Saturday, May 24

The Gondolas of Wall Street

"We don't know how much sea levels will rise or fall," says Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, standing knee deep in flood water during his interview with a USA TODAY reporter.

Okay, I made up that last part. I couldn't resist. Ebell's outfit is "a libertarian research group funded partly by fossil fuel interests. He says models can't reliably predict the climate, because its changes are 'nonlinear' or irregular, so flood walls and other measures might waste money."

For crying out loud, even the Department of Defense acknowledges there's a problem with rising sea waters:
The Army Corps of Engineers did a three-year case study, released [in November 2013], that found Naval Station Norfolk's vital infrastructure won't survive the powerful storms and flooding expected in the latter half of this century. In another report [in 2013], DOD said about 10% of its coastal facilities are at or near sea level and are "already vulnerable to flooding and inundation."
Retired Navy captain Joe Bouchard, who commanded Norfolk's naval base between 2000 and 2003, says he expects DOD's analyses will help it decide which bases to save — and how. He wishes he had such information when he replaced two of the base's single-deck piers with double-deckers.
"We got it wrong," he says, noting the new piers aren't high enough to withstand more than a foot of future sea-level rise. "We weren't thinking about climate change, period."
The landlubbers who live far inland can read the rest of USA TODAY's December 2013 report, Rising sea levels torment Norfolk, Va., and coastal U.S. to understand that flooding from rising sea levels isn't a future scenario for America's big cities, the ones located on a coast, which means most of them. It's happening now.  The streets of Miami now flood at every lunar high tide.  As for the 400-year old city of Norfolk, it's turning into marshland.

How much of this is due to the burning of fossil fuels, to "man-made" global warming, or to a cyclic pattern in the Earth's life or coastal lands sinking under the weight of mega-cities built on their edges, or all of the above -- once you're taking incoming fire it's not really the appropriate time to wonder exactly how you ended up in such a stupid situation.

We're here now and we have to do something about it. That's the message of the ten-part series on climate change that USA TODAY fielded last year:The seas have risen and fallen before. What's new is the enormity of coastal development that will need to be protected, moved or abandoned.The series, a tour de force by reporter Wendy Koch, struck the right note, in my view. 

I don't want to hear I'm a Climate Change Denier in the manner of a Holocaust Denier.  I am not alone.  Many people are still skeptical of the scientific research and mathematical models connected with climate issues. And few things are as annoying as watching opposing camps of scientists hurl data sets at each other and call each other crazy. The USA TODAY series speaks to people like me.
And I suspect that the most intelligent among the environmentalists are distancing themselves from the more strident Man-made Global Warming activists, on the theory that screeching at people for their sins doesn't fly well outside a Revival meeting. Even governments are figuring this out.  The USA TODAY article notes that when the Virginia Legislature ordered a study of the flooding issue it avoided using divisive terms such as "climate change" and even "sea-level rise."  Instead, the study was called a "recurrent flooding" analysis.

But as the article makes clear, this is not the time to be playing ostrich. The observation goes double for Wall Street denizens who like the way Myron Ebell puts things.  We'll see how nonlinear they like it when they're taking a gondola to work and snorkeling to a lunch date.


1 comment:

Dan Pangburn said...

Sea level has been rising about 7 inches a century for 8000 years.

Nasty weather is natural. It happens someplace nearly all the time and always has. Vivid graphics on TV make it look ominous and omnipresent. Some, in their quest for control over others, falsely blame humans for it.

NATURAL phenomena drove all of the reported average global temperature changes since before 1900. The temperature trend is calculated by a simple equation. The correlation is 95% and uses only two drivers.

CO2 change is not one of them.

Search using key words AGW unveiled to see the simple analysis and discover the drivers.

Prudent application of technology can reduce the impact of nasty weather.