You’d Better Watch Out, You’d Better Beware…Sea Level Rise is coming to town (part 2 of 3)

If you want to see what Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist from Texas Tech being paid by the state to “prove” that Delaware is suffering from the threat of sea level rise due to man-made causes, is up to, she has a presentation she recently provided to the state confirming the conclusion they already had: humans are causing the Arctic Ice caps to melt which will flood Delaware’s shore line and fundamentally alter its temperature and we need drastic action to reduce our own human-caused influence on society.

Some notes taken from the 1 hour 7 minute presentation by Dr. Hayhoe:

“Shared Socio-Economic Pathways”- (c.25:00) are discussed as necessary to resolve our energy and environmental issues: What are these? From the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis:

“define five possible paths that human societies could follow over the next century. The pathways are part of a new cooperative research framework that is expected to improve interdisciplinary analysis and assessment of climate change, its impacts, and the options societies have for mitigation and adaptation.”

The five narratives are:

  • SSP1 (Sustainability). A world making relatively good progress toward sustainability, with ongoing efforts to achieve development goals while reducing resource intensity and fossil fuel dependency. It is an environmentally aware world with rapid technology development, and strong economic growth, even in low-income countries.
  • SSP2 (Middle of the road). This “business-as-usual” world sees the trends typical of recent decades continuing, with some progress toward achieving development goals. Dependency on fossil fuels is slowing decreasing. Development of low-income countries proceeds unevenly.
  • SSP3 (Fragmentation). A world that is separated into regions characterized by extreme poverty, pockets of moderate wealth, and a large number of countries struggling to maintain living standards for a rapidly growing population.
  • SSP4 (Inequality). A highly unequal world in which a relatively small, rich global elite is responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions, while a larger, poor group that is vulnerable to the impact of climate changes, contributes little to the harmful emissions. Mitigation efforts are low and adaptation is difficult due to ineffective institutions and the low income of the large poor population.
  • SSP5 (Conventional Development). A world in which conventional development oriented toward economic growth as the solution to social and economic problems. Rapid conventional development leads to an energy system dominated by fossil fuels, resulting in high greenhouse gas emissions and challenges to mitigation.

Question to think about: What does the analysis of the “five socio-economic paths” as shown above represent to you?

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Wilmington average temperature: predicted to be 5 degrees F higher in 2100 than lowest estimate. Apparently by 2060 temperatures will really rise. Emissions spiked 3% during the last decade (who was president?)

“There’s no way I could ever hope to tell you what’s going to happen on July 18, 2064″  But I could make a respectable guess over the averages over 2060-2080 or 2090 under a given scenario of human emissions. Climate sensitivity is unknown but we can use models which cover a range of values.”

“Climate models are imperfect.” Acknowledgement that climate models cannot account for significant variations in weather.

Believes Delaware is warming and cold nights were becoming less frequent. This year would have to be an anomaly then because we are in the middle of a cold wave.

Negative effects of global warming: tourism will decrease because we will have reduced time outdoors due to heat and a massive UV index increase,  warping rail lines and buckling highways, longer growing seasons but ones which do not ward off insects and parasites, an energy grid overload, and an increase in health risks from heat waves (does not address what colder weather would do)

Annual precipitation predicted to increase.  Delaware’s precipitation is uncertain because the models vary on where the “line” of precipitation is and Delaware is right on the line. Days with 1+ inches of precipitation: could go from 1-2 days per year from 2020-2039 to possibly 2-3 days at “worst” scenario by 2080-2099. Conclusion: same or slightly more snowfall/rainfall in winter means flooding, rainfall in summer coupled with high evaporation means lower lake and river water levels.

Heavy precipitation means more flooding and storm water damage to property.

“A certain amount of climate change can be avoided under a lower (predicted) scenario.”

“temperatures in every season are already getting warmer. “Smart Planning” can help reduce the impact.”

Incorporate climate change into every aspect of policy.

57 minute mark: unidentified male wonders how we can mislead public about “climate change”. “We’ve been operating under the assumption that facts are enough and one thing we know for sure is that facts are not enough and social science research tells us that with everything.” (59:30)

Question about Newark Data Center power plant burning natural gas to power data center. “Tragedy of the commons” due to all total fossil fuel burning around the world. Dr. Hayhoe clearly opposes natural gas. Compares natural gas use to smoking cigarettes: sooner or later you have to stop. Just one more (natural gas) plant, just one more cigarette.”

