Science vs AGW Advocacy in North Carolina

English: State seal of North Carolina

State seal of North Carolina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UPDATE: The bill has passed – see here

Guest post by John Droz, Jr.

What’s been happening recently in North Carolina (NC) is a microcosm of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) story: politics vs science, ad-hominems vs journalism, evangelists vs pragmatists, etc.

The contentiousness is over one of the main AGW battlefields: sea level rise (SLR). NC happens to have a large amount of coast line, and has become the US epicenter for this issue.

The brief version is that this began several years ago when a state agency (Coastal Resource Commission: CRC) selected a 20± member “science panel” to do a scientific assessment of the NC SLR situation through 2100. This could have been a very useful project if there had been balance in the personnel selections, and the panel’s assessment adhered to scientific standards. Regrettably neither happened and the project soon jumped the rails, landing into the political agenda ditch.

In their 2010 report the panel concluded that NC should expect a 39 inch SLR by 2100. Their case was built around a 2007 paper by Stefan Rahmstorf, and was not encumbered by a single reference to a perspective different from Rahmstorf’s. Shortly after the report was released, state agencies started making the rounds of NC coastal communities, putting them on notice that they would need to make BIG changes (elevating roads and bridges, rezoning property, changing flood maps for insurance purposes, etc.).

As an independent scientist, I was solicited by my coastal county to provide a scientific perspective on this report. Even though I wasn’t a SLR expert, I could clearly see that this document was a classic case of Confirmation Bias, as it violated several scientific standards. But to get into the technical specifics I solicited the inputs of about 40 international SLR experts (oceanographers, etc.).

I compiled and edited their responses to the CRC panel’s report into what I called a Critique.

This 33 page document discussed how real science works, and then went through the 16 page CRC document, essentially line-by-line. In doing so numerous specious claims, unsupported assumptions, and questionable models were pointed out. It wasn’t pretty.

It was during this time that I was solicited to work with a small coastal organization called NC-20 (there are 20 NC coastal counties). Since they were interested in promoting science-based solutions (my agenda) for NC coastal issues, I agreed to be their Science Advisor and a board member (both non-paying, volunteer positions).

Initially we had hopes that the CRC panel’s report could be fixed, so we met with the head of the CRC, explained our concerns and handed the Critique to him. He appeared to be receptive and we were optimistic that this important matter could be straightened out. That proved to be an illusion, as none of the CRC panel members ever contacted us about fixing any of their mistakes, or about doing a more balanced assessment. Shame on them.

We subsequently asked that the Critique be posted on CRC’s SLR webpage, but they refused to do so. So much for presenting the facts to NC citizens.

On the positive side of things, due to our objections, the state did (temporarily anyway) back off from the rules and regulations that they had threatened coastal communities with. [BTW NC-20 is NOT disputing that there will be SLR. The amount of NC SLR is unknown, so a genuine scientific assessment of the NC SLR situation should be undertaken. What such an assessment entails is explained in the Critique’s Part 1.]

By all appearances it seems the CRC assumed that the prestige of their science panel would win the day against the NC-20 upstarts. To help assure that outcome they engaged in an intensive PR campaign to pervert this as a science vs real estate developers issue (with them representing the science side, of course!). Here’s a sample of several articles that appeared, and another.

It was during this time that a CRC Panel member wrote me saying that they agreed with the Critique, and apologized for signing off on the Panel’s report! The member stated that the Panel was driven by a few activists, and that everyone else simply went along. This was no surprise, but that an individual had the good conscience to apologize was refreshing.

Anyway, the CRC panel’s disinformation campaign didn’t work, as we didn’t go away. Further, almost everyone who actually read the Critique ended up being on our side. One legislator who liked it asked us to make a presentation to interested state legislators in November 2011. We took that opportunity and it was well received. (See my part.)

Not long after that the CRC panel changed their tactics. Their new plan was to issue an Addendum to their 2010 report, and then claim that all of our concerns were answered. If only that were the case! Their nine page document was prepared with zero contact with us — which tells you all you need to know about the sincerity that they had in any scientific resolution.

