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May 25, 2012

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Spag

Actually, if you read the article it appears that both sides had scientists involved and they disagreed in their conclusions. So the exact same argument could be made either way. But hey, the legislature is controlled by stupid, anti-science Republicans so let's couch the argument in those terms, right?

Andrew Brod

I agree with Spag about the make-up of the legislature.

Account Deleted

No matter which version of science is correct, failing to plan for erosion and sea level rise is myopic and the eco-dev group obviously wants to build more and more in an ecosystem everyone knows is maxed out.

Thomas

"NC-20 Chairman Tom Thompson, economic development director in Beaufort County, said his members – many of them county managers and other economic development officials – are convinced that climate changes and sea-level rises are part of natural cycles."

So if sea-level rises are naturally caused, we don't have to pan for it?

When I was a kid in Greenville, between little league games we used to pass the time splashing around in Green Mill Run creek. It wasn't unusual to find sharks' teeth there. Sharks used to swim around where Greenville is now, which is 80 feet above current sea-level.

Thomas

"Plan" for it. Maybe you could call what we did to find those teeth "panning".

Ed Cone

Both sides do cite scientists. One cites a state commission, a distinguished veteran of this specific scientific field, and a raft of studies; the other a scientist who does not seem to be a specialist in this area and his largely-unnamed supporters, along with a group paid to promote beachfront property.

Does that prove that the waters will rise? Of course not. But it's more relevant to an informed discussion than "both sides have scientists."

Dave Ribar

There is no "group" of scientists challenging the CRC findings, only a realtor who stopped working as professional scientist in 1979 and who is a member of NC-20.

Bill Yaner

As our scores and international standing in the math and science studies continue to fall relative to other developed nations, is it coincidence that our dismissive "both sides have scientists" response seems to be growing in popularity? So many don't trust science because they don't understand it's sheer power to elevate human thinking above our particular clan's interests.

In the 1950's, the chemicals industry produced it own army of "scientists" to attack Rachel Carlson's revelations on the effects of DDT - and of course Rachel Carlson herself. Those were different times, however, and my memory is of a rapid consensus forming around banning and regulation in lieu of endless debate. Science was giving us the end of war, space exploration, and cures for diseases like polio, and there was no question of whose side it was on.

justcorbly

I propose we ban thermometers in August. That way we can throw open the windows and avoid all those nasty AC breezes.

Ooh, wait….Let's ban measuring storm surges! That'll save tons of money when the next hurricane rolls up the coast. And, encourage coastal development, too.

Spag

"The group’s critiques quote scientists who believe the rate of sea-level rise is actually slowing. NC-20 says the state should rely on historical trends until acceleration is detected. The computer models that predict a quickening rate could be inaccurate, it says."

Blame the newspaper for not providing the additional cites.

It's good to know that speculation is now science and verified data isn't.

Ged

Sea levels are rising. That's not speculation, it's fact. Ignoring that fact is the height of hubris and the very definition of anti-science. Glad to know NC is keeping up it's winning ways.

polifrog

Continental drift is closer to fact than rising ocean levels. Why are we not preparing for the consequences of continental drift?

Just imagine the changes to the weather patters in the west in the absence of an intervening ocean. My guess is that our already parched west will likely become more so. We should prepare for both social and political turmoil internally and externally with our new neighbor, a neighbor with whom we shall share a boarder.

Lord knows we will never have the time necessary to adapt to such eventual changes.

Central planning is must.

Spag

The question isn't whether they are rising- it's how much. We have scientific data on this. Ignoring that in favor of speculation is the anti-science in play.

Addressing the subject in the snarky way that Ed does where you either buy the end of the world global warming scenario or you are "anti-science" isn't the way to approach it.

Ed Cone

One side includes a bunch of scientists unnamed in its own materials.

Both sides do not seem to have done an equal amount of homework here. Why pretend otherwise?

polifrog

I especially like how "the science panel" cherry picks its records, records which should viewed as questionable if this is true:

The science panel based its projections on records at the northern coast town of Duck, where the rate is twice as fast ...

