Predicting Mother Nature

The government of North Carolina is being mocked by believers in anthropogenic global warming because the state’s Democrat governor permitted a controversial legislative bill to become law.

North Carolina House Bill 819 prohibits state officials from relying on current computer models to predict what the sea level along the state’s coastline will be in the future.

An ABC News report about the controversial law states the following:

Republican State Rep. Pat McElraft, who drafted the law, called the law a “breather” that allows the state to “step back” and continue studying sea -level rise for the next several years with the goal of achieving a more accurate prediction model.

“Most of the environmental side say we’re ignoring science, but the bill actually asks for more science,” she said. “We’re not ignoring science, we’re asking for the best science possible, the best extrapolation possible, looking at the historical data also. We just need to make sure that we’re getting the proper answers.”

North Carolina’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards of the state Coastal Resources Commission reported to the state legislature that the computer models gave a mean (average) rise in sea level of 39 inches.

The Los Angeles Times reports the following:

Stanley R. Riggs, an East Carolina University geologist and one of 19 scientists who made the 39-inch projection, said the bill represents “a criminally serious disregard for science.”

The Science Panel on Coastal Hazards of the state Coastal Resources Commission consists of marine scientists, geologists and engineers who relied on tide gauges, satellite altimetry, storm records and geologic data. They cautioned that predicting long-term sea level change is “an inexact exact science,” saying the report reflects “the likely range” of sea level rise due to global warming and the melting of ice shelves.

Because sea levels and scientific knowledge are advancing rapidly, Riggs said in an interview, the panel recommended recalculating sea level projections every five years.

Wait a minute. If sea level projections need to be recalculated every five years, then how can civil engineers properly plan public works projects at or near the coastline?

The Los Angeles Times article also states, “Riggs, the geologist, said the panel had preferred to report a range of projected sea level rises — from 15 to 18 inches to 55 inches, based on each member’s projections. But because the commission demanded an absolute number, the panel took the mean of the range, or 39 inches.”

So, the projection of a 39-inch rise in sea level was not made by any computer model. Instead, it is a statistic about different projections made by nineteen scientists.

Why should civil engineers base the planning of an infrastructure project on such a statistical average when, according to Riggs, sea level projections need to be recalculated every five years? What if infrastructure is built according to an assumed 39-inch rise in sea level, and the actual rise in sea level is 55 inches? Who, then, would have to pay for the damage resulting from the mistaken assumption?

If sea level projections need to be recalculated every five years, then why shouldn’t state officials wait until the scientists recalculate their projections five years from now? If those nineteen scientists cannot guarantee that their sea level projections will be accurate five years from now, then why should state officials use those current projections?

I can’t answer the above questions. Perhaps someone else can.

Meanwhile, in another state, computer models pertaining to climate change are being used in the planning of water conservation.

Here is an excerpt from a document published by a government agency within that state:

. . . Task 2D.8, Investigate Climate Change “What if” Scenarios, this portion of the addendum provides a summary of the preliminary demand forecasts under selected climate change scenarios. Included is a brief description of the global climate change scenario data developed . . . the steps taken by CDM to transform the climate data, and how corresponding demand scenarios were developed for the Municipal and Industrial (M&I) and Irrigated Agriculture sectors. . .

. . . Definition of future climate change scenarios is derived from contemporary climate simulation information. Climate simulation models have been developed and applied to estimate global and/or continental climatic conditions during the 21th century. These climate simulations must then be downscaled . . .

. . . According to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, review of current downscaled climate projections . . . suggests that ____________________  likely to be warmer in the future, although the rate of warming varies. Projections of precipitation differ from model to model and range between drier and wetter than historical conditions (Bureau of Reclamation, 2010).

So, which state is using computer models that predict climate change? Click here to find out.


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