post, which is a screenshot of a post on X, formerly Twitter, garnered more than 7,000 likes in a week.
More from the Fact-Check Team: How we pick and research claims | Email newsletter | Facebook page
The existence of climate change or global sea level rise cannot be determined based on the status of one landmark, researchers say. Average global sea levels have risen as climate change causes seawater to warm and polar ice to melt, though the effects vary by location. Archeological evidence shows the Malta baths were not constructed by the Romans thousands of years ago, but instead by the English within the last 200 years.
Multiple climate research organizations have documented sustained overall warming of Earth’s climate since the late 1800s. Researchers have also documented the consequences of this warming, which includes sea level rise.
Global warming causes sea levels to rise because water expands as it warms and because melting polar and glacial ice contributes additional water into ocean basins. Through these processes, average global sea levels have risen around 8-9 inches since 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
However, a single locale, such as the “Roman baths” in Malta, cannot be used to detect how much global sea level rise (or global climate change) has occurred. This is because sea level change in any given area could be larger or smaller than the global average.
For instance, in Grand Isle, Louisiana, sea levels have risen at a rate equivalent to three feet per hundred years, since 1950. But in Anchorage, Alaska, area sea levels have dropped at a rate equivalent to more than half a foot per hundred years since 1970.
According to NOAA, local sea levels can vary because of:
USA TODAY was not able to obtain local sea level rise data for Malta.
Fact check: Sea level rise detected worldwide, including near Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil
Malta’s “Roman baths” are not thousands of years old, according to researchers and a local government agency.
A 2012 research paperreported that seaside baths were built in Malta during the late 19th century or early 20th century. The researchers wrote that the design of the baths is recognizable as Victorian Era (the period between 1820 and 1914) English construction.
Malta was a colony of the U.K. from 1814-1964.
The research paper includes an image of a Victorian Era planning document for the Sliema baths.
In a Facebook post written in Maltese, the Malta Department of Information wrote that the “Roman baths” were constructed during the Victorian Era.
The image in the Instagram post was posted by a different Instagram account in 2019. That post is captioned: “Amazing pools in Sliema. Try to spot me.”
More: Can we count on renewable energy? Four ways wind, solar and water can power the US
USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response. The X user could not be reached.
PolitiFact and Check Your Fact also debunked the post.
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or e-newspaper here.
USA TODAY is a verified signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network, which requires a demonstrated commitment to nonpartisanship, fairness and transparency. Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Meta.