GOP Climate Denial will Erode with Florida Beaches

October 12, 2016

I pointed out months ago that climate impacts in Florida could have an impact in swinging Republican climate deniers around – because any pathway to the Presidency becomes difficult, if not impossible, for GOP without Florida.

Al Gore is of course, always well briefed. In his appearance yesterday with Hillary Clinton at a post-Mathew Florida rally, Gore warned as usual of climate change, and Hillary joined in – here, AP fact checks the statements.

AP quotes MIT’s Kerry Emanuel, you can see my interview with Dr. Emanuel and others, above. Below, recent discussions on weather v climate, which if you have not seen, do so now.

AP Fact Check:

MIAMI (AP) — During a campaign rally in Miami Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said Hurricane Matthew was “likely more destructive because of climate change.”

Clinton was campaigning alongside former Vice President Al Gore, who has become a leading climate change activist since leaving politics. She said near record high ocean temperatures “contributed to the torrential rainfall and the flash flooding” from the storm, particularly in the Carolinas.

Clinton also said that rising sea levels mean Matthew’s “storm surge was higher and the flooding was more severe.”

THE FACTS: Clinton is generally right in a big picture way, but scientists who study hurricanes and climate change were not quite as comfortable when it comes to attributing significantly worse harm from a single storm like Matthew.

MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel, an expert on hurricanes and climate, called Clinton’s assessment “a simplification of the truth.”

Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, said the signs of climate change are only seen in “the long-term average.” Clinton’s statement, he said, was “a little bit strongly worded for a single event.”

But as for the storm surge being worse, Emanuel called that a “no brainer” because sea level is higher.

“The same storm in terms of a wind and pressure event 50 years ago would have produced a lower surge because sea level is lower,” said Emanuel, who was a registered Republican from 1976 till about seven or eight years ago.

McNoldy noted the differences are small.

“If Matthew had occurred 20 years ago the storm surge instead of being 8 feet might have been 7 feet 9 inches,” he said.

To a person whose house was flooded, those three inches might not have been noticeable, McNoldy said. But an extra three inches for someone on the edges of the surge could have made the difference between staying dry and getting any water in the house.

Hurricanes use warm water as fuel and the water in the part of the Atlantic that Matthew was in was about 1.8 to 2.7 degrees warmer, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And that means more potential rain, Emanuel said. So does warmer air.

Warmer air holds more water — about 7 percent more for every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit — and “you get more heavy rains with more moisture,” said Mark Boslough, a Sandia National Lab physicist who works on climate change.

“Matthew no doubt rained more than an identical storm would have 30 or 40 years ago because it is warmer,” Emanuel said. He said Matthew intensified incredibly fast — an additional 3.5 mph per hour — and studies have shown that in general “rapid intensification becomes somewhat more likely as the climate warms,” Emanuel said.

Others now picking this up.


Matthew is just the latest and most tragic example of why Florida is not abut the political battleground state for climate change. Lately, the state is a hot mess of climate change-linked apocalyptic disasters. The CDC has issued an unprecedented travel advisory for pockets of the state, due to the spread of the Zika virus, which is also enabled by climate change. In Miami Beach, tidal flooding—i.e. floods that are not even linked to heavy rain—has quadrupled over the last decade, a harbinger of the unabated sea level rise that could put more than 900,000 Florida homes underwater by the end of the century (by far, more than any other state). This year’s outbreak of sludgy toxic algae, exacerbated by warmer water, was so bad on both Florida coasts that a state of emergency was declared in four counties, as the algae sickened people and killed wildlife and fish.


Verano Beach, Florida, post Mathew

The United States today is trapped along fierce partisan lines on the issue of climate change. Democrats correctly say it is the most urgent challenge of our time, while Republicans say it is a Chinese hoax—and it’s a cycle of partisanship that feels impossible to break. On the eve of Hurricane Matthew this week, as Republican governors like Scott and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley told millions of people to evacuate or risk death, conservative commentators Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh seeded weather conspiracies, with Drudge wondering if the “govt has been lying . . . about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate.”

