Climate Craziness of the Week: Harvard’s McElroy: ‘Bridges may be in the wrong place’ for climate change

This flooding would never have been so bad if that bridge wasn’t in the wrong place. It probably shouldn’t cross the river. /sarc Photo from NOAA/NWS Paducah, KY WSFO http://www.crh.noaa.gov/pah/hydro/rainfall/jan05flood.php

From Harvard University , where you can’t tell them much, comes this laughable press release. I loved this line “Bridges may be in the wrong place“. Then the author, Michael McElroy, goes on to connect the long debunked “climate change caused the Arab Spring uprising”, when it was actually local politics and food prices resulting from those politics caused it.  The stupid, it burns like a supernova in this article which is chock full of coulds, maybes, and might be’s.  And, get this line:

“We don’t have definitive answers, but our report raises these questions, because what we are saying is that these conditions are likely to be more normal than they were in the past,”

Wait, what? Gosh, now there’s a headline: Future to be more normal, film at 11. – Anthony

Weather warning

Study examines climate change as a national security issue

A Harvard researcher is pointing toward a new reason to worry about the effects of climate change — national security.

A new report co-authored by Michael McElroy, the Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies, and D. James Baker, a former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, connects global climate change, extreme weather, and national security. During the next decade, the report concludes, climate change could have wide-reaching effects on everything from food, water, and energy supplies to critical infrastructure and economic security.

The study was conducted with funds provided by the Central Intelligence Agency. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the CIA or the U.S. government.

“Over the last century, the trend has been toward urbanization — to concentrate people in smaller areas,” McElroy said. “We’ve built an infrastructure — whether it’s where we build our homes or where we put our roads and bridges — that fits with that trend. If the weather pattern suddenly changes in a serious way, it could create very large problems. Bridges may be in the wrong place, or sea walls may not be high enough.”

Possible effects on critical infrastructure, however, only scratch the surface of the security concerns.

On an international scale, the report points to recent events, such as flooding in Pakistan and sustained drought in eastern Africa, that may be tied to changing weather patterns. How the United States responds to such disasters — whether by delivering humanitarian aid or through technical support — could affect security.

“By recognizing the immediacy of these risks, the U.S. can enhance its own security and help other countries do a better job of preparing for and coping with near-term climate extremes,” Baker said.

The report suggests that climate changes could even have long-reaching political effects.

It’s possible, McElroy said, that climate changes may have contributed to the uprisings of the Arab Spring by causing a rise in food prices, or that the extended drought in northern Mexico has contributed to political instability and a rise in drug trafficking in the region.

Michael B. McElroy

“We don’t have definitive answers, but our report raises these questions, because what we are saying is that these conditions are likely to be more normal than they were in the past,” McElroy said. “There are also questions related to sea-level rise. The conventional wisdom is that sea level is rising by a small amount, but observations show it’s rising about twice as fast as the models suggested. Could it actually go up by a large amount in a short period? I don’t think you can rule that out.”

Other potential effects, McElroy said, are tied to changes in an atmospheric circulation pattern called the Hadley circulation, in which warm tropical air rises, resulting in tropical rains. As the air moves to higher latitudes, it descends, causing the now-dry air to heat up. Regions where the hot, dry air returns to the surface are typically dominated by desert.

The problem, he said, is that evidence shows those arid regions are expanding.

“The observational data suggest that the Hadley circulation has expanded by several degrees in latitude,” McElroy said. “That’s a big deal, because if you shift where deserts are by just a few degrees, you’re talking about moving the southwestern desert into the grain-producing region of the country, or moving the Sahara into southern Europe.”

The report is the result of the authors’ involvement with Medea, a group of scientists who support the U.S. government by examining declassified national security data useful for scientific inquiry. In recent decades, the group has worked with officials in the United States and Russia to declassify data on climatic conditions in the Arctic and thousands of spy satellite images. Those images have been used to study ancient settlement patterns in the Middle East and changes in Arctic ice.

