Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Après NC-20, le déluge

Eli was one of the first to point to the North Carolina Leges exercise in Canuteism, ignoring a report of the Coastal Commission's scientific advisors that the state should plan for a one meter (39 inch) rise in sea level over the current century.  They took the advice of one John Droz, Jr., a guy with a masters degree in physics who built a real estate fortune, hates wind power, is a scientific adviser to Chris Horner's crowd (the guys suing for Mike Mann's emails) and a speaker (guess what) at the Heartland Institute bun fight.

Yale 360 has a post by Rob Young, one of the science advisory board, describing what happened.

 The reaction to our report was rapid and effective.  NC-20, a group purporting to represent North Carolina’s coastal counties, attacked both the integrity of the science panel members and the body of sea level rise literature that was reviewed.  The rebuttal consisted largely of oft-repeated arguments pulled from the climate skeptic blogosphere, along with an adamant assertion that predicting the future is impossible.  To the great surprise of those of us on the state’s science panel, these tactics have worked. 
Young points out that
I have received many emails and phone calls from other scientists over the last two weeks pledging their assistance and volunteering to “come help educate the senators” in North Carolina. Sadly, I don’t think it will help.  Quite frankly, those fighting the need to plan for accelerated sea level rise in coastal North Carolina do not want to be “educated.”

They assert that talk of sea level rise will ruin the coastal economy, impact insurance rates, and deter coastal development.  This is absurd.
It is, of course, your blog average denialism in action, and the reason why it is absurd to allow the denialists to bully us about being mean to them.  They ARE in denial and proud of it, except when their denial is called out for what it is.

And as Young points out, that denial is going to cost everyone a lot of money for rebuilding after the deluge, and, if anyone is stupid enough to believe the Canutes, in throwing money into doomed and badly planned coastal infrastructure.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Young says predicting the future is possible and he sounds mad that people think we can't predict the future. I saw that episode of Wormhole, too.

Hardy Cross

notjonathon said...

Caveat emptor. Let's hope that the state will be too bankrupt in the future to aid the fools who bought property in those coastal developments.

Bryson said...

Seems to me the real question is, how stupid are the insurers? Are there really major companines out there ready to make bets on the basis of this claptrap without taking the science into account?

Martin Vermeer said...

> he sounds mad that people think we can't predict the future

Funny thing is that most such people nevertheless confidently predict that surely nothing bad will happen

Anonymous said...

"And as Young points out, that denial is going to cost everyone a lot of money for rebuilding after the deluge.."

My lord. You know, to be successful you greenies must get better at math and economics, otherwise you are truly going to fail. Please understand this; when you claim that doing nothing will cost us much more than if we do something, you are demonstrating that you don't understand simple economics. Something that costs more adds to our GDP, governments like things that add to our GDP. Claiming that doing nothing will cost us more is exactly what governments want. In effect, you are telling them to do nothing. You are shooting yourselves in the foot by saying this. Amazing.

This is the 21st century, how do you greenies survive each day?


Anonymous said...

Someone recently linked somewhere to a video of Monckton railing against the inevitability of sea level rise, and during his diatribe he smugly offered to buy coastal property from punters for the princely sum of one dollar, claiming that his estate would enjoy the benefits for centuries to come.

The thing he didn't seem to cotton on to was that in putting forward this offer, he expressly valued those coastal properties as being effectively worthless. In essence he did what insurance companies do when they refuse to renew policies for flood-prone coastal areas.

For what it's worth, if anyone's tempted to take up Monckton's offer, drop me a line here first. I'd like the chance to put in a counter-offer ten times - no, a hundred times - greater than the cheapskate and hypocritical neo-carpetbagger's one dollar peppercorn. The difference will be that I have no expectation that the property will last for centuries to the benefit of my heirs, although I reckon that there's still some profit to be had in the interim if one is going to so devalue the current worth of such property, and I certainly have no expectation that the value will do anything other than decrease as global warming fully manifests.

Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII, Esq.

(Heh, recaptcha says '8 ernmones"...)

bluegrue said...