Imagine their thinking.:

'Hey! The sea level is rising twice as fast in Duck than elsewhere. Let's make that our data set because that best fits with our observations that the Atlantic is incredibly lumpy off the coast of NC. As we all know, when an ocean rises more quickly in one local and less so in others, the data that the ocean rises more quickly in Duck would go a long way in explaining the 'hilliness' of the Atlantic Ocean's surface off the coast on NC.'

or something...


TL

Polifrog, I'm intrigued by neighbors sharing a boarder. Any chance the neighbors are single ladies, and the boarder is a traveling salesman?

polifrog

Boarders. Borders.

My mistake. It honestly wasn't my intention to confuse you.

Thanks.

Andrew Brod

"Both sides do not seem to have done an equal amount of homework here. Why pretend otherwise?"

Because Spag seems to believe in credentials and expertise only when they're legal and only when they're his. He was keen to hold forth as a legal expert on same-sex marriage, and frankly, I felt that was valid. But for him, this is different. Anyone who calls himself a climate scientist is good enough for Spag... if he has the correct opinion.

Dave Ribar

Poli:

The rise recorded at Duck wasn't twice as fast as the rest of the state; it was twice as fast as the lowest rate recorded.

The gauge at Duck was chosen because it wasn't affected by recent dredging, it had been in continuous operation for many years, and was in the ocean.

Rather than imagining their thinking, you could read the report, which explains its choices.

Andrew Brod

Jeff and Ed and a couple of others touch upon a key policy point, namely that this is about assessing and addressing risks, not formulating predictions that have a 100% probability of coming true. As I noted in my first N&R column in the '90s, which was on this topic, just because I don't have proof that my home will burn down doesn't mean that I shouldn't purchase homeowner's insurance.

Standard errors of zero are vanishingly rare in the reality of scientific practice, but they're what the climate-science deniers seem to expect. Anything less is a commie plot!

Andrew Brod

I should have said "anything more" (than zero).

polifrog

Dave Ribar:

The rise recorded at Duck wasn't twice as fast as the rest of the state; it was twice as fast as the lowest rate recorded.


Yes, Dave, they cherry picked the data. Whether looking at whole of the choices they listed or the subset which included only those measurements that began in the 70's, "the science panel" chose the most extreme.

They then bent that extreme toward even greater extremes via the use of projections based on models that have themselves projected incorrectly at every attempt.

Where is the warming the models predicted? Where is the mid level atmospheric warming the models predicted? Where is the snow melt in the Himalayas the models predicted?

Why should we believe exclusively government funded group of homogeneous scientists who not only choose extremes in data that comport with their biases, but further those extremes via falsified models?

Even bunk with an academic veneer is bunk.

Spag

It is unscientific to pretend this is settled science. The estimates of sea level rise vary quite a bit from study to study and we do know that many of the prior predictions failed to manifest.

Spag doesn't seem to believe what Andrew thinks. In fact, only Andrew seems to believe what he believes that Spag seems to believe.

But you can't argue with Andrew. He always has something to say and he's always right. Such people usually suffer from bitterness, arrogance or bitterness brought on by arrogance. But I'm no "expert" in psychology, whereas Andrew is obviously an expert in everything.

Andrew Brod

And I'm the bitter one?

Spag

Yes, you are.

Bill Yaner

My understanding is that in the climate scientist community itself, this debate over our carbon producing's effect on climate change is over. At some point it has to be because science moves on organically (as opposed to a vote) when the consensus is so overwhelmingly in support of a position that they progressively shift their focus to its more refined and as yet unproven aspects on where do we go from here.

Not so in the blogoshere of course, or amongst those cocktail party experts you try to move away from, or the totally unbiased "NC-20" who when not making deals quietly with out of state land developers are at the microscopes and test tubes of their labs till all hours of the night, refining their considerable skills at reaching scientific truth. Here you will find "the debate" raging on, and on, and on, and on, and on, ad nauseum.

Roch

Now, is that settled science or just highly probable?

Spag

I don't know. When the IPCC says that sea levels will increase a MAXIMUM of 59 centimeters and this report claims they will rise one meter, I would say that it isn't settled, much less the cause. Then of course we have to look at all of the other predictions based on settled science that failed to come to pass.

If anything, the science is become more unsettled as more former true believers are becoming skeptics and groups such as the IPCC have had to dial back their inflated projections.

