Sunday, February 21, 2010

Flooding vs climate change: Where are the flooding skeptics?

Another day, another misinformation-packed op-ed column from George Will. I suspect the debunkings of Will again will occur, though because this time he re-hashes so much and he utterly ignores facts maybe there will not be as much activity.

What is interesting to me today in the Herald is that just below Will's column is an editorial from Mike Jacobs that says, "Flooding is imminent. Something must be done long-term." Replace "flooding" with "global warming", and the statement is just as true. People who deny climate change is occurring at all or that it is currently mostly a result of human activities or claim we cannot afford to take action because of costs - why do they not dispute flooding or try to derail action against flooding by calling it too costly? Where are the flooding skeptics?

Here is a twirl through the sorts of bad logic supposed "climate change skeptics" use but applying them to flooding.

No warming

It is commonly claimed that there has been no warming for the last 7, 9, 11, 8, years. The latest in this vein, which Will latched onto in his column, is claiming no warming in the last 15 years. Well, Grand Forks airport had it warmest temperatures of the year in mid-January! Why are there no cries against the alarmist predictions of flooding citing the lack of warming in the past many weeks? Why are there not "skeptical" declarations that there will not even be a melt season because it is not warming?

Not the right cause

Many who do accept recent warming look for any explanation that does not involve human activities. What better excuse to not do anything about climate change that to say it is simply natural? Thus a lot of people grab any scrap they think points to human activity being off the hook as a cause of climate change - "it's the sun", "it's cosmic rays", "it's just a natural cycle", it's ocean cycles, etc. Why are there not claims that we do not actually understand why flooding occurs in the Red River Valley? Is there no one to call snowpack, soil moisture, and runoff scientific mumbo-jumbo and suggesting that the waters just rise up from beneath the surface, perhaps because of local wickedness?

Too costly and too much government

With or without explicitly questioning the science, another common theme is fear-mongering about big government and the financial cost of action. Why are there not the same protests of costs, higher taxes, and faceless bureaucrats in the discussion about the more than $1 billion plans for flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead? Where are the complaints about lost jobs and economic suffering?

Well, actually maybe there is some of that. Dilworth does not want the Minnesota diversion option because of what it could cost the city, especially in future growth. Might we be close to TEA party platform planks opposing massive government flood control like cap-and-trade is opposed?

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