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Cole writes: "There has been a flurry of irony-heavy articles about how the North Carolina, Republican-dominated state legislature, in 2012 forbade state-employed scientists from talking about sea level rise and climate crisis."

Hurricane Florence. (photo: NOAA/Getty Images)
Hurricane Florence. (photo: NOAA/Getty Images)

Dear Carolinas: You Can't Outlaw Storm Surges and Climate Crisis; Physics Isn't Interested in Your Laws

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

13 September 18


here has been a flurry of irony-heavy articles about how the North Carolina, Republican-dominated state legislature, in 2012 forbade state-employed scientists from talking about sea level rise and climate crisis.

This ostrich policy of just denying reality was intended to prevent real estate values along the coast from falling, and to forestall an abandonment of coastal development by businesses. But what it really did was encourage people to build along the coast without taking into account the likelihood of a 4 foot rise in the seas over the next few decades, and without taking into account the superstorms caused by global heating, especially of the waters.

Now, it is being intimated, the chickens have come home to roost, since the massive Florence Hurricane is bearing down on the Carolinas and points north.

But it isn’t just North Carolina. South Carolina some 9 years ago was presented with a report by the environment department’s Shoreline Advisory Committee. It mentioned sea level rise 43 times. Then the state appointed a blue ribbon commission to look into the issue. The Commission’s report took out all the references to the climate crisis and sea level rise when it issued its report in 2013.

It isn’t just at the level of the state. Charleston is one of the more vulnerable cities in the country to the effects of the climate crisis. It is low-lying and can easily get flooded out. Its city council also deep-sixed a government report warning that the city needed to take action on the climate issue.

The GOP’s reassurance that if only you don’t mention it in the newspapers, climate change won’t happen, may be goofy and endearing to some, but for most of the people in the world it ruins their chances of taking the climate crisis seriously and doing something practical about it.

Florence is the most massive and potentially most destructive hurricane to hit the Carolinas in recorded history. It is fed by warmer Atlantic waters that extend north further than was normal, fed by extra moisture in the atmosphere, and affected by the shifting of the jet stream north. All of these changes are caused by human beings burning coal, gasoline and natural gas and putting the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. CO2 in the atmosphere interferes with the radiation of heat from the sun, once it has struck the earth, back into outer space, keeping the extra heat down on earth.


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+21 # mashiguo 2018-09-13 15:35
nihil sub sole novum

Anyone who has done the math knows it's too late to be holier than thou. We are all going down. Let them enjoy their little boarding-up-the -windows drama, at least they believe they have something to look forward to.
-75 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-13 18:34
The whole SE Atlantic coastal cities have been destroyed by hurricanes from time to time. Beach houses come and go. People keep building them because they can enjoy 40 or so years of wonderful life as opposed to a week or so of a destructive storm. Then they rebuild. They always will rebuild.

I grew up on the beach or within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. The sea level where I grew up in the 60s is the same now as it was back then. It may rise 4 feet in the next few decades but it has not started yet.

It is of course true that ocean temperatures are way too hot and that generates a lot more storms. The weather is getting hotter, but I think most of this is media hysteria. It is another killer flu that is going to wipe out half the human population.

Florence is now slowing down as it gets on land. It is a category 1 and will soon be a tropical storm. That's how it most often happens but the media does not know that.

I'm just tired to the media crying wolf over and over.
+26 # Michaeljohn 2018-09-14 07:06
Wow, time to pull your head out of that beach sand. I've got a couple of decades on you sweetheart and nothing, absolutely nothing reached the destructive power of Sandy and Irene .... and it was the volume of the rainfall, not the wind, that created the major problems... severe destructive flooding ... guess you must be a sociologist because you obviously have no understanding of hydraulics. One of the additional problems with Florence is that the ground from the south through the northeast is already water saturated with a wet summer and whatever wind force remains with Florence, it will be more effective in downing trees.
-11 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-14 11:29
So far Florence is not Sandy or Irene or Katrina.

I was not trying to say that these storms are not destructive. Rather I was criticizing "crisis journalism." All the TV news stations have reporters standing out in the storm giving minute by minute reports. Why? Crisis journalism sells better than anything else. The catch phrase in journalism is "if it bleeds, it leads." Car accidents, murders, hurricanes, terroist bombs, JFK Jr. plane crash -- these are all 24/7 news stories and they don't help one damn bit fix the problems we have.

You can't scare people into making good decisions about moving off of fossil fuel. They just get scared and watch their TV incessantly.

If the media spent the time it spends on crisis reporting on educating people about well thought our plans for converting from fossil fuel to renewables, it would be happening. It is not really happening on a national scale. We've lost the 30 years or so that we could have used for this conversion.
+28 # Texas Aggie 2018-09-14 07:13
"but the media does not know that."