“I would be reluctant to say that our report is the last word on short-term climate change,” McElroy said. “Climate change is a moving target. We’ve done an honest, useful assessment of the state of play today, but we will need more information and more hard work to get it right. One of the recommendations in our report is the need for a serious investment in measurement and observation. It’s really important to keep doing that, otherwise we’re going to be flying blind.”

###

To read the full report, visit: http://environment.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/climate_extremes_report_2012-12-04.pdf

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62 thoughts on “Climate Craziness of the Week: Harvard’s McElroy: ‘Bridges may be in the wrong place’ for climate change

  1. “I would be reluctant to say that our report is the last word on short-term climate change,”
    -AKA the weather??

  2. You’d think they’d welcome the desertification of So. Europe, I mean those darned Greeks and Romans were the source of the global parasite that is Western Civilization. And all those nice Islamofascist people can have a vast pasture rather than the Saharah desert. Think of all the nothing useful they can produce with all that ariable land.

  3. Great now Obama will decree that all rivers shall flow uphill and have the regulators fine all States where reality contradicts his wisdom?

  4. As you say “Teh Stupid, It Burns” Certainly Australians are no fan of an energy tax imposed on them against their will ( reporting resistance is verboten ). And one unbelievable consequence of carbon sequestration flogging is shutting down of farms. http://www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au/carbon-farming-helps-australian-agriculture-power-ahead/ Sidebar to that is interesting when one thinks of G Dubya Bush’s vacation antics in Texas : it seems brushing is penalized in both Australia and the U.S. on the basis of sequestration concerns : so there are no firebreaks and homes are lost. But that’s caused by global warming causing drought. Yikes.

  5. The battleground has really moved, from:

    CO2 ==> Global warming
    to:
    CO2 ==> Extreme weather
    to:
    CO2 ==> Weird Stuff

    where “Weird Stuff” is almost anything outside of the very recent normal.

    It reached the point where I think the main effect can be summarized thus:

    CO2 ==> Crazy research grant seekers, politicians, and journalists.

  6. If the weather pattern suddenly changes in a serious way, it could create very large problems. Bridges may be in the wrong place, or sea walls may not be high enough.”

    He’s right you know — as the converse is equally true…

    …and on the other hand there’s four fingers and a thumb. ‘Struth yah know. I swear there’s more like him every day — and getting greener!

  7. Anthony writes: “the author goes on to connect the long debunked “climate change caused the Arab Spring uprising”, when it was actually local politics and food prices resulting from those politics caused it.’ [This sentence could use a re-write]

    While this is true, particularly in Tunisia, you can’t discount the affect of a once-omnipotent Arab despot being deposed and hanged in Iraq and replaced by something resembling a representative freely-elected, democratic government.

    The world-wide economic downturn also played a part.

  8. “Over the last century, the trend has been toward urbanization — to concentrate people in smaller areas,” McElroy said. “We’ve built an infrastructure — whether it’s where we build our homes or where we put our roads and bridges — that fits with that trend. If the weather pattern suddenly changes in a serious way, it could create very large problems. Bridges may be in the wrong place, or sea walls may not be high enough.”

    I will say that run off has increased due to more and more of the land being covered by buildings and roads. Less open ground available to soak up rain water. Cramming more houses on ever smaller lot sizes increases this problem.
    More runoff means streams and rivers rise faster and also more flash floods. Ground water tables are not replenished as much since so much of the rain water is lost only to flow into the oceans.
    There are several areas in my city that never had a problem with flash flooding before they were overdeveloped. After the city allowed these areas to be covered with houses the city had a bond election to pay for flood control. So every person in town paid to fix something that a few people in charge caused.

  9. “or that the extended drought in northern Mexico has contributed to political instability and a rise in drug trafficking in the region.”

    Bwahahaha…

    Now this guy is one talented salesman..