My response was to follow the successful earlier pattern, so I passed it on to my network of international SLR experts for their commentary. Again they were forthcoming, so I was able to compile and edit a detailed 18 page response that I called a Commentary. We again sent this directly to CRC, asked them to put it on their SLR website — but posted it ourselves on our own site. [We received no response from CRC, and they have yet to post our document.]

What happened next was a BIG surprise.

We were notified that state legislators were as exasperated as we were with the politicalization of these technical issues — and that they were going to introduce legislation to stop the agenda promoters! Wow.

In this case, SLR legislation was drafted by a staffer who has a PhD in oceanography. The main point of the document was that future SLR projections must be made based on extrapolating prior empirical data. In other words, state agencies would not be allowed to create policies that were based on speculations about some possible acceleration!

As a scientist, I’m always concerned about legislating technical matters. In this case, though, the evidence is quite clear that certain NC agencies have no genuine interest in real science. So what to do? Defunding them is a possibility, but that might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Replacing the agency’s problem people is another option, but the logistics for that weren’t practical. So putting some constraints on these dogmatists has some merit.

Not surprisingly, the backlash was immediate. These evangelists are used to getting their way, and for legislators to actually stand up against their religion was an unexpected development.

In their anguish they lashed out to anyone they could blame for this roadblock in their crusade — including yours truly. There were numerous rants (some national) lamenting how “good science” was being thwarted by ignorant legislators. Even the Colbert Report had fun with it.

Of course, the reality that the legislators were actually trying to protect NC citizens from promoters masquerading their agendas as science, was rarely reported. Such are the times we are living in, where talk is cheap, and few understand what science really is.

What’s worse is that thousands of scientists are off the reservation, and have no interest in adhering to scientific principles or procedures. The solution (in my opinion) is that such renegades should have their degrees revoked, just as a priest is defrocked for violating his vows.

In any case, here is a piece about the NC SLR bill (H819), which includes a link to download a PDF version. Last Friday, there was a brief committee hearing (see interesting video) where this measure was discussed and voted on. It passed unanimously.

As I understand it, the NC Senate may be voting on this measure this week. I am hoping that they will not be dissuaded from their worthy objective. I wrote this (word limited and edited) NC op-ed to respond to some of the misinformation.

IMO there are parts of this bill that can be improved, and I submitted written suggestions. If you’d like to add your comments, please direct them to the bill’s sponsors: Senator David Rouzer and Representative Pat McElraft. (Please copy me.)

Some are predicting that this measure will pass the legislature, and then be vetoed by our lame-duck Governor. As an optimist, I’m hoping that since the Governor no longer needs to cater to the green constituency, that instead she can send a message that real science should be the basis of the state’s technical policies. That would give her legacy a major positive boost.

John Droz, Jr. is a Physicist & Environmental Advocate; Morehead City, North Carolina

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polistra

One word tells the whole story: Insurance. The rest is details. Insurance companies have been at the forefront of the Carbon Cult, because it gives them an unarguable way to offload their responsibilities onto other big corporations or onto non-suable Nature.

JeffC

“What’s worse is that thousands of scientists are off the reservation, and have no interest in adhering to scientific principles or procedures. ” Those folks by definition are not scientists …

mizimi

Congratulations sir!
Dogged persistence and the refusal to bow down to activist groupthink but demand real science is the best way forward as WUWT has previously demonstrated.

Phil C

<i.What’s worse is that thousands of scientists are off the reservation, and have no interest in adhering to scientific principles or procedures.
I challenge Mr. Droz to supply those names.

R. Ortiz

“What’s worse is that thousands of scientists are off the reservation, and have no interest in adhering to scientific principles or procedures.” I wish I could say this is a recent phenomenon, but it goes back over a century. As a result, I wonder how many modern “scientists” even know scientific method and what distinguishes science from non-science? Is it any wonder then that many “scientists” jump onto such political bandwagons as AGW?

chris y

Phil C says- “I challenge Mr. Droz to supply those names.”
Look at the authors of AR4 who have affiliations with enviro NGO’s and insurance companies.
Add to the list any climate researcher whose funding relies on defending the spectre of CACC.