Then how did you find out?

No, the sea level is not the same as it was in the 60's. If your measurements differ from what people who are actually measuring say, then you need to inform them that they are wrong.

And you have neglected to take into account that the continental shelf off the east coast is a lot longer than off the west coast which has a significant effect on storm surges. You also "forget" to take into account that over the whole world, tropical storms are setting records with faster winds and heavier rains than previously recorded. As this article mentions, a hurricane like Florence has never occurred in the records.
-13 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-14 11:48
TA -- three things to say to you.

1. The great historian of science, Thomas Kuhn, always said that science progresses when people question data or hypotheses that have been taken as sacred truth. See Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The data of science is always under question and review.

2. "As this article mentions, a hurricane like Florence has never occurred in the records." --- the hurricane actually hasn't completed yet, so we don't know what it will be. It is slowing down and decreasing in size. "never occurred in the records" is just media bullshit. It is now (or as of yesterday) a Cat 1, hardly the Cat 5 that the media was hyping.

3. And here is Walt Whitman on science --

When I Heard the Learned Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

This is a better way to judge sea level rise -- use your eyes to look at the same breakwaters, piers over and over for 60 years. You know every high and low tide and every marker.
+21 # Porfiry 2018-09-14 08:09
Not just the media: It's scientific proof. Please pull your head out of the sand -- or wherever it is hiding in the dark.
-18 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-14 11:31
What is scientific proof? That beach houses are destroyed and people rebuild? That ocean temperatures are rising? That media hysteria is rising and is far hotter than the Atlantic? That Florence has slowed down from at Cat 4 to a Cat 1? You need to say what the scientists have proved.
-24 # BKnowswhitt 2018-09-14 09:41
Oceans not warming you are correct on your home place .. NO SEA LEVEL RISE .. this is the Big Lie being told by the Left .. both sides lie .. it's all political .. Greenie Lefties owned the EPA after Pelosi brought this bullshit from disaffected CA .. in the OLD Days we used to proudly say that CA was ahead of all the rest of country on good stuff .. now floks are leaving CA like the Plague .. unfortunately this time if we follow their falsehoods .. they will F this country for working class .. one reason i'm glad H lost .. or we would be promoting this scherade and jailing people who disagree .. Left is Facist on this and must be stopped!!!
-5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-15 07:32
Here's the media crying wolf. Yesterday all of the news networks had their star anchors out in the storm bracing and flailing around in the wind, as if they could be killed at any moment. Most were careful enough to be sure there were no people in the background walking normally, but this station screwed up. The news anchor is bracing as if under tremendous wind stress. In the background normal people are walking normally. This is FAKE news.

Juan Cole should watch this.
-2 # BKnowswhitt 2018-09-15 18:16
Anchors on the beach because it's a rain event .. ocean not hot at the gulf stream in what the Nazi Leftie climate change due to CO2 liars propound .. if so the 'Hottest Summer' why is the ocean not changed .. co2 goes into stratesphere does not HEAT the water another lie .. if that water was not so cold the storn would not have cooled off like it did .. and yeah making claims every single time .. worst yet hottest ever .. even Chicken Little would be ashamed ..
+47 # zepp 2018-09-13 18:53
To the folks in North Carolina, you have my deepest hopes that you come through this unscathed and get your lives back together quickly.
For more morons who voted to eliminate references to climate change: Thoughts and prayers, assholes. Thoughts and prayers.
+19 # ericlipps 2018-09-14 04:41
The whole SE Atlantic coastal cities have been destroyed by hurricanes from time to time. Beach houses come and go. People keep building them because they can enjoy 40 or so years of wonderful life as opposed to a week or so of a destructive storm. Then they rebuild. They always will rebuild. {/quote]
Rodion, its pretty obvious you don't live there.

People don't "always rebuild." After having their homes destroyed a couple of times, lots of people get the message and relocate.

Whining about the media doesn't change the basic facts: that hotter oceans, which even you acknowledge, feed the development of more big storms, and that those hotter oceans are due to rising global temperatures, and that human activities contribute to, if they don't cause outright, those rising temperatures.
-12 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-14 11:38
eric -- "People don't "always rebuild." After having their homes destroyed a couple of times, lots of people get the message and relocate."

And then developers come in and build new and very luxurious homes and new people move there. I've actually driven the coast roads from Delaware to Florida several times over the last 30 years. The amount of development along the coast is really huge. I first went to the Outer Banks of N. Carolina in the 1980s. There were very few houses. Now houses are pretty much solid along the beach.