  10. “I would be reluctant to say that our report is the last word on short-term climate change,” McElroy said.
    My my, such modesty. By “short-term climate change”, I guess they mean “weather”.
    “Climate change is a moving target.” Yes, which requires constant changing of the rules and moving goalposts. We’ve noticed.
    “We’ve done an honest, useful assessment of the state of play today, but we will need more information and more hard work to get it right.”
    Honest and useful? I guess, if you can call chock full of disinformation and pseudoscience honest and useful.
    More information and more hard work? Yes, I suppose digging up and spewing non-science garbage could be called “hard work”.
    It’s hard to say what they want to “get right” exactly. Certainly not the science, because that isn’t what they are doing.
    These sorts of “studies” do seem to be more normal than they used to be.

  11. Myron Mesecke at 12:31: while that is true, it’s also true that much of the eastern half of the US has re-forested itself, due to the decline of farming. In the second half of the 19th century, most of this area was cleared farmland. Now the forest has come back, which tends to have the opposite effect of paving and development as it relates to flooding and so forth.

    What you are describing happened to my town in central NJ in the 60s. But you couldn’t really blame local government because the problem was not fully understood and people’s right to do what they wanted with their property was respected.

  12. Old Version
    Give me a lever and I will move the world.
    -Archimedes

    New Version
    Give me money and I will say and “prove” anything you want.
    -Post-modern “Scientist”

  13. Hurry, I must invest all my money in floating bridges… the only solution to badly positioned bridges. I must also invest in floating roads and floating cars. If I have a bit of money left I can invest in flying-pig farms too…

    Anthony, you should rename the column “Climate Crazies” or “Climate Nuts”.

  14. Anthony,

    I couldnt find an email so posted this here for you. Please watch both videos since it is pertinent to water and cloud formation..
    GERALD POLLACK: Electrically Structured Water, Part 1

    part 2

  15. I love that line… “we will need more information and more hard work to get it right. One of the recommendations in our report is the need for a serious investment in measurement and observation.”

  16. From the above I read the following:

    Study examines climate change as a national security issue
    …………………………………..
    The study was conducted with funds provided by the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Then it sends me back to memory lane. Here it is again, old school, 1974. An earlier report carried out for the CIA‘s Office of Research and Development.

    We must act now before it’s too late.

    1974
    A Study of Climatological Research as it Pertains to Intelligence Problems

    “The western world’s leading climatologists have confirmed recent reports of a detrimental global climate change. The stability of most nations is based upon a dependable source of food, but this stability will not be possible under the new climatic era. A forecast by the University of Wisconsin projects that the earth’s climate is returning to that of the neo-boreal era (1600- 1850) – an era of drought, famine and political unrest in the western world.

    Climate has not been a prime consideration of intelligence analysis because, until recently, it has not caused any significant perturbations to the status of major nations. This is so because during 50 of the last 60 years the Earth has, on the average, enjoyed the best agricultural climate since the eleventh century. An early twentieth century world food surplus hindered US efforts to maintain and equalise farm production and incomes.”

    “The University of Wisconsin was the first accredited academic center to forecast that a major global climatic change was underway. Their analysis of the Icelandic temperature data, which they contend has historically been a bellwether for northern hemisphere climatic conditions, indicated that the world was returning to the type of climate which prevailed during the first part of the last century.” “Their “Food for Thought” chart (Figure 7) conveys some idea of the enormity of the problem and the precarious state in which most of the world’s nations could find themselves if the Wisconsin forecast is correct.”

    http://www.climatemonitor.it/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/1974.pdf

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/25/the-cia-documents-the-global-cooling-research-of-the-1970s/

    http://omnologos.com/world-exclusive-cia-1974-document-reveals-emptiness-of-agw-scares-closes-debate-on-global-cooling-consensus-and-more-2/

  17. “During the next decade, the report concludes, climate change could have wide-reaching effects on everything from food, water, and energy supplies to critical infrastructure and economic security.”

    *

    What could have wide-reaching effects on food, water, and energy supplies to critical infrastructure and economic security are the POLICIES of climate change, not climate change itself. Anyway, he means global warming, lest they forget.

  18. Hey, even Harvard researchers need to eat and get pubs counted. Just take out all the bridges and save all kinds of carbon emissions.

  19. The conventional wisdom is that sea level is rising by a small amount, but observations show it’s rising about twice as fast as the models suggested.