Well, you can all stop worrying about increasing sea levels due to warming since it has stopped warming since 1994.
I predict that ALL values obtained from equipment in the satellites used to disprove my maths will prove to be faulty, no doubt,
due to error?, low precision?, accuracy? (no ?)calibration, calibration periods?, representativity of earth? and more such simple problems that only true scientists understand…
http://www.letterdash.com/henryp/global-cooling-is-here

I do not discount the possibility, of course, that there is a conspiracy to hide the fact that earth is cooling and everybody making money on it, is in it.
\
They already changed the “global warming” notion to that of “climate change”

Wow! In that kind of environment, how can one call themselves a “scientist”? How hard can it be to just walk in and proclaim you are one? This doesn’t just deserve a defrocking or two,but a [SNIP: Sorry, but this really will be taken the wrong way. -REP] at least..!

They may have a lot of the big guns, but we’ve got the better people like John Droz. Well done Sir, to both you and your fellow truth tellers.
Pointman

Clyde

I know this is off topic, my apologies. Not to long ago there was a post about a company purchasing electricity for several states for future use. I tried the search box & clicking on show more posts. I can’t find it. I need the link to the company. Can somebody please help me?
Have a nice day

These whackos do not take kindly to push-back against their agenda. Their livelihood and ideology disappear the instant any light is shined on the garbage they throw around in the name of ‘science.’
Congratulations to John Droz.

Zeke

I think there ought to be full, healthy discussion about the federal gov’t giving a 5 million dollar grant to fund a study which necessitates enormous increases in state control of coastal land, by using zoning, restrictions, and extremely expensive regulations.
I think there ought to be a full, healthy discussion about fishing, private property, drilling for oil, collecting fossils and sand or other hobbies by American citizens on our own beaches and shores.
I think there ought to be a full, healthy discussion about the Law of the Sea Treaty, which requires all profits from any use of the ocean to be shared with worldwide recipients.
Ref:
“full, healthy discussion about our coast and its future” http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/02/23/1876250/the-states-sea-level-retreat.html#storylink=cpy

Jeff Fujita

I just finished reading James Gleick’s bio on the unique physicist Richard Feynman. Gleick (not to be confused with Peter) recalls a Caltech experimenter who came to Feyman about a result reached after a process of correcting data. Gleick said Feyman felt “..it was all too easy to fall into the trap of correcting until the answer looked right. To avoid it required an intimate acquaintance with the rules of the scientist’s game. It also required not just honesty, but a sense that honesty required exertion.” This mirrors Droz’s take on the so-called science presented here by the CRC’s panel. And this is the root of the problem with the alarmists. There have been a few here with an equal but opposite political agenda to alarmists that may refute this, but the contention here is not that skeptics are against science and the notion of green (i.e., smarter, more efficient use of resources) practices but rather FOR “real science” as emphasized by Droz. Thank you Mr. Droz for the honesty and exertion.

EternalOptimist

Phil C, You should be supporting Mr Droz, unless you too believe that sea levels will rise by 39 inches in the next 90 years. Why, maybe you even believe Hansen when he goes for a 120 inch rise by 2040
You need to make your mind up Phil, the rate your predictions are coming down, you will soon be raving sceptic

John Droz Jr: Let’s hope that all of the work you put into this will keep things moving in the right direction. Congratulations on the results to date.
Regards.

Stephen Richards

Phil C believes everything the AGWs tell him to believe. Read what he says with a pinch of cyncism.

Bill Illis

Congratulations John.
The only way to stop these scientists is to get to the politicians because the scientists have shown NO ability to police themselves (instead they are goading each other on to make up even greater exaggerations).
The Wilmington NC tide gauge says 7 inches by 2100, not 39 inches.

Gail Combs

A Very Big THANK YOU!
from someone living in North Carolina.

From the CRC Science Panel report, page 8:

Study 2: Kemp (2009 thesis) presented continuous, high resolution constructions of SLR in North Carolina for the past 2,000 years using geological data from Sand Point (Roanoke Island) and Tump Point (Cedar Island).

“Sand Point”? “Tump Point”? Why do they sound familiar?

Reduce your CO2 footprint by recycling past errors! <Eschenback, WUWT, 6/23/2011)

Further Problems with Kemp and Mann (Eschenbach, WUWT 6/26/2011)
I also invite you to see pages 4 & 5 that list the names and associations of the 13 voluntary members of the CRC Science Panel and the 6 invited non-members who contributed to the report.

