The September 24, 2014 New York Times (NYT) had an article by reporter Gail Collins, “Florida Goes Down the Drain—The Politics of Climate Change.” A more inflammatory title for the same article appeared in the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution three days later, “Florida soggier as GOP ignores climate change.”
Reading the articles shows the obvious intent to inject climate change into the November Florida elections—in particular the Governor’s race between incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott and Democrat candidate Charles Crist. Ms. Collins portrays Governor Scott as uninformed about climate change issues with regard to sea level rise. He is not.
This article’s patent exaggerations should be of concern to all rational citizens, not only voters. Sound science versus Malthusian alarmism is an issue not only for the 2014 elections but also for 2016 and beyond.
Misstatement of Climate Facts
Ms. Collins article is fabrication–and a testament that many reporters have no concern about the truth with regard to climate science. The very term “climate change” is a bogeyman. Climate change has taken place continuously since the planet was created 4.5 billion years ago. These words always go together and are just as normal as “the sun always rises in the East.”
The controversy is about causes of global warming which Democrats blame on carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. The description of global warming is labeled catastrophic anthropogenic (man-made) global warming (CAGW).
Atmospheric carbon dioxide has been increasing since 1950 and this is thought by many to be due to human’s burning fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas. The increase has been from 310 parts per million (ppm) in 1950 to 400 ppm in 2014. From 1950 to about 1975 there was no global warming and some concern about an impending ice age shown by articles in the June 24, 1974 Time Magazine and the April 28, 1975 Newsweek.
Even Dr. John Holdren’s, president Obama’s science advisor, writings in 1971 “warned of a coming ice age”. From 1975 to 1998, global temperatures slowly increased and since 1998 there has been no increase. Annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide from 1998 to present are at the highest level in millennia of about 2 ppm. Using global warming alarmist’s logic you could say carbon dioxide increases prevent global warming.
Environmentalists within the Democrat Party like Al Gore and Tim Wirth subscribed to CAGW in the 1980s and gained further support after the United Nations formed the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) which produced a series of 5 Assessment Reports released since 1990 with the most recent in 2014. These documents are accepted without question. CAGW proponents argue increased atmospheric carbon dioxide has caused increased heat waves, record high temperatures, flooding, drought, wildfires, reduced snowfall, tornadoes, hurricanes, sea level rise, Artic ice melting, etc.
The Other Side
To counteract omissions, half-truths, and false statements in these reports, the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was formed in 2003. Since 2009, NIPCC has released 6 Reports that give authoritative, easily-read information about vast amounts of experimental data showing negligible influence of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels on climate, benefits of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, financial losses from mitigation, and proper role of adapting to climate change.
NIPCC is supported by three non-profit organizations–Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Science and Environmental Policy Project, and The Heartland Institute.
A host of data exists to show all catastrophic events alleged caused by CAGW occurred in the past when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were lower and constant. For many weather events, rates of occurrences recently declined. The U. S. government provides data on various climate events CAGW proponents claim are increased– heat waves, record high temperatures, flooding, drought, wildfires, reduced snowfall, tornadoes, hurricanes, sea level rise, Arctic ice melting. Inspection of the data shows CAGW claims are false or exaggerated. Another factor omitted is Antarctic sea ice in September 2014 is at the highest level since satellite measurements were started in 1979.
The lack of global warming during the past 16 years, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increased at the highest rate in thousands of years, is conveniently ignored in the UNIPCC Summary for Policymakers Reports. Due to consternation among climate alarmists, 52 explanations have been produced to date for the pause in global warming.
In addition, lack of global temperature increases from 1998 has embarrassed climate alarmists, so they changed the cause for concern from “global warming” to “climate change.” Do they expect there is a planet with no climate change and temperatures that remain constant forever? Is this a condition once existing on Earth? The actions of climate alarmists are deceitful and dishonest in their characterization of carbon dioxide increases as causing “climate change” instead of “global warming”.
Exaggerating Florida’s Sea Level Rise
The NYT article exaggerates sea-level rise in Florida by making charges that Miami Beach may be under water in the near future. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration post their Tides and Currents Database of information about world-wide tidal gauge measurements of sea level change. For Miami and adjacent areas, the following is a table of sea level rise the past century.
SEA LEVEL RISE IN FLORIDA
LOCATION DATA YEARS AVERAGE SEA LEVEL RISE
Miami Beach 1931-1981 2.39 mm/year
Daytona Beach 1925-1983 2.32 mm/year
Jacksonville, FL 1928-2006 2.40 mm/year
Vaca Key 1971-2006 2.78 mm/year
Key West 1913-2006 2.24 mm/year
With current trends of sea level rise, the Miami Beach sea level may rise 240 mm in 100 years or 9.5 inches. Gail Collins also claimed higher sea level rises with, “the group had pulled out their maps and projections — including the one that shows much of Miami-Dade County underwater by 2048.” This nonsense is based on projections from computer models that are shown unable to predict current global temperature changes or local climate changes. Thus, they are worthless for making energy policy decisions. A May 2014 report, “Tide gauge location and measurement of global sea level rise” shows sea level rise is local, globally averaged 1 mm per year, and had not accelerated the past 50 years. Another report, “Secular and Current Sea Level Rise” shows UNIPCC computer projections have no credibility.
Miami Beach has an unusual problem of street flooding during spring and fall high tides because of back flows of their storm drains. The Palm Beach Post reported, “Much of Miami Beach’s drainage system dates back to the 1940s and there is limited data about how many outfalls were designed to remain above high tide or for how long. But an analysis performed by Coastal Systems International, another contractor assisting in the project, showed the ends of the drain pipes are spending more time submerged, with the mean high water elevation creeping up by about 1.68 inches over the last 14 years.” The flooding is a problem of design and not increasing carbon dioxide due to use of fossil fuels. Their drainage systems needs re-design to prevent back flows.
History has shown us sea levels rise and fall with time. Fifteen thousand years ago when the upper North America was covered with ice, sea levels were 400 feet lower than present. Data from Europe around one thousand years ago indicates sea levels were “higher” than present. Climate alarmists are using natural sea level changes to provoke fear among the population to provide support for economy killing policies of abolishing use of the United States abundant, economical, and geographically distributed fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas.
First Things First
The Cornwall Alliance, a Christian public policy organization, published a September 17, 2014 policy statement “Protect the Poor: Ten Reasons to Oppose Harmful Climate Change Policies” that succinctly points out reasons against and consequences of enacting global warming policies advocated by Gail Collins in her NYT article.
With present technology, renewable energy sources of solar, wind, ethanol from corn, other biofuels, etc. are not practical and economical in many instances (see here, here, here, here, here, here). Abandoning fossil fuel use will condemn developing nations to perpetual poverty and developed nations like the United States to a less healthy and enjoyable society.
Remember sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest penetration of electricity of any large area on earth with 550 million without access to electricity. This is the reason plagues like Ebola can take root.
James H. Rust, Professor and policy advisor The Heartland Institute