    Where are these observations?

    The problem, he said, is that evidence shows those arid regions are expanding.

    He must be referring to the greening of the Sahel and the Sahara or the 2011 Namibian heaviest floods ever where more rain fell in one day than in a typical year.

  20. “or that the extended drought in northern Mexico has contributed to political instability and a rise in drug trafficking in the region.”

    What has the extended drought got to do with co2? Will drug trafficking decline with more rain? Should droughts be just a thing of the past? What a load of utter horse poop.

  21. ” … but we will need more information and more hard work to get it right.”

    Please send MORE money. But wait, that’s not all >

    “One of the recommendations in our report is the need for a serious investment in measurement and observation. It’s really important to keep doing that, otherwise we’re going to be flying blind.”

    Please send LOTS more money. And keep the money coming, or else we’re flying blind.

    Really, could they be more obvious if they tried harder?

  22. Why are most readers of this blog so ready to ridicule out-of-the-box thinking? Michael McElroy is, if anything, a bit behind the times. When London Bridge was in London it was vulnerable to storm surges coming up the Thames estuary and we all know (don’t we?) that global warming will make storm surges more common (after all it is responsible for almost everything). However,
    in 1967 London Bridge was dismantled and re-erected in 1971 in a place where it is completely safe from storm surges – Arizona!

    London Bridge (Lake Havasu City)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Bridge_(Lake_Havasu_City)

    Our civil engineers ought to follow this precedent and start moving all important bridges to locations where we know they will be safe from the effects of global warming!

  23. Lil Fella from OZ says:
    February 20, 2013 at 1:36 pm
    “Does money create madness in science? ”

    In a manner of speaking yes it does.
    People like this get addicted to their fix of money. They will do almost anything to maintain their lifestyle (Harvard Profs make huge $$s for teach two or three classes). Anything includes incredible rationalizations – even bending reality to maintain their current situation.

  24. “We’ve done an honest, useful assessment of the state of play today, but we will need more information and more hard work to get it right.”

    Translation: “Send more money.”

  25. Great picture. Looks like the bridge over the Skookumchuck river in Washington State. Gee, I miss the slugs and gray skies.

  26. Jimbo’s comment says it all. CIA funding, “national security” issue, that’s what it’s all pretending to be about…

  27. “We’ve done an honest, useful assessment of the state of play today”

    Honest = I’m actually stupid enough to believe all this crap.

    Useful = I hope my political masters approve and I get more grant money.

  28. ….but we will need more information and more hard work to get it right. One of the recommendations in our report is the need for a serious investment in measurement and observation. It’s really important to keep doing that…….”

    Please send much more money and keep it sustained, we have families to feed you suckersssss.

  29. The CIA paid for this???
    Post-normal is the new normal and those that control the language control the normal. This double-speak In truly Orwellian, the future is language and torturing the language defines the future.
    Im surprised that the report failed to mention that the British built Iraq in the wrong place too and Iran oh and Israel and Somalia and……….not climate change, just ideology and politics.

  30. { measurement and observation }

    I measured their paper and it took up about 13 screen inches on my laptop. I measured the time it took to read it and it was about 25 seconds.I observed not one shred of intelligence in the whole darn thing.

  31. Here is what worries me…if CAGW is now a “national seurity” issue, those FOIs are going to be much harder to come by (not that they aren’t ridiculous now)

  32. The link attached to the bridge picture takes you to a completely different bridge ….
    The bridge in the picture looks ok to me. If it was closed, for how long? A few hours?
    Most higher clearance vehicles could cross it. Judging by the apparent absence of turbulence, it doesn’t appear to be acting as a dam. The approach carriageways are well above the water level. Raising this bridge would make no difference, as a higher flood would take out the approaches.
    Some of these alarmists need to understand Limit State Design. You don’t design for the most extreme possible event, otherwise you simply can’t build the road, bridge, dwelling, town, whatever. You pick a point that is reasonable on the basis of average return interval, eg statistical probability, 1 in 50 or 100 years – not 1 in 500 years. On reflection, maybe some of them do understand. Push the LSD up far enough and nobody gets to build anything anywhere.