Phil C

chris y writes:
Look at the authors of AR4 who have affiliations with enviro NGO’s and insurance companies.
And your evidence that these scientists are frauds is what?
EternalOptimist writes: Phil C, You should be supporting Mr Droz, unless you too believe that sea levels will rise by 39 inches in the next 90 years.
I actually don’t care about what he writes about sea level rise. Rather, I challenge him about his attack on unnamed scientists that he himself numbers in the thousands. If he’s so sure they’re wrong (or perhaps fraudulent — it isn’t clear), he should supply names and demonstrate their falsehoods.

rw

Recently, I came across a book called The Managerial Revolution by James Burnham, originally published in 1941. Although a lot of his forecasts did not pan out, he certainly caught hold of something (and others such as Paul Gottfried have followed up on the idea). One thing he didn’t really delve into deeply was the psychology of the managers, or the managerial class, which is certainly on display here – in that their actions seem based on the assumption that they have an inalienable right to make decrees and have them obeyed – regardless of the effects on other parties.
Whatever the explanation, this is certainly another fascinating episode in the annals of global warming.

Phil C

Stephen Richards says:
Phil C believes everything the AGWs tell him to believe.
Correction: I believe what the scientific community tells me through their research.

MrE
rw

At the very least, one can see in this episode the sense of separation that these members of the managerial class have vis a vis the rest of the population, which intriguingly includes the state legislators. (Guess where this could go if left unchecked.)

Bob Diaz

39″ in 90 years comes to 11 mm per year!

John Droz writes:
“It was during this time that a CRC Panel member wrote me saying that they agreed with the Critique, and apologized for signing off on the Panel’s report! The member stated that the Panel was driven by a few activists, and that everyone else simply went along.”
That is the very same scenario that Prof Richard Lindzen has written about. A few activists insinuate themselves into committees by taking the drudge work no one else really wants, and then leverage their positions to eventually hijack the organization.
It is a very successful tactic, and it has allowed activists to hijack the AMS, the RS, the APS and most other formerly well repected organizations.
That sets up the appeals to authority we read here constantly, writtten as if it is preposterous that all those professional societies could be wrong.
Well, they are wrong when it comes to the “carbon” issue, for which there is still no testable, empirical evidence. [CO2 probably has a small warming effect, but it surely does not raise sea levels by a metre per century; CO2 most likely does not raise sea levels by any measurable amount.]
Kudos to John Droz. Another crack in the AGW wall has appeared.

Gail Combs

Zeke says:
June 11, 2012 at 11:09 am
I think there ought to be full, healthy discussion about … the Law of the Sea Treaty, which requires all profits from any use of the ocean to be shared with worldwide recipients.
Ref:
“full, healthy discussion about our coast and its future” http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/02/23/1876250/the-states-sea-level-retreat.html#storylink=cpy
_____________________________________
Thanks for the link Zeke. It is getting rather hard to keep up with all the attacks on our freedom and our wallets.

Shevva

@PhilC – It’s called ‘Research’.

CRC seeks middle ground on sea-level plan
Coastal Review Online | May 13, 2012, By Frank Tursi

“Where we are with sea-level rise is in the education and dialogue phase,” Bob Emory, the commission’s chairman, said after the meeting. “…..
But once the report went public, the backlash came swiftly. NC-20, a group representing some coastal counties and development interests, questioned much of the data in the science panel’s report and the basic science underpinning climate change. …
In the face of such opposition, the Coastal Resources Commission asked the science panel to review the objections. It did so in an addendum that Margery Overton, the panel’s chairwoman, presented at last month’s [April] meeting. She affirmed the panel’s original findings, but noted the uncertainty of its forecasts for future sea-level rise. If the ocean rises at the same rate that it has in the past, the debate is moot, she said.
“If you use the historical data and do the math, you don’t get a one-meter (39-inch) rise,” said Overton, an engineering professor at N.C. State University. “So the forecasts are based on the expectation that sea-level rise will accelerate in the future. Acceleration is the key.”
And it could be decades before that happens, Emory noted.
“If there’s anything in [the report] that we don’t need but will only draw fire, it needs to be taken out,” Emory said. “We’re not through the dialogue phase yet. We’re receiving resolutions from local governments at a fairly rapid pace. I don’t want this policy to be seen as a back-door to regulation.”….
Overton was pleased with the outcome. ….
Robert S. Young was less enthusiastic. He’s a geologist who heads the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University. He’s also a member of the science panel and one of the primary authors of the addendum to the original report. …“I agree that this isn’t an emergency, but I don’t think we have 30 years to figure this out,” he said. “Nothing will get better in the next decade. Storm damage will only get worse. Beach re-nourishment projects will only get more expensive. Good planning is about preparing for the future.”
But first people have to get comfortable with the concept, Emory said. …“I’m not trying to minimize what we might see 50 years from now,” he said. “But we’re not ready to discuss it yet.”

