Louisiana environmentalists’ version of Crazy Uncle Joe Biden, Crazy Uncle Bob Marshall, has gone Chicken Little on us again.
Like Biden in the world of politics, the former outdoors reporter Marshall when addressing environmental issues has a habit not only of making embarrassingly foolish statements, but also doing so comically in such a hyperventilating, spleen-venting way that makes one wonder whether he passes out at the keyboard when typing his screeds.
He treated readers at his former employer to another such example when he reported on updates to storm surge maps issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center. These show that a terrifically large hurricane could push enough water to inundate Baton Rouge, and smaller ones could flood the north shore, Cajun and bayou countries, the southwest part of the state, and even Baton Rouge’s suburban parishes.
This, of course, is a riff on breathless statements Marshall has written in the past that by 2100 water would lap at the bluffs in Baton Rouge – a belief based upon questionable data and parochial interpretation of these. Because, of course, Marshall worships at the church of catastrophic anthropogenic global warning.
CAGW, which to date has failed to explain why global temperatures have risen insignificantly over the past four decades even as carbon output has increased dramatically and discounts phenomena more closely associated with temperature variation such as El Niño/La Niña activity, he brings into the mix by alleging it has caused this sorry state. Further, Marshall accused national elected officials from Louisiana of not doing enough to raise taxes and spend the proceeds on putting the brakes on the economy to halt the carbon buildup presumably so detrimental.
In short, Marshall believes that eustatic sea level rise (SLR) caused by man-made warmer temperatures makes for a higher storm surge, as well as (the discredited notion that) bigger and more frequent storms will exacerbate the incidences of these events. This, he purports, has come from bad decisions endorsed by Louisiana Republican national officeholders.
But, isn’t storm surge length and duration really determined by subsidence/coastal degradation? That’s the view that Marshall’s fellow environmentalist travelers have, as expounded in their opposition to the state’s giving the go-ahead to building an oil export terminal next to the planned Mid-Barataria Sentiment Diversion. The state hopes to launch construction of the coastal restoration project, designed to prevent further land erosion, in four years.
Recently, the state allowed plans to build the terminal to proceed, declaring its presence would not be inconsistent with the state’s master plan to halt coastal erosion. Now, the builder must provide evidence that the facility’s presence will not significantly interfere with that goal. This green light has raised the hackles of environmentalist groups, who say it will prevent land replenishment that serves as the best guard against storm surge.
This aspect mainly determines storm surge’s impact – although that predicted impact depends upon the validity of NOAA’s data. Unfortunately, it relies upon somewhat questionable data in measuring SLR while satellite-generated data generally tend to higher readings than does sea monitoring, both of which likely overstates the impact NOAA forecasts.
So, as is typical with Marshall, he exaggerates policy impacts as well as misleads in his policy recommendations. The science tells us (recently confirmed in the debunking of another alarmist assertion masquerading as science) that SLR slowly is rising (about 1.2 inches a decade) and, if a warming climate is the cause, human intervention still hasn’t been demonstrated to have a significant impact on that. Insofar as storm surge predictions go, loss of coastal land has a far larger impact on that than SLR.
Marshall’s fears and criticism are entirely misplaced. But zealots ignore science and cling to their faith, and they do what Marshall does.