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24.12.17

Article misleads on LA climate change impact


The state’s journalistic source for promoting catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW), the New Orleans Times-Picayune, strikes again with another push to accepting the poorly-backed hypothesis.

Earlier this month, a piece it published took note of an academic journal article commenting upon sea level rise (SLR). The article used geographic information system data to map sites of archaeological and historical importance, land areas, and the populations associated with these in the southeastern United States (excepting Mississippi for site data) that would suffer at varying degrees of SLR over the next century.

As research it appears solid, and its text displays an even hand, not launching into polemics about what may cause SLR (which could come from temperature rises or subsidence, among others things) or what to do about it. Louisiana, as expected from its geography and population, would be hit perhaps harder than any other state. Even a 100 cm rise would inundate 2,700 archeological sites and 207 historical places, displace at current levels more than 1 million people, and cover over 23,000 square km. Only isolated stretches south of the Northshore, south of north of Baton Rouge, south of Lafayette, and south of north of Lake Charles would stay above water, mainly around most rivers and select bayous.

That’s a realistic risk, according to the data referenced in the state’s coastal master plans of 2012 and 2017, with the 100 cm level chose as the highest extreme around which the former plan based its recommendations. But the latter, despite the range of levels appreciably the same, for unknown political reasons adopted as the highest extreme 200 cm, even as a climate alarmist who authored one of the studies used to establish that level walked back from that as a likely future outcome.

The problem with this, of course, is that a number of studies predict lower SLR; even the politicized Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change puts the high end as just under 100 cm. Note also that over the past century SLR rose about 18 cm. Further, these looks at eustatic, not isostatic, SLR, where subsidence, a major issue, could cause submergence even if eustatic SLR turns out as zero or less.

But the T-P article has none of this nuance. Instead, it just flatly asserts, “[i]f the current projections of about 3 feet of sea level rise over the next century hold true,” as if that view were modal among scientist, alarmists inclusive, much less factual. More soberly, long-term climate trends and geological changes about which man doesn’t have the remotest technology to address would drive the vast majority of any SLR change. A little of that context would better define the public policy options, especially as recent compelling evidence demonstrates subsidence in southeastern Louisiana has accelerated.

Eustatic SLR is a problem. But overstating its probable future impact and ignoring how isostatic SLR affects things does readers a disservice, coaxing them into greater comfort with the CAGW scenario. That kind of milieu is what produced the politicized state coastal master plan assumptions, leading to potential policy mistakes.

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