North Carolina Legislature Votes to Put Physics on Hold

July 6, 2012

Reuters:

RALEIGH, N.C., July 3 (Reuters) – Lawmakers in North Carolina, which has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline and vast areas of low-lying land, voted on Tuesday to ignore studies predicting a rapid rise in sea level due to climate change and postpone planning for the consequences.

Opponents of the measure said it was a case of legislators “putting our heads in the sand” to avoid acknowledging the possible effects of global warming.

Backed by real estate developers, the Republican-led General Assembly passed a law requiring that projected rates of sea level rise be calculated on historical trends and not include accelerated rates of increase.

North Carolina is among the state’s most vulnerable to sea level rise with its long coastline and thousands of square miles of low-lying land. A 2012 study by the U.S. Geological Survey says sea levels along the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts are rising three to four times faster than the global average. Global sea level rise has been projected to rise two to three feet (61 to 91 centimetres) by the end of the 21st century, but in hot spots, the increase may be greater.

A panel of scientists that advises North Carolina’s Coastal Resources Commission, a state policy panel, said coastal communities should plan for about 39 inches (99 cm) of sea level rise by 2100 based on seven scientific studies.

That drew a backlash from a coastal economic development group called NC-20 that called it fake science. The group said making development take into account 39 inches of sea level rise could undermine the coastal economy, raise insurance costs and turn thousands of square miles of coastal property into flood plains that could not be developed.

“This bill is basically like saying to your doctor, ‘Don’t do any tests on me, and if you do any tests and find something wrong, don’t tell me for four years,'” state Representative Deborah Ross, a Democrat, said. “By putting our heads in the sand literally, we are not helping property owners. We are hurting them. We are not giving them information they might need to protect their property. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s dangerous.”

Raleigh News and Observer: 

The debate comes as the U.S. Geological Survey recently projected that rates are increasing up to four times faster between Cape Hatteras north to Boston.

Rep. Pat McElraft, a Republican real estate agent from Emerald Isle who pushed the bill, said the commission would now “use some real science” to evaluate the coast, saying some scientists have debunked global warming.

“You can believe whatever you want about global warming, but when you go to make planning policies here for our residents and protecting their property values and insurance rates … it’s a very serious thing to us on the coast,” she said.

Democratic lawmakers such as Raleigh’s Deborah Ross countered the argument, saying “ignorance is not bliss, it’s dangerous.”

“By putting our heads in the sand, literally, for four years,” she said. “We are not helping property owners. We are hurting them because we are not giving them information they may need to protect their property.”

Republican John Blust of Greensboro appeared indignant about being lectured on climate change, saying “I don’t know what the planet is going to be like in 100 years.”

“If you all don’t agree with our point of view, somehow you’re bad, somehow you’re ignorant … there is a constant almost intimidation factor going on,” he said.

75 Responses to “North Carolina Legislature Votes to Put Physics on Hold”

  1. uknowispeaksense Says:

    There you go Peter, DB has now dragged up the MWP. All we need from him now is, “It’s the Sun, stupid” or “party likes its 1998” and you’ll have a decent trifecta of moronic denialism. How’s that well of tact and diplomacy going? Mine has just enough to not reply directly to him and drag the tone of your blog down, but it won’t be long now.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      You’re doing great.

    • daveburton Says:

      Even most of the people who are in denial about the evidence that keeps piling up that the Medieval Warm Period was a global phenomenon usually acknowledge at least that it was real in Greenland and northern Europe.

      Since the Greenland Ice Sheet is what we are talking about, I think you must surely agree that temperatures in Greenland are pertinent.

      A thousand years ago, Greenland had forests and farms. It’s too cold there now for either.

      The agricultural communities in Greenland survived for several hundred years. If the Greenland Ice Sheet didn’t reach a “tipping point” of accelerated melting then, it surely won’t do so under the colder conditions that prevail there now.

      • uknowispeaksense Says:

        You guys love those vikings don’t you?

        Peter has a video about the MWP that explains this nonsense far better than I can.

        • daveburton Says:

          Despite Peter’s video’s reliance on Mann’s discredited “hockey stick,” and on the discredited claim that the MWP was a strictly regional phenomenon, there’s still not a word in that video which contradicts the fact that Greenland, at least, was warmer 1000 years ago than it is today, and that it stayed warmer for hundreds of years (as compared to the 2-3 decades of mild climate we’ve seen lately).

