[Coral-List] La Nina and global warming

David M. Lawrence dave at fuzzo.com
Fri Nov 12 11:31:53 EST 2010

Sea-level rise hysteria?  C'mon, Gene.  It's one thing for groups of 
hunter-gatherers to pack up and move inland.  It's another thing for 
civilizations with trillions of dollars of property, infrastructure, and 
hazardous wastes sites along the shore to to the same.

Climate folks know the Earth's climate has changed throughout its 
history, too.  But most of us trained in climate don't make the mistake 
of assuming the geological strata you study tell us the whole story 
about the effects of those changes on the generations of organisms that 
lived through them, either.  Most of the victims don't appear in the 
fossil record.


On 11/11/2010 12:49 PM, Eugene Shinn wrote:
>        The coral-list had been getting fairly dull with all those
> advertisements for environmental management jobs. I thought it was
> time for some excitement and nothing seems to stir the neurons like a
> little climate change poking.
>       Its good to see that people still have trust in their government
> agencies and believe their published temperature numbers even if some
> may be tainted by "urban heat islands" or "climate gates." Of course
> we can rest assured the numbers have been adjusted for all that. By
> now list readers should know it is difficult to get geologists overly
> wound up over climate change. They know it's been changing back and
> forth since the beginning of time. The story is written in stone and
> deep sea mud. The same is also true for sea level, which at times has
> been higher than the statue of liberty and not long ago about 400 ft
> below present. Before that it fluctuated up and down about 4 times
> after being 6 to 8 meters above present level. That higher level was
> during what we call the Pleistocene, or "ice ages." The sea had to be
> that high so that the coral reef that is now the Florida Keys could
> grow.
>        Seriously, we all know sea level has been rising for the past
> 18,000 years and according to tide gauge data sea level at Key West
> came up roughly one foot in the past 100 years! Is there any
> scientific reason why it should stop short of its last high stand? In
> 1991 Lidz and Shinn published a peer reviewed paper on sea level
> change in the Florida Keys. (Lidz, B.H., and Shinn, E.A., 1991,
> Paleoshorelines, Reefs, at a Rising Sea (South Florida), Journal of
> Coastal Research v. 7, no. 1, p. 203-229.) In that publication we
> documented the Holocene rise in sea level and demonstrated that with
> a continued rise of only 1 meter 75% of the Florida Keys would be
> under water. No one paid any attention. But that was before sea level
> rise hysteria reached its present level. Back then in pre IPCC times
> we were just doing basic geological science without the influence of
> politics.
>       As for the Scientific American magazine poll, I have not read one
> in a long time but I think we can rest assured it is not on the Tea
> Party reading list. As for Steve's tirade against polls I certainly
> agree they are almost always skewed one way or the other. I never saw
> one that was not self-serving or asking the significant questions.
> They remind me of: "When did you stop beating your dog? A) Monday, B)
> Tuesday or C) never." Nevertheless, readers of that magazine are not
> dummies.
>       The interesting and revealing question related to science and
> politics was questioned by Ed Blume who wrote, "The most troubling
> response in the survey: 67% of the respondents want to keep science
> out of the political process.  I take that to mean that two-thirds of
> the respondents want our governments to make decisions without
> consideration of scientific inquiry and conclusions." I could ask,
> how many in congress do you think are capable of understanding
> science? My observation has been that they mainly like scientific
> results when they support what they already intend to do. Thus,
> science can get skewed when they dump money on projects that will
> support what they want. Climate change may be a good example because
> a lot of rich people will get richer on that issue. Want to buy some
> carbon credits?
>        Many of us older types come from a long-standing culture that
> says science should be pure and not influenced by politicians,
> kind-of-like separation of religion and government. The agency where
> I spent 31 years had existed for well over a century because it stuck
> to the science and was seldom accused of bias. That agency produced
> hard data that could be used by people on both sides of the political
> aisle. I found that out when I spent 10-years installing monitoring
> wells and chasing underground sewage in the Florida Keys. On the
> other hand, some youthful agencies bend with the political climate or
> even help shape it. That's a sure way to get congressional funding
> and enlarge an agency when the climate is right but it can shoot you
> in the foot when the political winds change. Back when we published
> the paleoshorelines study it was basic science and people can still
> use that data as they choose.
>        The winds have changed recently, and we can only hope our
> science will weather the new and evolving political climate. Gene

  David M. Lawrence        | Home:  (804) 559-9786
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