I was whining about the media. They just make things worse. We can control the media -- just ignore them, don't replicate their hysteria, and turn them off.

Global warming is true. We know the cause. As I said above, if the media spent the time on educating people about conversion away from fossil fuel that it spends on horror reporting we'd be far ahead right now.
+14 # elizabethblock 2018-09-14 07:30
Where do these politicians think they are? Camelot, where the weather is controlled by legislation?

"The crown has made it clear
The climate must be perfect all the year

A law was made a distant moon ago here:
July and August cannot be too hot
And there's a legal limit to the snow here
In Camelot
The winter is forbidden till December
And exits March the second on the dot
By order, summer lingers through September
In Camelot"
+17 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-09-14 08:56
'There's none so blind as those who will not see.'
Still true.
'Mother Nature will teach you a lesson. If you don't learn from it, she will patiently do it again, & again till you do. But it gets more expensive each time.'
-4 # BKnowswhitt 2018-09-15 19:07
No it doesn't weather is cyclical .. so yes it repeats itself over time .. which is NORMAL ..
-21 # BKnowswhitt 2018-09-14 09:10
A 3rd greater is smarter than the left liars scaring folks with what failed as global warming .. oh yeah they've tricked up the temp numbers to their favor .. and now climate change .. if the climate did not have extreme weather than it would be f'd up .. but these narcissistic bloviates are so concerned for their own well being they will say anything to get a buzz .. complete lies once again .. and Hurricanes .. it's f'ing Hurricane Season .. grow the F up!!!!!!!!!!11
-20 # BKnowswhitt 2018-09-14 09:22
Hilton Head is get this: 6 Feet below sea level .. why it is not under water with blociates claims about sea level rise? Answer: Because they are LYING ..
-13 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-14 15:17
I've been to Hilton Head many times, starting in the 1980s. It is quite hilly. There are low area that fill up with water at high tide and they drain out at low tide. It has been this way since the 80s. The Island now has houses all along the beaches. They get flooded by storms every decade or so.

I don't think scientists are lying but I think their data and reports are misrepresented by media, which is only looking for some doomsday scenario. All media in the US is not the National Enquirer. Hysteria and stories of three-eyed incest babies sell a lot of papers and air-time. The media is a profit-making business. If it sells, it will get published. Truth has nothing to do with media.

Money talks, truth walks. This is really hard for a lot of people to accept. They love their media. I'm always astonished by people who read the NYTimes and revere it as if it were some prophet from God. No, it is a profit maker for the Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim.
-14 # BKnowswhitt 2018-09-14 18:06
'Scientists' are lying my friend .. I have the goods on it . it's a religion .. we wanted progressive ideas then the Dem Party took the moto .. they want one world government .. one type of thinking ie their own .. demonize anyone on the other side build hate on lies on trump global warming it's all contrived .. been disproven .. they own NBC CBS ABC CNN etc .. this is left wing Nazism american style and MUST be stopped .. go Trump .. in direct proportion to how far gone the left has become ..
-4 # BKnowswhitt 2018-09-14 18:09
Hilton Head island has NO HIlls pal!!!!!!!11
+5 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2018-09-15 18:15
True, not much "hill" on HH. Nothing anyone would call a hill.

Like hill height, physics don't lie.

You know from your own experience that water and other liquids expand when heated. Leave a soda can out in the sun or in a hot car; what happens? Blow up two balloons with your own warm breath; put one in the freezer and the other in the oven on a very low temperature; take them out in 20 minutes and see which is larger.

Secondly, contrary to malarkey, scientists do not earn extra money from the grants that fund their research; grants buy-out scientists' time, allow them to hire helpers & buy supplies & get them out of teaching. Only scientists working for corporations earn money by making up bullshit. Scientific review is always skeptical of people with moneyed interests in their research.

Scientists gain credibility, visibility and better positions by CHALLENGING each others' findings and producing better models of reality, from splitting the atom, to manufacturing gasoline and food additives from petroleum, and to measuring the sea-level rise that has already begun. Liars are detected and rejected.

Sea-level rise has not greatly impacted many places in the US yet. But there are already communities that have been completely displaced by sea-level rise. This is a well-documented fact that you can learn about on your own & even sail your boat there:
-3 # BKnowswhitt 2018-09-16 09:53
Scientists .. a minority are driving the climate change scherade .. they have NO Zero NADA .. funded under Obama and OWNED the epa in their one sided views .. the 97% lie was to a question of educated people to this: Do you think man has an effect on climate .. that's it none on climate change or global warming that is a minority false science view becasue they have been caught red handed manipulating data and studies via government grants .. 80% of meteorologists and other real weather scientists do not back any of this ..

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