If you listen to those with a political agenda granted a megaphone by incurious media, before the century ends what part of Louisiana doesn’t get swallowed up by rising seas will scorch under the sun lashed by extreme weather. Fortunately, unfiltered science casts extreme doubt on this.
This week, the Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out, just in time to jumpstart a whole new wave of panic for policy-makers meeting later this year to try to lobby for more draconian solutions for a problem greatly exaggerated. Of course, that’s the issue of climate change, and the document that relies far more on adherence to a political agenda than scientific inquiry fits the pattern of its previous editions: cautious evidence of marginal changes hyped into extremism.
Political hacks aside trying to use this to the advantage of their ideological agendas, this tribal response comes from many working in both science and media. So, it wasn’t too difficult for one of Louisiana’s media outlets to find an academician who took cursory note of the conclusions derived for and by policy-makers and extrapolated these to the state. She said at least a six degree temperature rise would buffet the state’s crops and marine life, river flooding would become more common from storms, and sea level rise of four feet would occur unless curtailing drastically the use of fossil fuels with the use of technology.
The silliness of such statements cannot be overemphasized. The summaries creating such scenarios rely heavily on worst cases favored by its authors, but not by climate science which reveals many models both for temperature and extreme weather badly flawed and skewed towards extremes. As in past reports, a detailed reading shows far less extreme scenarios more likely, but these don’t receive endorsement by the panel, reflected in the report.
To dispense with one of the specific Louisiana claims, the scientific record shows that the seas have risen since the mid-19th century about 2 mm a year with little evidence of acceleration (which, if catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is taking place, would be occurring and accelerating in rate). If keeping to this pace, that means by 2100 the seas will have risen just over a half foot, or 7.7 times less than the report claims would happen in Louisiana. (At least this is less than the unduly alarmist forecasts used by the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority in its last master plan claiming the best case scenario was over three feet but the worst was over six).
And, of course, the alleged temperature increase on a global scale is nonsense, derived from a descendant of the infamous “hockey stick.” Naturally enough, so are the allegations on flooding, so don’t even remotely expect the scenarios particularly relevant to Louisiana outlined in the report to occur. Keep in mind that what data the report mention give a muted picture of climate change unwilling to definitively ascribe it to human activity; it’s the extreme narrative interpretations presented in it even contrary to that data that receive all of the attention.
For those willing to drop the ideology and who view the science dispassionately, here’s what we know: the climate is changing because it always changes, but human contribution to that, if significant at all, is minimal. That means almost all of what is observed in the near- and medium-term comes from natural processes, and occurs in gradual fashion in any long-term sense. Further, the changes are such that it makes much more sense to build policy around them rather than disrupt entire economic systems just to make a small dent in the presumed impact.
Unfortunately, this reality is alien to the thinking behind another example of waste in Louisiana government, the resources being shelled out on Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Climate Initiatives Task Force, which was founded on the specific premise that it had to derive ways to mitigate climate change. Expect its conclusions to rely heavily on the report, as well as the many carnival barkers that litter Louisiana’s political scene to continue hyping bad policy based on hyperventilating interpretations of it. Which, to the informed on this issue, should go in one ear and out the other.