          1000 years ago, Greenland had forests, and farmers who built wooden structures. That’s no longer possible, because it’s too cold for trees, and the only crop they can grow outside of a greenhouse is potatoes. “If it gets a little warmer, you could talk about a productive forest with enough wood for logs,” said South Greenland’s chief agricultural advisor, Kenneth Hoeg.

          They can hope.

          • greenman3610 Says:

            since the hockey stick has now been affirmed in numerous studies including by the National Academy, you, again will have to save your rhetoric for the tea party meeting.

          • daveburton Says:

            Seriously, Peter, you need to broaden your reading. Mann and his hockey stick are completely discredited. Ding, dong, the stick is dead.

          • daveburton Says:

            For example, the MWP is obviously present in this temperature reconstruction for South America.

          • rabiddoomsayer Says:

            links to a blog with links to another blog, no link to a peer reviewed paper no discussion on how they came up with the result.

            Very disappointed Dave. From what I could see of actual scientists papers the MWP was a variable feast the warmth was in different places at different times.

            As for the timber in Greenland you mentioned, it was all timber but no trees. Some shipped in, but also boat timber. I can not find any scientific (climate of archeological) reference to Greenland being warm for the extended period you mention.

            So Dave any actual science or just utterly discredited blogs.

            As for your criticism of Michael Mann other than the Wegman Report all exonerated his work with the exception of minor recomendations that were taken into account in the subsequent paper. Wegman on the other hand has seen his reputation shattered.

          • daveburton Says:

            Mann’s scientific malpractice is well documented, too.

          • daveburton Says:

            Besides which, even if you’re silly enough to trust Mann, and even if you distrust the preponderance of evidence that the MWP was a global phenomenon (which means that the hockey stick is nonsense), there’s still not a word in that video of yours which contradicts the fact that Greenland, at least, was warmer 1000 years ago than it is today, and that it stayed warmer for hundreds of years (as compared to the 2-3 decades of mild climate we’ve seen lately).

            1000 years ago, Greenland had forests, and farmers who built wooden structures. That’s no longer possible, because it’s still too cold.

            If several hundreds of years of Greenland temperatures warm enough to support trees and agriculture weren’t sufficient to cause a “tipping point” for the Greenland Ice Sheet, then it’s hard to imagine how a few decades of today’s cooler temperatures could do so.

          • daveburton Says:

            rabiddoomsayer, if you think that Greenland wasn’t warmer during the MWP than it is now, then you simply haven’t been paying attention. Although they apparently imported some large timber from Canada, we know that it was warm enough to grow barley-corn in Greenland, which means it was also warm enough to grow some trees, such as poplars.

            It’s too cold, now, though.

  2. Martin Lack Says:

    Sorry to be so late coming to this particular party but… I hope that the children of the people who buy homes on the coastal “there’s no flood plain here” land will not be too zealous in taking their revenge on the descendants of these ideologically blinded legislators…

    • daveburton Says:

      Haha, that’s funny. But maybe that’s why Al picked an oceanfront villa that’s on a little hill:
      http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/05/how-green-is-al-gores-9-million-montecito-ocean-front-villa/1

    • atoieno Says:

      Absolutely Martin.

      Those who would be asked to insure the end purchasers of this wonderful sea front property would take a dispassionate actuarial view of the risks based on all the science available.
      The developers and their advisors would plead caveat emptor.
      The legislators could say that it was those who came before them.

      Isn’t it curious that some (if not all) people erroneously ascribe to others the characteristics, motives, virtues and flaws that they themselves possess. I’ll leave Dave to espouse his views on this condition:

      I find it ironic that they who deny the potential impact (or even the existence) of Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) are through their obfuscation and their inflated self-assurance contributing in no small part to putting the C (Catastrophic) in front of ACC.

      • Martin Lack Says:

        I prefer the term “Anthropogenic Climate Disruption” but… CACC has the added advantage of sounding like the substance in which we will all be embedded if people do not wise-up to exactly who it is that is lying to them. (Hint: it is not the scientists).

      • daveburton Says:

        I’m glad you enjoyed my answer to that question.

        That was during the Q&A time after my talk. Perhaps you would enjoy the rest of the talk, too. If so, go to this page…
        http://www.johnlocke.org/events/videos.html
        …then scroll down to Nov. 28, 2011. And click the little arrow.

        • daryan12 Says:

          Renewable advocates are against development near coasts??? Ya that’s why we want to build wind farms and wave energy generators offshore, or hook up undersea cables!

          If anyone is trying to stop scientific and commercial progress it is the global warming deniers like yourself.