  33. Michael McElroy says:
    “We don’t have definitive answers…”

    Stop right there… and you’re absolutely correct!

  34. Looks like the CIA has a new mission. Agents can go out with wristwatch-sized weather stations and report back from exotic locations. Analysts can input millions of bits of information about anything bad (e.g. some foreign leader’s ingrown toenail) and determine how it was caused by climate change using complex algorithms. Mostly they will need to keep tabs on the countries soon to be tropical paradises like Iceland, Nepal, Mongolia, etc and make sure the local politics is amenable to the enormous influxes of future climate refugees.

  35. Keep your eyes on Costa Rica: we can help with bridges. With the most Bailey bridges per capita, we know how to stretch the life-span of these convenient and ‘temporary’ fixes. Currently, thirty years may be the limit.

  36. “One of the recommendations in our report is the need for a serious investment in measurement and observation. It’s really important to keep doing that, otherwise we’re going to be flying blind.”
    ============
    Kinda like when the wolf pack has one surrounded ?

  37. “Climate change is a moving target…” must be the best line. He didn’t get the memo that the target has been moved to “climate disruption”. The target moves so fast the apparatchiks can’t keep up!

  38. Lil Fella from OZ says:
    February 20, 2013 at 1:36 pm
    “Does money create madness in science? Where do these people get off (or on)!”

    Yes. The more the money, the more the madness.

  39. Its not the birdges that are in the wrong place, its the water… Agree totally with the previous comments on over development. this is also compounded with town planners ‘cutting corners'; i.e. not putting in the recommended size of storm drain to deal with the 1 in 100 year floods and then acting all surprized when it backs up…

    Also in Australia we have restrictions on when a dam can be put in – usually its completely banned in favour of a small undersized tank that just collects the roof rain water. Funny thing in Australia is it either hardly ever rains or rains alot of days.. Town planners do not plan, they just knee jerk to the latest fad and stop people managing their own lands and learning from others.

  40. The crazy climate cult has really been amping up their propaganda push the last few days – its sort of like a climate change battle of the bulge – Adolph Gore must have ordered a climate blitzkrieg.

  41. “Study examines climate change as a national security issue”

    Surely with sea level rise of 20 metres there will be less nation to make secure, so every body a winner ;-)

  42. This fool is a problem for national security and he is under written by the C.I.A. are you breeding these idiots in America on purpose?

  43. “Bridges may be in the wrong place”

    This reminds me of a story I once heard about the Great Western Railway.

    A weary traveller alighted from a late night train and asked for directions to the town centre. The porter told him that it was about 4 miles away. The traveller, astonished, asked why the GWR hadn’t built the station near to the town, to which the porter replied “We thought of doing that but eventually decided that it would be better if we put it near the railway”.

  44. I live on a road with two bridges over creeks that flood over the bridges routinely. Ten years ago they turned this dirt road into a paved road. They cut the hill down in front of my property by a good six feet but did they raise the part of the road that flooded most springs? NOOOOoooo. So now we have a road that crumbles into asphalt platters routinely thereby providing guaranteed jobs for the DPW.

    At the time it was being paved I asked the crew foreman if the dirt from my farm was going to be used to raise the road above the flood zones of the creeks and was told no it was going to be sold instead. GRRRrrr. I and my neighbors would rather have seen the funds spent on raising the flood prone areas and leaving the road graveled instead.

    Planned future employment anyone?

  45. In the US we have a Bill of Rights. These rights can be suspended by Marshall Law.
    Marshall Law can be invoked If threats to National Security exist.
    Get ready for the Army to reset your thermostat.

  46. wayne Job says:
    February 21, 2013 at 1:02 am
    “This fool is a problem for national security and he is under written by the C.I.A. are you breeding these idiots in America on purpose?”
    Wayne, If only they were idiots. The CAGW zealots are extremely clever and extremely socialist/progressive.
    They create their “useful Idiots” (52% of the US electorate). Through blatant scare-mongering propaganda such as this “study”.
    Snakes in the grass, All of ‘em.