I expect insurance companies to issue insurance policies based on mainstream science predictions, erring on the high side of predictions. If the state should try to force them to issue policies based on i their predictions then insurance will no longer be on offer.

Anonymous said...

Since the twentieth century saw a roughly 1/2 meter rise, a 1 meter rise is not too far out of the question.

On the other hand, at least one contributor to sea level rise, ground water depletion, is likely to decrease in the twenty first century ( since we've depleted so many aquifers ).

But if we're planning a century out, I'm beginning to wonder if we should still be planning on America at all.


J Bowers said...

"when you claim that doing nothing will cost us much more than if we do something, you are demonstrating that you don't understand simple economics."

It's no good stating that when you appear to not understand how known physical processes will pull the economics by the nose. Economies are not seperate from the physical universe.

"Something that costs more adds to our GDP"

Not when the investment offsets or negates greater expenditures.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Klem, Congratulations. That is the stupidest, most incoherent thing I've read on the intertubes this week--and you had some stiff competition.

No gummints do not like disasters, and no the effects of disasters do not wash out over time. Just ask the farmers who used to farm near Fukushima. Frickin moron.

Anonymous said...

A_ray, no one can trump teh Curtin on deltoid!


a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Young Hardy, Let us try an experiment. I will bring a deck that has 40 green cards and 10 red cards. For each trial, we will shuffle the deck and draw a card. If the card is green, you owe me $10. If it is red, I owe you $10. Let us repeat this experiment 100 times and see how things work out. I predict I will have a much fatter wallet at the end than I did at the beginning. Shall we try? After all, since predicting the future is impossible, you've nothing to lose, right?

Anonymous said...




dbostrom said...

US insurance companies are in a bit of a fix. They need to avoid sharing liability for carbon pollution which means they need to somehow ignore the pollution problem itself.

See here for more information (also via Yale360):

Insurance Companies Face
Increased Risks from Warming

John Mashey said...

But anyone in construction should love this.
Think how many times houses and infrastructure will get rebuilt, assuming someone will pay for it.

Ed Darrell said...

Somebody should set up a science-based group called "NC-20/20," calling for a "both eyes opened" view of issues. Doesn't "NC-20" mean one eye is always closed?

dbostrom said...

John: Think how many times houses and infrastructure will get rebuilt, assuming someone will pay for it.

AKA "Iterative Dissipative Adaptation."

Anonymous said...

"when you claim that doing nothing will cost us much more than if we do something, you are demonstrating that you don't understand simple economics."

Then why the bejasus did the US spend billions, nay trillions, on nuclear weapons that were never used? Who did the cost-benefit analysis on that one?

Clearly, an uneconomic decision, whoever took it, and therefore a sin.


J Bowers said...

Prof. Rob Young, one of the authors of the SLR report that prompted North Carolina legislators to imagine they could succeed where Cnut failed, has written a forthright and very sane piece in response to the attacks on the report.

Sea-level panel’s mainstream report

"A far more likely scenario than a conspiracy to get funding is this: The scientists and engineers in these organizations looked at the peer-reviewed literature and concluded that global change is real, and that an expectation for an acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise is reasonable."

Anonymous said...

And now Australia's recent scarpering toward the far right has caught up with NC's thinking:


Bernard J.

Gaz said...

Stone the flamin' crows, we've caught your disease.


Anonymous said...


It's worth noting that The Star is (or, at least when I was stamping around that part of the world, was) a free weekly newspaper provided largely as a vehicle to promote the region's current real estate sales.

I wonder how many folk would consider the conflict of interest inherent in such a piece...

Gaz said...

Hi Anonymous. Those free weeklies often fill that role for the local real estate businesses.

Gosford City Council's vote to remove sea-level rise notations (first I've heard about that) suggests that perceptions of conflict of interest haven't been enough to stop the real estate lobby from having its way.

I wonder if Lake Macquarie City Council will suppress sea-level warnings too.

For any non-Aussies reading this, there are three levels of government here - federal, state and local. These councils are the local level of government and are responsible for local roads, garbage collection, land-use zoning, approving building plans etc.