Not ready to discuss it? Discussion should come before anything else — at least in a free society.

John F. Hultquist

I’ve read numerous articles by physicists regarding parallel universes and have always considered the prospect unknowable at best but highly unlikely. Now, along comes a physicist and convinces me they do exist. He is in one universe and from the other:
NC should expect a 39 inch SLR by 2100
With now accepting this strange concept of parallel universes I find I too am in one here on the left coast: I live in the Great State of Washington characterized by an active plate margin deemed (by geologists) to be storing energy enough to bounce our coast around like a bobblehead doll. Meanwhile activists are more concerned about stopping construction of a port to ship coal to Asia. Coal=carbon=death – and all that.
Anyway, John D., thanks for the report. Well done.

Duster

Kind of have to agree with Phil C. “Thousands of scientists off the reservation” begs a lot of questions. What’s more it tends to confound science as a process, with scientists, who are human beings, and therefore have human failings – including an entirely too common propensity to rely on authority, hearsay and faith. Science is the way scientists can fix these things. But, there frequently needs to be motive, before there’s action. Most “scientists” these days are not scientists in the common sense. They are not out there doing “research.” Instead, they are degreed technicians “applying” what they think they have learned, often at someone else’s direction to someone else’s ends. As such they are stuck with supervisors, agenda driven work loads, and the entire field of politically driven decision-making demands that infests the interface between science and politics and society.

John F. Hultquist

Phil C says:
June 11, 2012 at 11:37 am
“. . . in the thousands . . .

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times . . .
Take a break, and read this:
http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-figurative-and-literal/

EternalOptimist

Phil C says ‘I actually don’t care about what he writes about sea level rise’
well you should Phil. This is a story about the real impact of real believers on real people in the USA. Stuff like this wrecks livilhoods and lives. You say you get your beliefs from Scientific research, thats fair enough, but which one
Hansens 120 inches by 2040
CRC 39 inches by 2100
IPCC 23 inches by 2100 ?
or Mr Droz’s uncertainty – ‘a genuine scientific assessment of the NC SLR situation should be undertaken’

ID deKlein

The Colbert video is “unavailable” in the UK. Does he say anything interesting, amusing or true?

Luther Bl't

I salute you., sir. Exemplary fortitude and endeavour in the face of provocative dissembling. Next stop Agenda 21?
I very much like your idea of defrocking the climate scientologists. Perhaps they will find a rewarding new career selling reptile lubricants to herpetologists.

Zeke

Gail Combs inre Law of the Sea Treaty before Senate now:
“Any royalties collected from U.S. mining would have to go to the United Nations agency International Seabed Authority.
The treaty also would force the U.S. to share any deep sea technology that most countries do not now have.
It also would place restrictions on the U.S. Navy by compelling what amounts to an environmental impact statement on the area where it might conduct exercises.”
Restricting and controlling American’s use of our rich coasts and coastal waters is being done by increments in states, as the article says. I think the international context of the LOSTreaty should be kept in mind in any discussion of coastal regulations based on so-called climate science.

ferdberple

Phil C says:
June 11, 2012 at 11:37 am
he should supply names and demonstrate their falsehoods.
====================
how about the cars that pass you on the road? if you are going the speed limit they are speeding and breaking the law. have you taken their license plate numbers and filed police reports against them?