Consensus isn't settled science, especially when it shifts.

Bill Bush

I think we should just look on the bright side. Think how much shorter a trip to the beach will become! And there'll be canals, like Venice, surely a boon to all the currently unimportant little towns on the highway to the current beach. Some good old country tunes crooned by gondoliers as you are poled past the former hardware and fertilizer store, you get the idea. Doesn't it just fire the imagination? Recycling will be aided, too, as scavengers pillage the remains of the current seaside structures. Just think of the opportunities for nutjobs to declare new aquatic nation status for the submerging areas. They can declare Ron Paul their new natural law ruler by "acclimatization". The theme to WATERWORLD can be their national anthem. It is unsingable, thus easing the stresses of attendance at their charter school vs home school athletic contests. Ah, the possibilities!

Ed Cone

The question is not one of mathematical certainty, it's about planning and risk. You don't build a bridge just because the experts say the chances of something terrible happening to it are less than 100%, you assess the data in a methodical and transparent way.

This seems relevant.

Dave Ribar

Poly:

Cherry-picked? There were five long-term gauges to choose from. One (Southport) is no longer operational and cannot be used in the future. The other three (Wilmington, Oregon Inlet, and Beaufort) are all near navigation channels that have been altered over the years, making it difficult to separate these man-made effects from the trend.

Government-funded? The members of the panel serve on a voluntary basis.

Homogenenous? The panel includes engineers, geologists, marine biologists, professionals, and academics. For this study, it also sought out advice in other fields.

Most extreme? The panel provided a range of estimates, including a linear extrapolation at the low end. The one meter figure was the overlap estimate from 7 of the 8 studies it considered. It further called for the forecasts to be re-evaluated every five years. The one meter figure is also consistent with figures adopted by expert panels in Maine, Delaware, Louisiana, California, and Florida.

This is a panel that the state routinely uses to consider scientific matters related to exciting coastal issues, such as terminal groins and inlet hazard area risk lines. The panel wasn't assembled for this issue and didn't have a dog in the fight.

polifrog

From the link provided by Dave Ribar:

Study 1: Horton et al. (2009) developed a sea-level database for North Carolina from new, published and unpublished geological data that cover the past 12,000 years. During this period, long-term average rates of SLR varied from approximately 5 mm per year (19 inches/century) until approximately 3,500 y BP (y BP = years before present, where “present” is AD 1950), to about 1 mm per year (4 inches/century) from 3,500 y BP until today.

So, from 12,000 years ago to 3500 years ago seal level rise was around 19"/century while since then, 3500 years ago to present, sea level rise has been 4"/century.

That is an end of the Ice Age long term trend.

Alternatively, "the science panel" could and did focus on less meaningful temporally isolated data, the 20th century in which sea level rise relative to the ground level was around 12"/ century. That doing so is unscientific, as it ignores geologic context, means little when the homogeneity and like mindedness of a group allows scientists to label unscientific behavior as scientific.

That is a short term fluctuation at the tail end of an Ice Age.

By all means, we should label it scientific to focus on the extreme 1% of data (50-100 years)at the exclusion of the other 99% of the data (11,900 years) for the scientific purpose of pushing a meme because a phalanx of government funded like minded scientists say so.

polifrog

Ed Cone:

The question is not one of mathematical certainty, it's about planning and risk. You don't build a bridge just because the experts say the chances of something terrible happening to it are less than 100%, you assess the data in a methodical and transparent way.

Let's assume 12" rise per century.

How much rise is that over the life span of a bridge? That depends on the construction of the bridge, but let's be generous and give the bridge a 50 year life span. Would 6" of rise render the bridge useless? Would 12"? No.

The thought that these exceedingly slow changes in sea level have any meaningful impact on development characterized by short lifespans is fantasy.

We will dismantle any new bridge built today due to being old and unsafe before a rising sea level could ever do the same.

The fact is that the data presented in Ribar's link points to that exact conclusion. That paper claims we have already been experiencing 12"/century rises in sea level over the past century.

The rate then increased in the 20th century to about 3.2 mm per year (12.6 inches/century)
How many bridges have been destroyed by the rising sea level during that period? How many bridges have we removed due to being old and unsafe during the same period?