If this toxic political dynamic is ever to break—and it will have to break at some point as climate change worsens—Florida, as both a political and climate battleground state, is one of the best bets to lead change. As a state that is neither firmly Republican or Democrat, it is consistently a major swing state in presidential elections, and as climate-linked disasters get worse, it is possible to imagine the the climate denying voters and politicians finally being forced by reality to pull their heads out of the sand.

There are already early signs of this. Unlike Louisiana, another climate change frontline state—but one that is firmly held by conservative politicians with deep links to the oil industry—Florida has seen signs of bipartisanship on the climate issue. In February, two south Florida members of the House of Representatives, Republican Carlos Curbelo and Democrat Ted Deutch, formed the first-ever bipartisan climate change caucus. The Citizens Climate Lobby, a group that helped get it off the ground, says it creates “a safe place” for politicians to talk to each other on the issue. The group now has 20 members, and out of the seven Republicans, three are from Florida.


Miami Beach is one of the world’s most vulnerable cities to sea floods, but much of Florida’s coastline is facing similar problems. The Everglades wetlands is at risk from invading seawater and the Florida Keys are regularly flooded at extreme high tides.

Nasa is facing floods from Atlantic storms at the Kennedy Space Centre and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Florida coast. But the most urgent threat is to drinking water as saltwater, and the pollution it flushes out, invades underground, and is now moving close to drinking water supplies for 6 million residents.

So it’s no surprise that 81% of people in Florida polled recently said they believe that climate change is happening now – an increase on the 63% in 2012. And yet climate change has been drowned out in the US presidential primary elections – apart from political debates in Miami.

New York Times:

If demographics are destiny, Donald Trump’s political fate could very well be sealed in Florida.

The big demographic threat to the Republican Party isn’t a “blue” Texas or Arizona or Georgia, but the possibility that Florida will follow Nevada and New Mexico to the left. It’s extremely hard for a Republican to win the presidency without Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

20 Responses to “GOP Climate Denial will Erode with Florida Beaches”

  1. […] Source: GOP Climate Denial will Erode with Florida Beaches | Climate Denial Crock of the Week […]

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    “Clinton’s statement, he said, was “a little bit strongly worded for a single event.””

    Good grief, what a starched shirt.

    So, Matthew , born miraculously in the Hurricane Graveyard, ramps up superfast, defies wind shear and land falls multiple times, lasts more than a week, and does all this in a superheated ocean, with superheated waters tens of meters deep on the surface, in sustained local and global air temperatures, in a world with significantly more humidity than 50 years ago – and global warming should NOT be mentioned with regard to this storm?

    This is a tiresome and counterproductive attitude in a world where all our weather is affected by AGW every single day. C’Mon, Kerry Emanuel, sing it loud and sing it proud.

    • Tom Bates Says:

      Wiki the subject, the most hurricanes was in 1880’s the least was in the 1970’s, last year was zero. Warmer and fewer hurricanes. Now that is an inconvenient truth.

      • lesliegraham1 Says:

        “Last year was zero”
        A simply mind-meltingly stupid comment.
        Last year broke the record for the largest number of hurricanes.
        Simple observable measurable fact.

      • Yet again, apologies to all except Tommy Poo for the seemingly endless repetition — but as I’ve said before, every time Tommy Poo pops up here without retracting his lies about NASA’s global temperature work, I’ll hit him with this.

        And I’ll continue to update my official Tommy Poo Retraction Request Counter.

        Tommy Poo,

        This is at least my eighteenth request for you to retract (and apologize for) your lies about the NASA/GISS global-temperature work, lies that I called you out on *months* ago.

        Do you remember this particular claim that you made?

        …and only shows warming after that when they plug 66 percent of the data with estimates which are higher than the actual temperatures they replace.

        I proved you wrong by showing that the NASA warming trend can easily be replicated with raw data (no adjustments/estimates/etc.) Link here:

        When you continued to post here without retracting that completely false claim, I followed up here:

        You also ignored that second request to retract your claim.

        And a third.

        And a fourth.

        And a fifth.

        And a sixth.

        And a seventh.

        And an eighth.

        And a ninth.

        And a tenth.

        And an eleventh

        And a twelfth

        And a thirteenth

        And a fourteenth.

        And a fifteenth.

        And a sixteenth.

        And a seventeenth.

        So I’m following up with yet another request (this one is at least the eighteenth). Will you admit that you were wrong about NASA and how it processes temperature data?

