Posted on | July 13, 2014 | 47 Comments
“There has been a rise of about 10 inches in sea levels since the 19th century — brought about by humanity’s heating of the planet through its industrial practices — and that is now bringing chaos to Miami Beach by regularly flooding places like Alton Road,” says Harold Wanless, a geology professor at the University of Miami. “And it is going to get worse. By the end of this century we could easily have a rise of six feet, possibly 10 feet. Nothing much will survive that. Most of the land here is less than 10 feet above sea level.”
The obvious first question: Is this true?
Stipulate that Professor Wanless is correct about the 10-inch rise in sea levels in the past 200 years. This would be a measurable phenonmenon, and it would be hard for a scientist just to make up something like that. But must we accept Professor Wanless’s cause-and-effect assertion, that the rise in sea levels has been “brought about by humanity’s heating of the planet through its industrial practices”? Even if we accept that assertion, does the data really justify Professor Wanless’s claim that the trend will — or rather “could” — bring about “a rise of six feet, possibly 10 feet” within the next century?
When you start chaining together “if/then” hypotheticals to arrive at a doomsday scenario of the future, you have ceased to engage in science and are merely fear-mongering. Having seen all kinds of doomsday scenarios like this turn out to be nothing but irresponsible speculation, I am skeptical about the latest scare, and don’t think people are being serious about the whole “climate change” hysteria.
Second obvious question: Aren’t carbon-emitting “industrial practices” necessary to make Miami suitable for human habitation?
Try to imagine living year-round in Miami without air-conditioning. But how do you have air-conditioning with electricity, and how do you generate electricity without carbon emissions? There are five nuclear power plants in Florida, but most of the state’s electricity is generated by coal-burning or natural gas-burning plants.
How many more nuclear/solar/wind plants would Florida need to reduce the “carbon footprint” of their electricity needs by 10 percent or 20 percent? What would be the cost of this, and who would pay those costs? Isn’t it possible that switching from cheap coal-powered electricity to more expensive forms would involve a cost so large as to cripple Florida’s economy? And should we do this for the sake of a theoretical threat of global warming catastrophe?
Questions like this could be multiplied infinitely. Miami’s economy is largely dependent on tourism. These tourists mainly arrive by airplanes and automobiles. We can imagine (and there may already exist) technology that would reduce or eliminate the use of carbon fuels in transportation, but that technology will cost money, and if non-carbon fuels were economically feasible — if they were cheaper than “green” technology — there would be no need for government mandates or subsidies to promote them. (Keep in mind that electric cars don’t do anything to reduce carbon emissions, so long as electricity is generated by carbon-burning plants.)
As long as tourism is crucial to Miami’s economy, the “industrial practices” involved in cheap transportation will be necessary to the city’s existence. So trying to “save” Miami from rising sea levels by reducing carbon emissions doesn’t make much sense if, in the process of reducing carbon emissions, you wreck the basis of the city’s economy: No air conditioning, no jet planes, no Miami.
The Apostles of Climate Change do not generally follow the logic of their ideology to the secondary and tertiary consequences. They cast aspersions on critics — Marco Rubio is denounced as an “idiot” for his skepticism — as being unscientific, as if economics were not a science, and as if the anti-industrial/anti-capitalist biases of the global warming crowd were not apparent.