    • Sorry to jump on your post, but I did not want to spend time with DB
      Here are some links on this current topic

      Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years National Academies Press (Free download)
      http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11676&page=1

      http://www.nc-20.com “anti-science.” For Immediate Release

      Click to access NC-20_NCGA_6-12-2012_flier_both_sides.pdf


      “June 12, 2012
      Just the facts: What you need to know about HB 819
      Critics of HB 819 can’t argue with its scientific basis, so they’re resorting to name-calling, and accusing the bill’s sponsors of being “anti-science.” The truth is that what they really object to is the bill’s requirement that coastal regulations be consistent with scientific evidence.”

      Classic example of “Cognitive dissonance” above: To eliminate or reduce their dissonance of not being scientifically based they ignore all the other peer-review articles in Nature’s, AAAS, and PNAS in favor of a more obscure article that supports their false belief also ignoring the discussion in the same journal.
      See below:

      Sea-Level Acceleration Based on U.S. Tide Gauges and Extensions of Previous Global-Gauge Analyses
      J. R. Houston† and R. G. Dean‡
      http://www.jcronline.org/doi/full/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00157.1

      Discussion of: Houston, J.R. and Dean, R.G., 2011. Sea-Level Acceleration Based on U.S. Tide Gauges and Extensions of Previous Global-Gauge Analyses. Journal of Coastal Research, 27(3), 409–417.
      http://www.jcronline.org/doi/pdf/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-11-00082.1

      Robert G. Dean
      http://www.ce.ufl.edu/people/faculty/Faculty%20Bio%20Pages/Dean1.html

  3. rayduray Says:

    From the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” Department we have news that North Carolina will not be among the 20 worst devastated port areas when sea level rise really starts to kick in.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/trillions-at-stake-in-sea-level-rise-for-worlds-top-20-port-cities/

    Is it time for North Carolina real estate specialists to start a major campaign on South Beach in Miami? Maybe so…

  4. daryan12 Says:

    I recall once hearing a story about how one US state once tried to legislate that pi should be rounded down to exactly 3. I always assumed that this was just an Urban legend….until now!

    I presume like King Canute, the NC Rep’s will try and force back the sea by force of will once it does start to flood coastal property!

    • daveburton Says:

      daryan12, northern liberals make up stories like that to befuddle other fuzzy-headed liberals, by playing on their prejudices. No, the Alabama legislature did not redefine Pi to be 3.0, and, no, the North Carolina legislature did not legislate the level of the sea.

      The NC legislature just wants to ensure that our coastal economies are not crippled by the enactment of wrongheaded regulations based on Climate Movement activists’ apocalyptic fantasies, rather than real scientific data.

      • Martin Lack Says:

        As much as you might like to reduce the environment to a Left v Right political issue, Dave, it is not one. Neither are the Laws of Physics; unless only Democrats believe in Gravity, Thermodynamics and such like.

        Anyway, what is this “real scientific data” to which you refer? How does it validate your belief that, rather than a 40% increase in atmopsheric CO2, the global warming and climate disruption of the last 50 years or so is caused by a 4% increase in water vapour and/or a 0.25% increase in Total Solar Irradiance (and/or whatever this week’s herbal remedy is)…?

        You dismiss the work of all but a handful of genuine climate scientists as politically-motivated, erroneous and/or mendacious (despite such accusations having been repeatedly rebutted), citing instead a handful of researchers – and a whole blogosphere full of self-appointed non-experts – who tell you what you want to hear (even though the flaws and prejudices in their work have been repeatedly pointed out to you).

        What is the point of coming here and stating things you must know to be false? Does it really make you feel better? I hope so because, one thing is certain, it does not change the nature of reality.

        • daveburton Says:

          Pay attention, Martin. We were talking about sea level, not about your prejudices regarding Republicans and luke-warmists like me.

          The real scientific data to which I refer are the long term records of coastal sea level measurements at simple, reliable tide gauges at hundreds locations around the world, many of which have records going back more than a century, and some of which go back 2 centuries.

          What we know from that data is that the rate of sea level rise, thus far, has not been measurably increased by that 30-40% increase in CO2.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            Pay attention, Dave. It is you (not me) that is making partisan remarks about “liberals”, which I find so distasteful because one thing I am not is a “liberal”.

            Despite your apparent refusal to acknowledge the huge inertia in the climate system, can you explain your apparent endorsement of the original NC position (i.e. that sea level rise should be assumed to be linear)?

            It is you (not me) that must justify your position because it is you (not me) that is disputing so much basic physics (such as the thermal expansion of sea water) and observation (such as accelerating rates of glacier retreat in many parts of the World).