Yours is a silly argument, Ed.

Ed Cone

It's not meant to be a case study on rising seas, frog, just an example of planning for risk. Substitute something that happens far from the water, the same logic holds.

Your previous comment implies that you believe climate scientists are ignoring huge, honking realities such as ice ages, which are obvious even to untrained blog commenters. That seems unlikely to me.

You've bought into a construct where the acknowledged non-scientific interests of one group (economic developers) can be ignored, but the vague alleged agenda of another group is said to be a defining motivation. This, too, seems unrealistic to me.

polifrog

Dave Ribar:

Government-funded? The members of the panel serve on a voluntary basis.
All the contributors were sifted by the same filter and that produces homogeneity. Schools relentlessly battle the effect on a racial basis, but not so much in other ways.

Let's look at "the scientific panel's" 'diversity' across the spectrum of our society.


Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, N.C. State University
N.C. Division of Coastal Management (retired), Raleigh

Field Research Facility, ERDC/CHL, US Army Corps of Engineers

Center for Marine Science, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Retired), Wilmington

Department of Geological Sciences, East Carolina University

Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Department of Geological Sciences, East Carolina University

Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

N.C. State University, Raleigh

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington

Department of Biology, East Carolina University

Department of Geological Sciences, East Carolina University

NOAA National Ocean Service

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries

Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

North Carolina Coastal Federation
Department of Geosciences, Western Carolina University

I suppose for some people the above list is representative of their society and, thus, represents no bias for that reason.... people like yourself, people like Andrew Brod.

However society extends beyond government and the like mindedness of those attracted to government.

Others may take into consideration the long term trends of their data and the fact that IPCC models have proven wildly poor at predicting climate change, but those people don't matter because they are not part of the properly sifted homogeneous like minded set.

Bill Yaner

And on, and on, and on, and on. Zzzzzzz.

Andrew Brod

Frog, science panels aren't supposed to be diverse across "the spectrum of our society." They're supposed to be made up of scientists. The next time you need a medical consultation, don't settle for mere physicians. Instead, be sure to convene a committee that's diverse across "the spectrum of our society."

Oh, never mind. No argument ever works with these people.

cheripickr

Yaner's last response was very convincing and I think settles the matter, as are repetitive arguments that rely solely on the persuasive powers of the word "seems".

polifrog

Ed Cone:

Your previous comment implies that you believe climate scientists are ignoring huge, honking realities such as ice ages, which are obvious even to untrained blog commenters. That seems unlikely to me.


Actually, no. From Ribar's linked paper:

The Science Panel has chosen to use the tide gauge data for projections because the tide gauge data represent a more direct indicator of sea level.

That is what "The Scientific Panel" says in their paper. Not me.

Not only does "The Science Panel" solely use tide gauge data while giving lip service to geological time but ignoring that data, they choose a single tide gauge chart (Duck) rather than averaging many, a tide gauge chart that also happens to represent the most extreme pool of data available.

Beyond that, they then attach linear or exponential (take choice of open minded options) forecasting to their numbers when nature is anything but linear or exponential.

It's not me. It's their lack of proper science.

Perhaps working from Duck's tide gauge chart alone would be helpful for Duck, but is it helpful for NC. Would it not be more useful for the whole of the NC coast to work from all the tide gauges? Or, better yet, proper long term data?

Not if one's goal is sensational numbers.

Like minded goals, like minded results.

Ed Cone

The goal is to avoid substantive discussion by miring everyone in endless circular debates about anything but the issue in question.

I'm not saying everyone who engages in these tactics is doing it as part of a strategy, just that this is the larger strategy they are serving.

Frog might believe climate scientists forget ice ages, Sam may believe that anyone claiming to be an expert in a technical field deserves a scrutiny-free pass, but after a few rounds I don't see much point in continuing those particular threads.

Spag

"Sam may believe that anyone claiming to be an expert in a technical field deserves a scrutiny-free pass".

Nope. I do however take exception to arguments that anyone who doesn't subscribe to the catastrophic man-made global warming argument and all of its subsets are anti-science, including the skeptics who are scientists.