Methane emissions must be contained. increased methane from continental shelves, which is 25x more effective as a heat trapping gas than CO2.

Reservoirs of methane in those shelves….fossil fuel companies know that and have a plan to get it.

Humans have so damaged the planet even if everyone died and aliens came 5000 years from now our “damage” will still be visible.

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The bottom line is that Dr. Hayhoe provided the audience with the most extreme weather scenarios and also acknowledged that the computer models were not perfect and could not guarantee accuracy. They use static data points to predict future weather, which would mean the general trend was going up. At the end of the day, CRI is disappointed that DNREC and the state will use data which is disputed by Dr. Legates to advance an agenda which will target “dirty” manufacturers and land developers, particularly downstate with unsubstantiated data. In part 3 we will conclude this series with a return to the Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee notes released to the public, who can already see where we are headed.

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You’d Better Watch Out, You’d Better Beware…Sea Level Rise is coming to town (part 1 of 3)

Just yesterday the Sea Level Rise (SLR) Advisory Committee came out with its updated report, suggesting Delaware could have between 1.6-4.9 feet of sea level rise on Delaware’s shores by the end of this century. At those predictions most of Sussex and eastern Kent County will be underwater. Needless to say, the amount of flooding “expected” will impact property owners and businesspeople downstate. Here are some of the comments submitted by the committee. Ones of particular note are in bold.

“Sussex County seems to be extremely backwards, with little ideas about science”

“Sussex County Council is an ignorant bunch. The Council… has never met a developer it doesn’t like”.

“Wait to see what happens” and “How will you implement retreat?” and “How much brainwashing do we need?” (thoughts on who would have said this)
Very Worried about insurance, both homeowner policy and FEMA”

“Local communities are essential in supporting anything you (state government) try to do. Getting them to support any initiatives is key.”

“SLR Statements included in all property sales/leases.”

“Signage in high risk areas and outreach!”

“1% hotel tax on tourism. Carbon tax is most fair.”

“Make sure someone from Sussex County Tourism is on the Advisory Committee…to combat the tears that will emerge from this discussion.”

“Giving DNREC authority to regulate development with a 100 year flood plan”

“New authority for DNREC to…manage…new lands”

“Developers should pay through permit/consultation fees”

“Provide timely consultation, set permit fees high enough especially for business/developers to sustain program.”

“I do not see much private sector involvement”

“This (SLR) seems like an insurable risk. Can a public insurance pool be set up, funded from land taxes and development permits?”

“To whom does the SLR committee report (good question)? I suggest either the governor or the committee of the state legislature.”

one committeemenber proposed a package of tax increases with more local control over how SLR actions are handled and paid for.

“We need to restrict development in sensitive areas before they start,

“I think it is only honest and fair to warn new homebuyer’s of the property’s potential future vulnerability. The potential future risk of sea level rise should be disclosed in the Delaware seller’s disclosure of real property condition report.”

“SLR predictions should be figured into…business development plans.”

“prohibit development in areas that will be flooding with SLR.”

“providing as much technical resources to businesses, industries. Land management is a critical role for the state.”

“I don’t believe public money should be used for replenishment of private beaches.”

One partially illegible comment suggested better engineering of dikes.

“Partnerships with consultants should be included. Consultants offer a wealth of expertise.”

“Most presentations suggest SLR is coming or just arrived.  Show people what damage it has caused over the past 100 years.”

“County ordinances which take care of land use in unincorporated areas.”

“Provide SLR planning to local governments…especially target Wilmington.”

“It would be helpful to have a cost estimate: Abandon, buyout, move. With some rough dollar number for the extreme we can evaluate other plans.”

The question is, what does all of this mean? From these statements, which are full quotes from unidentified names (blacked out in the document), there is a pattern which emerges: the government, possibly DNREC, should be allowed to levy taxes on landowners and land developers in Sussex County to pay for the sea level rise actions. Landowners in all three counties, but especially in Sussex and parts of Kent, will need to advise potential buyers that the property is in a “flood zone”-and the government should have the ability to either tell the potential buyers or make the landowners do so. The next step then is to decide how badly “SLR” will “devastate” Delaware’s shoreline.

Next week we will show more information obtained from these documents and explain what it means to you.

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