          • daveburton Says:

            Martin, do you mean to tell me that you think “inertia” is the reason 2/3 century of increasing GHGs have resulted in no increase in the rate of sea level rise? Seriously? TWO-THIRDS OF A CENTURY??

            Can you suggest any physical mechanism which could account for such a delay?

            Can you point to any paper or study or analysis that could account for such a delay?

            And if you do not understand that thermal expansion of surface water in the open ocean has NO EFFECT on coastal sea levels, then it is you, not me, who is disputing basic physics. Look up Archimedes’ Principle of buoyancy.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            I am experiencing an over-powering sens of deja-vu, Dave.

            However, so that I can pin down exactly where you have become detached from reality (most likely due to ideological prejudice and/or political expediency), can you please clarify how many of the following facts you are disputing?
            1. The atmosphere contains greenhouse gases (GHGs) without which the Earth’s surface would not support liquid water and most forms of life?
            2. CO2 is the most important GHG because it is both persistent and abundant when compared to H2O (abundant but weak GHG and impersistent) and CH4 (stronger GHG but much less abundant)?
            3. The burning of fossil fuels has so far added 40% new CO2 to the pre-Industrial atmosphere?
            4. The current energy imbalance this has caused is 0.6 Watts per square metre?
            5. Himalayan glaciers that have been stable for millennia (e.g. evidenced by their being at the head of unglaciated V-shaped valleys) have retreated significantly in the last 100 years.
            6. The melting of glaciers and and ice caps elsewhere (including equatorial ones such as Kilimanjaro and Quelccaya) has been observed to be accelerating in recent years?
            7. The addition of terrestrial ice (not already floating) will raise sea levels?
            8. The effects of melting ice are complicated by the cooling effect of latent heat of fusion and warming effect of reduced albedo?
            9. Sea Level Rise (SLR) is happening even where land subsidence is not?
            10. Acceleration of SLR has already been detected?

            Just numbers will suffice – no junk science blog posts required.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            Erratum: H20 is abundant but impersistent (both in space and time) and therefore ineffective as a GHG.

          • daveburton Says:

            A fair approximation of the positive feedback effect by which H2O adds to the warming from CO2 is to assume constant relative humidity. As temperature goes up, so does H2O content. MODTRAN calculates that this effect amplifies the warming from CO2 in the tropical atmosphere on average by about 60%. E.g. 0.5 C from CO2 alone becomes 0.5 x 1.6 = 0.8 C from CO2 + H2O vapor. This does not take into account various negative feedbacks which should reduce the warming effect of CO2: increased evaporation causing increased water cycle cooling, probable increased cloudiness, etc.

            W/r/t glaciers, while in some locations glacier rate of retreat has increased, at others it has decreased dramatically, when compared to rates of glacial retreat before there were significant anthropogenic GHGs. While increased temperatures can be expected to cause increased melting, the melting, itself, reduces the amount of remaining ice available to melt in the future, thereby reducing the rate of melt, and increased evaporation results in increased snowfall and ice accumulation.

            40% might be a bit high for the anthropogenic increase in CO2. That’s assuming a 280 ppm pre-industrial level, and no natural increase due to ocean warming at the end of the LIA. It was ~315 ppm at the start of the Mauna Loa measurements, in 1958. If the base level was actually 295 instead of 280, then 33% is the anthropogenic increase. Let’s just call it “30-40%” — that’s about as tight as you can get w/ high confidence.

            Acceleration of sea level rise has not been detected over the last ~ 3/4 century. Rather, a slight deceleration is seen.

          • uknowispeaksense Says:

            Ignoring the fact that you have cited a blog as evidence for something, I must admit I am really impressed with your logic regarding ice.

            Increased temperatures increases melting
            Increased melting means less ice to melt
            Less ice to melt means less melting
            Less melting is good
            Therefore increased temperatures are good?

            Interesting.

          • daveburton Says:

            {I attempted to post this yesterday; I don’t know what happened to it}

            A fair approximation of the positive feedback effect by which H2O adds to the warming from CO2 is to assume constant relative humidity. As temperature goes up, so does H2O content. MODTRAN calculates that this effect amplifies the warming from CO2 on average by about 60%. E.g. 0.5 C from CO2 alone becomes 0.5 x 1.6 = 0.8 C from CO2 + H2O vapor. This does not take into account various negative feedbacks which should reduce the warming effect of CO2: increased evaporation causing increased water cycle cooling, probable increased cloudiness, etc.