Zeke

Any environmental objections to the Russians drilling for oil around Alaska’s islands? Didn’t think so.
http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/obamas-giveaway-oil-rich-islands-to-russia/
“Obama’s State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Russians. Yes, to the Putin regime in the Kremlin.
The seven endangered islands in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea include one the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. The Russians are also to get the tens of thousands of square miles of oil-rich seabeds surrounding the islands. The Department of Interior estimates billions of barrels of oil are at stake.
The State Department has undertaken the giveaway in the guise of a maritime boundary agreement between Alaska and Siberia. Astoundingly, our federal government itself drew the line to put these seven Alaskan islands on the Russian side. But as an executive agreement, it could be reversed with the stroke of a pen by President Obama or Secretary Clinton.
The agreement was negotiated in total secrecy. The state of Alaska was not allowed to participate in the negotiations, nor was the public given any opportunity for comment. This is despite the fact the Alaska Legislature has passed resolutions of opposition – but the State Department doesn’t seem to care.”

Earle Williams

John Droz Jr.,
I disagree with your suggestion about what to do about scientists “off the reservation”. It reminds me too much of Heidi Cullen’s proposal.

Phil C

This is a story about the real impact of real believers on real people in the USA. Stuff like this wrecks livilhoods and lives. You say you get your beliefs from Scientific research, thats fair enough, but which one
Hansens 120 inches by 2040
CRC 39 inches by 2100
IPCC 23 inches by 2100 ?

Considering the inclination of some people who posts at this website to not even accept basic scientific facts — the big one being that burning fossil fuels has caused the atmosphere to warm — I don’t see the value in nitpicking in other areas of research. When people who decide to challenge items like sea level rise forecasts can at least state their position on these more basic matters, then it becomes an issue that might get my interest here.

Mr Droz,
Thank you so much for your efforts. As a member of a local planning board in the area , I sincerly appreciate folks like you, Pat McElraft and NC-20 for fighting this good fight! I have bookmarked this post and you gave me a lot to review for future reference. The CRC WILL be back with this. It is just a matter of time.

Earle:
This departure from science, by purported scientists, has become epidemic. I believe that it is THE major technical issue of our time.
If a scientist eschews scientific methodology to promote personal political agendas, they have abandoned the fundamentals that qualify them as being a scientist. Decertifying them should be an option.
If you have a better solution for scientists who abdicate science, I’d love to hear it.

Gunga Din

Let those who believe the sea will rise 3 feet in the next 100 years sell their land cheap now to those who don’t and move to higher ground.
Besides, that’s a really slow rise. It will take time, but it will be noticed. Spend the taxpayers’ money to move/preserve infrastructure when it’s obvious it actually IS happening. Right now, it’s only happening on a computer screen.

johndroz

Phil C:
With all due respect, none of those sources qualifies as “scientific research.”

Phil C

johndroz says:
With all due respect, none of those sources qualifies as “scientific research.”
What sources are you referring to? I haven’t cited any.

Louis Hooffstetter

Posted this before but it’s still relevant. Growing up on Folly Beach, SC 40 years ago, I remember a sign on the causway to the island that said something to the efeect of: “In 100 years sea level will be six feet deep at this point” (can’t recall the exact wording). Folly Beach is still there and I still live there. It has erosion problems but they’re caused by the USACE, not sea level rise.

EternalOptimist

Phil C says ‘…the big one being that burning fossil fuels has caused the atmosphere to warm…’
I think you will find that most people here accept that the ‘greenhouse effect’ is real, that the planet is warming and that sea levels are rising.
I think you will also find that that most here do not accept the GHG ‘tipping point’ theory, that the planet is warming to a dangerous level and that sea level rise is accelerating
So you and I DO agree on the basic scientific facts. Your conclusions lead you to believe that wrecking the livlihoods of people in NC is ‘nitpicking’, my conclusions lead me to agree with Mr Droz, lets get some proper science done here, before more damage is done.

Latitude

…your first mistake seems to be not realizing that anyone can call themselves a scientist

eyesonu

johndroz says:
June 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm
This departure from science, by purported scientists, has become epidemic. I believe that it is THE major technical issue of our time.
If a scientist eschews scientific methodology to promote personal political agendas, they have abandoned the fundamentals that qualify them as being a scientist. Decertifying them should be an option.
===================
I wholeheartedly agree with that.