I didn't realize the dividing line between science and anti-science was measured in centimeters.

polifrog

I see.

The fact that "the science panel" chooses to ignore ice ages and long term trends in their data and says so in their linked paper is "endless circular debating".

'Shut up' is what I hear. 'Stop quoting our paper'.

Whatever.

When the sea level rise actually out paces the useful lifespan of anything on the coast give us a post. Until then society will without cost painlessly acclimate to the geological changes thrown our way by nature.

polifrog

Andrew Brod:

The next time you need a medical consultation, don't settle for mere physicians. Instead, be sure to convene a committee that's diverse across "the spectrum of our society."

Ribar's linked research which supports Ed's linked article at the post is so poorly done that a high school student is qualified to point them out.

Pedigree does not exclude one from questions ... from anybody.

Dave Ribar

Yes, Poly, what are the chances of expensive infrastructure being affected by rising seas?

polifrog

Link "1"--

Are you arguing that a bridge built 6 months ago is in danger of rising seas now?

Let's see. 12" over a century is roughly 1/10 of an inch a year but we're talking less than 6 months here. But let's stick with 6 months.

Are you seriously suggesting that this bridge is about to succumb to a 1/20 rise in sea level? Heck the tides fluctuate by nearly 3' or roughly 600 times the amount the sea has possibly risen in 6 months.

Might want to look for a more reasonable cause for this bridge's problems than sea level rise.

Link "2"--

From your link:

The sufficiency rating for the Bonner Bridge results from three main factors:

* Soil erosion has occurred over time around the original pilings on the south end of the bridge, and support pilings have been added;
* The bridge is not wide enough for the amount of traffic it carries; and
* Motorists would have to take a 100-mile detour if the bridge had to be taken out of service.

According to your link Bonner Bridge is having difficulty meeting current use and is in need of repair. It appears to be meeting the end of it's useful life rather than meeting it's end as a result of being inundated by a rising sea.

Of course, the southern end of the bridge is suffering from erosion, but that has nothing to do with a rising sea as evidenced by the fact that the northern end of the bridge benefits from accretion.

Shifting sands do not make for rising seas.

bubba

" 'Shut up' is what I hear. 'Stop quoting our paper'."

....and stop making sense, while you're at it.

Don't you know the Alarmists are entitled to frame this, and all other climate hysteria discussions in a way that will convince the casual observer that they're right, and we're wrong?

polifrog

Bubba, the goal is to avoid substantive discussion by miring everyone in endless scenarios based the most extreme cases linearly and exponentially extrapolated forward while avoiding debates about the issue in question.

I'm not saying everyone who engages in these tactics is doing it as part of a strategy, just that this is the larger strategy they are serving.

Ed might believe all climate scientists use their data honestly and without end points in mind, Andrew may believe that anyone claiming to be an expert in a technical field deserves a scrutiny-free pass, but after a few rounds I don't see much point in continuing those particular threads.

Especially when the scientists themselves admit their biases by ignoring unpleasant long term data:

The Science Panel has chosen to use the tide gauge data for projections because the tide gauge data represent a more direct indicator of sea level.
Then furthering distorting the conclusions by picking one outlier tide gauge data set as representative of the NC coast when many were available.

bubba

"Then furthering distorting the conclusions by picking one outlier tide gauge data set as representative of the NC coast when many were available."

That's straight out of the "Conclusion First/Tarted Up Evidence Later" school of no academic integrity these people represent.

Dave Dobson

Polifrog, you really need to read more scientific papers, not ranting bloggers. We're not at the end of an ice age, we're in the middle of a cycle of tens to hundreds of them. The last glacial maximum was 20-25,000 years ago. It's warmed a lot since then, reaching a maximum of sorts about 4-8,000 years ago and then ramping up significantly again beyond that maximum with industrialization over the past few hundred years. Here's a pretty good summary of research.

We have historical records of how much warming and how much sea-level rise has been occurring over the past 300 years or so. The pace of both warming and sea level rise has accelerated greatly in the 20th century, not slowed. If you argue those facts, you're arguing with thermometers and tide gauges, not with scientists or bloggers, and most people who argue with inanimate objects live in managed care or on park benches.