            W/r/t glaciers, we in some locations glacier rate of retreat has increased, at others it has decreased dramatically, when compared to rates of glacial retreat before there were significant anthropogenic GHGs. While increased temperatures can be expected to cause increased melting, the melting, itself, reduces the amount of remaining ice available to melt in the future, thereby reducing the rate of melt, and increased evaporation results in increased snowfall and ice accumulation.

            40% is probably a bit high for the anthropogenic increase in CO2; 30-40% is a more clearly correct range.

            Acceleration of sea level rise has not been detected over the last ~ 3/4 century. Rather, a slight deceleration is seen.

          • daveburton Says:

            {I attempted to post this yesterday; I don’t know what happened to it}

            A fair approximation of the positive feedback effect by which H2O adds to the warming from CO2 is to assume constant relative humidity. As temperature goes up, so does H2O content. MODTRAN calculates that this effect amplifies the warming from CO2 on average by about 60%. E.g. 0.5 C from CO2 alone becomes 0.5 x 1.6 = 0.8 C from CO2 + H2O vapor. This does not take into account various negative feedbacks which should reduce the warming effect of CO2: increased evaporation causing increased water cycle cooling, probable increased cloudiness, etc.

            W/r/t glaciers, we in some locations glacier rate of retreat has increased, at others it has decreased dramatically, when compared to rates of glacial retreat before there were significant anthropogenic GHGs. While increased temperatures can be expected to cause increased melting, the melting, itself, reduces the amount of remaining ice available to melt in the future, thereby reducing the rate of melt, and increased evaporation results in increased snowfall and ice accumulation.

            40% is probably a bit high for the anthropogenic increase in CO2; 30-40% is a more clearly correct range.

            Acceleration of sea level rise has not been detected over the last ~ 3/4 century. Rather, a slight deceleration is seen.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            All you needed to say was “1 to 10 inclusive” (i.e. you dispute them all).

            As I said in my erratum, one of the many inconvenient truths you insist on ignoring is that water vapour is not a permanent constituent of the atmosphere and it is never uniformly distributed; so it cannot be the effective GHG you claim it to be. However, your insistent denial of this fact is understandable because, having rejected the most obvious explanation for 20th Century warming (i.e. 40% increase in CO2), you are left thrashing around looking for an alternative and, since a 0.25% increase in TSI is clearly a non-starter, you focus on a 4% increase in H2O instead…

            As for the denial of glacier retreat, you appear to be relying on the same junk science as that non-expert par excellence, Lord Monckton… However, Skeptical Science nailed this particular denialist franchise with their… Satellites find over 500 billion tons of land ice melting worldwide every year, headlines focus on Himalayas

            Basically, you need to stop cherry-picking data to suit your “business as usual” agenda, because those you blithely dismiss as “alarmists” are in fact just realists; and it is not their prophecy that has failed to materialise – it is yours: With every day that passes climate model predictions (for actual post-facto emissions) continue to be validated…

            If you have ever read it, I think you must have misunderstood the message of When Prophecy Fails by Festinger et al (1956)…

        • daveburton Says:

          BTW, Martin, if you think this isn’t a partisan issue, think again. Al “million degree magma” Gore made it a partisan issue. He made climate alarmism a non-debatable point among Democrats, like abortion, and Keynesian economics.

          So when a “Science Panel” that has no participating Republicans brought in six “invited contributors” who are all Democrats to create report on sea level, it should come as no surprise that the result was a partisan political document rather than a competent scientific report.

          • rabiddoomsayer Says:

            So if Obama would come out in favor of breathing?

          • Martin Lack Says:

            “OMG, I cannot say I dispute all 10 of those things, they will laugh at me. Time to change the subject!” …Is that how it was for you, Dave?

            The only reason climate change has become a partisan issue in the USA is because the leadership of the GOP has decided to turn it into the New Anti Rational Thought Science & Intellect (i.e. NARTSI) Party.

            However, this will only be temporary (within 4 years reality will require that Romney et al will revert to accepting what scientists tell us) and, in the meantime, you cannot blame this on Obama.


  5. […] Lawmakers in North Carolina, which has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline and vast areas of low-lying land, voted on Tuesday to ignore studies predicting a rapid rise in sea level due to climate change and postpone planning for the consequences. “This bill is basically like saying to your doctor, ‘Don’t do any tests on me, and if you do any tests and find something wrong, don’t tell me for four years,’” state Representative Deborah Ross, a Democrat, said. “By putting our heads in the sand literally, we are not helping property owners. We are hurting them. We are not giving them information they might need to protect their property. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s dangerous.” https://climatecrocks.com/2012/07/06/north-carolina-legislature-votes-to-put-physics-on-hold/ […]


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