  47. just ideology and politics.

    crosspatch says:

    February 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    These people are banking on the fact that the majority of the population are idiots, aren’t they?
    ********************
    Well as Winston said ” A five minute talk with the average voter is an argument against democracy”

  48. It is impossible to rule out the likelihood that in the future I could become the world’s richest and most handsomest man. (A helluva lot of other men would have to die first but that’s just conventional wisdom.)

  49. crosspatch says:
    February 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    These people are banking on the fact that the majority of the population are idiots, aren’t they?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is why John Dewey experimentally determined the best way to derail independent thinking using ‘Progressive Education’

    Dumbing Down America by Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld
    Dewey created his famous experimental Laboratory School where he could test the effects of the new psychology on real live children.

    Dewey’s philosophy had evolved from Hegelian idealism to socialist materialism, and the purpose of the school was to show how education could be changed to produce little socialists and collectivists instead of little capitalists and individualists. It was expected that these little socialists, when they became voting adults, would dutifully change the American economic system into a socialist one.

    The latest twist is declaring our gifted students who are bored to tears with the dumbed down progressive education system as ADD and drugging children as young as 4. These drugs are alleged to have serious side effects including hallucinations, aggressiveness, hypertension, seizures, convulsions, stunted growth rate and brain damage. link 1 and link 2 and link 3 and link 4

    In 2005, the Center for Disease Control released a report stating that 4.4 million children aged 4 to 17 years had been diagnosed with ADHD. Of those cases, 2.5 million (56 percent) were taking medication for the disorder….roughly 10 percent of children in the United States [are] estimated to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)… ADHD is classified as a mental disorder.

    Born to Explore! The Other Side of ADD

    Gifted children and adults are at high risk for being identified as ADD. Most people, including most medical professionals, do not realize giftedness is often associated with the following behaviors… As a result, many gifted children these days are being medicated for a brain defect they probably don’t have.

    The “gifted” are supposed to be model students, teaching themselves how to spell and perfect their grammar, win spelling bees, have perfect social skills and become neurosurgeons. This is true of SOME gifted children and adults. Many others, however, act out and space out in boring school settings, and their increasing anger and frustration may lead to oppositional behavior and underachievement. They may have sloppy handwriting because of fast thought processes, miss details, and be unorganized and forgetful. Gifted adults are not always easy to spot, either. They are housewives, teachers, and carpenters, and they may not even realize they are gifted. Some even believe they are stupid.

    There is some evidence that as many as half of all kids with IQs above 130 get below average grades, and in one study 13% of high school drop outs were gifted. In another study, a full 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD tested so high in creativity tests they qualified for state scholarships. I recently spoke with a consultant for the gifted who said about half of the gifted boys referred to her had been told they were probably ADD. Complicating matters is the uneven types of intelligence many people have. People labeled ADD often have a “visual/spatial” type of intelligence that confuses many teachers and parents. They might have trouble reading or spelling but have outstanding abstract reasoning abilities and become bored very quickly in traditional schools.

    Proponents of the gifted assert that it is usually problems with the school environment that are to blame for behavior problems and underachievement, not any problem with the child.

  50. Heh. Jimbo had it right. In his post of 12:54 pm he cites
    a 1974 CIA-funded study that basically boils down to:

    “OMG! A new ice age (cooling) is starting! There will be widespread famine, drought
    and political instability
    !”

    And now, we have a 2013 CIA-funded study that basically
    boils down to:

    “OMG! Man-made climate change (warming) is causing widespread famine,
    drought, and political instability
    ! In addition, floods! Infrastructure in the
    wrong place! Rising sea levels! Desertification!”

    Give them credit, though–in 40 years, they have learned to throw in extra potential
    disasters, tied to the exact opposite of what was supposed be causing the same
    disasters 40 years ago.

  51. Yeah, I can see it. The Golden Gate bridge should have been built in Mississippi and the Brooklyn Bridge in North Carolina. Do these guys have any idea why a bridge is built in the first place?

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