        Every time you show up here, I will ping on you about this.

        Every. Single. Time.

        And I won’t stop until you acknowledge that you were wrong.

        (Actually, I don’t really expect Bates to man up and admit that he was wrong; I’m simply using him as an example of how deniers are utterly and completely incapable of admitting error, even after they tell the most egregious whoppers).

    • Very well-stated. Most climate scientists become incredibly conservative when asked to comment about extreme weather events. There were lots of similar comments by climatologists and meteorologists along these same lines after the Louisiana flooding. ‘It’s possible that climate change was involved but no single event…blah, blah, blah.’ It took an event attribution study by NOAA scientists regarding that event before any scientist felt they could safely state the obvious—long afterwards when no one was listening.

      Actually your list contains the set of elements that are turned to by climate scientists doing event attribution studies. “…event attribution must often rely on the understanding of long-term changes in variables that have a close physical relationship to the event in question and are expected to affect the frequency or the intensity of the event in question.” From the NAS study: page 53. [PDF available at no cost.] Warmer oceans along the East coast and increased levels of water vapor are well documented. Do we have to wait for a formal statistical study before we can say the dreaded extremist alarmist phrase “at least partially due to climate change?”

  3. Gingerbaker Says:

    Michael Mann on the relationship of AGW, ocean heat , and Matthew (from Facebook):

    “There is a new article just out in the Washington Post:

    “Al Gore and Hillary Clinton just strongly linked Hurricane #Matthew to #ClimateChange” by Chris Mooney in Washington Post:…/al-gore-and-hillary-clint…/

    I don’t think this was a particularly good article. Mooney usually does much better. In this case, he draws heavily on misleading arguments from the Washington Post’s “Capital Weather Blog”.

    First off, let’s talk about the nearly unprecedented rapid intensification of Matthew. There is a direct linkage between rapid intensification and ocean heat content. The only two examples of intensification more rapid than Matthew (Wilma 2005 and Felix 2007) were also during the past ~decade, and were also associated with unusually warm conditions in the tropical Atlantic, and those conditions cannot be explained without human-caused climate change (see Santer et al in PNAS:…).

    Mooney seems to dismiss the clear connection between climate change, ocean heat content, and rapid intensification as incidental. It’s not.

    Now, let’s consider Mooney’s other critiques: Nowhere did Gore or Clinton claim that Matthew was “caused” by climate change, and even discussing the connections in those terms buys into the “single cause fallacy” too often invoked when discussing climate/weather connections. Criticizing Gore and Clinton for not explicitly framing the issue this way, when such framing is inappropriate in the first place, is particularly misguided, both on the part of the “Capital Weather Gang” and on Mooney’s part for propagating the unfair criticism.
    Finally, criticizing Gore and Clinton for not spending their available time expounding on the subtleties, caveats and nuances of the science seems plain over the top to me.

    Mooney ends with the statement:

    “Overall, on a scientific level, you can discuss Matthew in conjunction with climate change if you do it the right way. The question, really, is about getting the details right.”

    Well, they DID do it the right way, and frankly I think Mooney and Capital Weather Gang did it the wrong way.

    Anyone who wants to hear me explain the underlying science behind the connections between climate change and Matthew can listen to my recent interview on Democracy Now!:…/amid_media_blackout_over_clim…

  4. What exactly is strongly worded by Clinton?

    Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami — Clinton’s statement, he said, was “a little bit strongly worded for a single event.”

    She said near record high ocean temperatures “contributed to the torrential rainfall and the flash flooding” from the storm, particularly in the Carolinas.

    From below link:

    This isn’t rocket science. An open-minded 5th grader can understand that if:
    A. Hurricanes are fueled by warm oceans
    B. Warmer oceans help make hurricanes stronger.
    Who is going to argue with that? No reasonable person can.
    Also: if…
    A. More rain falls when nearby oceans are warmer
    B. Warmer oceans help lead to more rain from hurricanes
    Here is the evidence that these changes are already happening. It’s not just a theory about the future:

    • Tom Bates Says:

      The 1880s were the most active decade for the United States, with a total of 25 hurricanes affecting the nation. By contrast, the least active decade was the 1970s, with a total of only 12 hurricanes affecting the American coastline. A total of 33 seasons on record passed without an Atlantic hurricane affecting the country—the most recent of which was the 2015 season. Seven Atlantic hurricanes affected the country in the 1886 season, which was the year with the most United States hurricanes.[1]

  5. Karl Wirth Says:

    The problem with Hillary, it seems, is that her belief and conviction can be bought.