One meter of sea-level rise isn't out of the question. It may or may not be at the high end of the probable outcomes, but it's certainly possible. The difficulty with predicting this stuff comes from trying to figure out primarily how much warming there will be, and secondarily, how much glacial and ice cap melting and thermal expansion there will be that results from it, and tertiarily, how the feedback systems that control climate will respond to these changes. This third-order stuff is the trickiest; just because it's third-order doesn't mean it's small; it could be very large, and we have evidence of huge temperature feedbacks in the geologic record, so we shouldn't rule out the possibility of that happening here. If we do hit one meter of rise (not currently considered likely, but possible) we won't want to have promoted a bunch of building at the current NC coast, because it will be threatened or underwater.

My house has never burned down, and the probability of it burning down is not increasing, but I still pay for my insurance gladly every six months.

By contrast, sea level is rising, and the probability of it rising further is increasing. Shouldn't we prepare for realistic potential outcomes, maybe by not spending money to develop further in areas that are at risk, and to put in place plans to manage problems should the worse (or worst) predictions come to pass? It's far cheaper to plan well than to clean up after screwing up.

Oh, and bringing up "continental drift" (hint, it's been called plate tectonics since the 1960's) just shows that you don't understand anything about geologic timescales. If you want to put together a blue-ribbon commission to prepare for the nonexistent problems resulting from the fairly constant 3 cm/yr opening (not closing) of the Atlantic, be my guest. One possible impact to prepare for: you'll get one more frequent flier mile when flying Charlotte to Paris 53,000 years from now.

polifrog

Dave Dobson:

We're not at the end of an ice age, we're in the middle of a cycle of tens to hundreds of them.

As you say, it is a cycle. I see a single cycle of an ice age as beginning at the crest, where the previous ice age ended, then ending at the next crest at which point the following ice age begins.

At what point would you call the end of an ice age in such a cycle?

Should we call its end at the point when warming begins (the troughs)? I don't think calling the point at which rivers of ice are still calving off the coast of New York the end of an ice age is reasonable.

Should we call its end at the midpoint between crest and trough of the cycle? This seems reasonable but we are not graphing a warming/cooling cycle; we are graphing ice ages.

Should we call an ice age's end at the point when cooling begins again? This strikes me as the most reasonable, as we are talking about ice ages from onset to conclusion.

I guess the point I am making is that we are graphing ice ages, no? As much as we hear talk of global warming and as much as the glacial cycle is referred to when discussing global warming, it is not a graph that represents warming. As proof I point to the term that is used to describe the peaks in our graph ... "interglacial period". The cycle that we are discussing is all about glaciers ... ice ... ice ages. Not warming.

So, until we begin to cool again and begin our decent into another ice age, I contend we are still coming off our last ice age.

And:

If you argue those facts, you're arguing with thermometers and tide gauges, not with scientists or bloggers, and most people who argue with inanimate objects live in managed care or on park benches.

Where have I argued with the data? That trope is tired.

I believe it was clear that I was not arguing with the data in the paper referenced by Ribar, but rather that the choice by "the science panel" to focus on what was roughly 35 years of tide data carts from a single town that happened to have produced the most extreme data of the towns the panel had available while ignoring the previous 11,935 years of data they had in their possession was a might unprofessional.

They winnowed 12,000 years down to roughly 35, the years that the tide table charts of Duck were kept. They also winnowed 8 tide table charts down to 1, Duck's. In both cases the data they kept was the most extreme.

It's clear that the panel threw out all the grain and presented a paper based on chaff.

That is not arguing with data, that is arguing with a process that is neither scientific nor professional.

and:

If you want to put together a blue-ribbon commission to prepare for the nonexistent problems resulting from the fairly constant 3 cm/yr opening (not closing) of the Atlantic, be my guest.

I would have thought it obvious I was referring to the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps I assume too much from my readers.

and:

It's far cheaper to plan well than to clean up after screwing up.

As I said previously, until the rate of sea level rise out paces the useful life spans of our structures and infrastructure, the loss associated with the investment in developing our coast in a non issue because there is no loss.

And that is assuming future predictions of sea level can be made from historical observation, an assumption I find dubious especially considering the poor performance of this "science panel".

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