    TD Bank contributes to Clinton Foundation and viola! – Hillary supports Keystone Pipeline.

    Not suggesting her rival is the solution by any stretch of the imagination, but when will someone like Al Gore dress her down in public and hold her accountable for words not matching actions? I do realize that this is true for most politicians and not unique to her – but where will it end?

    Politics is available as a fully monetized career move – now more than ever. Not just the campaign war chest, but the related speaking fees and positions available beyond office as ‘consultants’ and the like. It can either be a career in an of itself – or can used as a springboard to future or continuing career/wealth.

    Until special interests have no access to favorable legislation or status through the influence of money – this seems as if it will never end.

    Its no wonder that the entities which question or challenge this – whether AGs, scientists with facts or watchdog groups – are the ones becoming the hunted.

  6. Tom Bates Says:

    The 1880s were the most active decade for the United States, with a total of 25 hurricanes affecting the nation. By contrast, the least active decade was the 1970s, with a total of only 12 hurricanes affecting the American coastline. A total of 33 seasons on record passed without an Atlantic hurricane affecting the country—the most recent of which was the 2015 season. Seven Atlantic hurricanes affected the country in the 1886 season, which was the year with the most United States hurricanes.

    Hillary lying again as she does about everything.

    • lesliegraham1 Says:

      A record 22 hurricanes or typhoons have reached Category 4 or 5 strength in the Northern Hemisphere this year.

      The record was broken on Oct. 17 when Koppu became the nineteenth storm to reach this intensity prior to slamming into the Philippines as a super typhoon. Since then, Super Typhoon Champi, Hurricane Olaf and Hurricane Patricia added to the total.

      The old record for the Northern Hemisphere was 18 set in 2004, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University and blogger for For perspective, an average of 12.5 Category 4 or 5 storms have been recorded during the 1990-2014 period.

      Master Bates lying again as he does about everything.

    • Karl Wirth Says:

      No, Hillary (along with many others) may take a degree of liberty in attempting to directly link one storm – or a small-sample trend of severe events (in other words, current WEATHER) with the crystal-clear irrefutable scientific evidence of global warming.

      Seems almost justifiable, as most people can’t comprehend long-term, slow evolving trends. CLIMATE is abstract to most. WEATHER, they get. The only problem is they are not one and the same.

      It’s kind of sad – Imhofe brings a snowball to show and tell and we are surely in the middle of a mini ice age. 500- and 1000-year washouts occur around the globe, the Mid-East and Australia go to 125 degrees F and it’s a conspiracy, a progressive agenda or a plot by the Chinese. Go figure.

  7. dumboldguy Says:

    G baker, L Anthony, and ClimateState make points that I agree with. The climate scientists need to get off their duffs and start speaking truths. Their reluctance to do so now may result in pitchfork-wielding mobs at their door in the future screaming “Why didn’t you tell us back then?”.

    It’s a shame that Master Bates has once again attempted to jerk us off topic with his ignorance and trolling. I can only reinforce what others have said about the BS Tommy-Poo spouts about the number of hurricanes in a cherry-picked year NOT being as important as SLR and surge, warmer oceans, and more moisture and energy in storms. Too bad that he is so science and logic impaired that we will never get through to him.

  8. Paul Magnus Says:

    come on that tiresome line about GW not attributed to single events is tosh.

    1 some events would definitely not have happened if the current climate hand not been affected by GLOBAL warming.
    2 all weather events now are affected in one way or another by the warmer temperatures… re water vapour, frequency, intensity, size etc.. and we can see this in the records that are constantly being broken in these areas. And some of them are nuts. eg.. in Newfound Land Cdn, remnants of Matthew broke flooding recored set in 1980’s, so recently. By a delta nearly equal to the old record total!! Thats nuts. That is some kinda wild probability sigma.

    So climate scientist need to get off that train of thought. Because it is confusing ppl and its wrong.

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