Going coastal: what exactly is 'Coastal Resilience' anyway?

800px-Nissequogue_River_Delta[1]New buzzword explained in context of climate alarm

Guest essay by Kirtland Griffin

The Nature Conservancy defines it as, “Coastal resilience is the ability of coastal communities to respond to and recover from stressors.” The “stressors” are, of course, sea level rise caused by man and more frequent and stronger storms also caused by man. The apparent objective is to stretch the limits of extreme possibilities of future sea level rise to enable them to scoff up the most real estate to add to their $6Billion in assets by scaring the shoreline property owners into believing their property will be inundated by sea level rise.

It also reduces the price. They say it is “inevitable”. To assist in their endeavor, left wing politicians at the state and federal levels, have enacted legislation to grant a significant capital gains tax reduction when selling to an environmental organization, make monies available to offset the cost of relocation, restrict what may and what may not be done in the areas of building and repairs, end any attempts to fortify the property against the ocean, allow the taking of property with two 50% insurance claims ever (no time interval noted), and of course the FEMA revised flood insurance mapping that will make it impossible for the poorer residents to purchase required insurance and stay in their homes which further reduces the value of the properties. They have quite a toolbox at their disposal.

But where does Coastal Resilience come into play?  They have developed a tool to illustrate to politicians, gullible enough to believe in this scam- and Connecticut is full of them- the areas to be inundated by future sea level rise according to their predictions that Nils Axel Morner terms “pure fiction”. The tool itself is a strange combination of land elevations, North American Vertical Datum, Mean High Water and predictions from previously unknown sources. It is the one area where discussion has been stifled. Discussion where???

The Nature Conservancy arrived in Guilford, Connecticut about 2 years ago with this plan and offering the ability to get funding for the town’s capital projects related to issues with Long Island Sound. They got Guilford a grant to fund a study to define the risks associated with the eminent future sea level rise and mitigation plans. Completion of the study is required by state law at guess who’s insistence. They have covered all the bases. They even had an engineering firm with several previous cooperative projects that got the majority of the grant. How convenient.

What is significant here is that Guilford is one of three pilot programs to form the basis of a statewide program, already legislated to be completed, and funded through existing Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection funding. Translation: Previously “needed” programs will have to be cancelled. Does this mean they won’t be protecting “Energy” anymore? Good grief!

Of interest to many in the rest of the USA, and around the world,  this program is scheduled to be implemented in 12 states, 2 territories and in several countries around the world. The #1 solution to Coastal Resilience according to TNC’s web site is “ACQUISITION” of someone else’s property. To do that, they exceeded the realm of scientific reality and made a high-emissions scenario prediction of 7.3FT NAVD to occur sometime in the 2080’s in the Guilford, CT Coastal Resilience Risk and Vulnerability Assessment. The study was conducted, according to the first Guilford report, by NASA GISS and the CCRS (Center for Climate Systems Research) out of Columbia University commissioned by the Nature Conservancy.  They describe it as, “three different IPCC emissions scenarios and seven global climate change models coupled with historic tide gauge data, subsidence rates, and several other variables (Columbia/NASA).” TNC immediately reduced the predicted SLR to a “downscaled” 52 inches, in their words. Remember that number. You will see it again.

 In 2012, the Connecticut State Legislature passed a bill denoting the NAVD level for Guilford as 4.1 ft NAVD. It is apparent that value was not used, as that would only be 39 inches SLR at 7.3 ft NAVD. Not even close…. What does appear to work with other near-term predictions and their so-called, “downscaled” estimates is 3.0 ft NAVD. If one subtracts 3 ft from 7.3 feet you get-did you guess it? –52 INCHES. What a coincidence! So 7.3 ft NAVD is 52 inches. It is definitely not a downscaled estimate.

Upon a bit of further research I found a PPT presentation to New York City that referenced the Nature Conservancy, GISS CCSR and 3 emissions levels and 7 GCM’s as cited in the Guilford report.  So I have found the source of the 7.3 ft NAVD? Sorry to disappoint, but the prediction was only for 45 inches in the 2080’s, high scenario, said to include Antarctic and Greenland ice melting beyond IPCC predictions. I temporarily ceased my investigation figuring I had uncovered a discrepancy in the data. Feeling self-satisfied, for a while, the lack of an actual report continued to work on my mind. It doesn’t take much.

I finally discovered a report, written, not by GISS or CCSR for the Nature Conservancy, but by The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Science, Dr. Adam Whelchel, “Developing a Regional Framework for Assessing Coastal Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise in Southern New England Part 1” There is a lot of junk, IMHO, in this report but I did discover some real gems. The first thing that struck me was that the Coastal Resilience Tool does “not support Sea level rise less than 1 meter”. The second gem was a reference to Gesh 2009, “Analysis of Lidar Elevation Data for Improved Identification and Delineation of Lands Vulnerable to Sea-Level Rise”.  In this paper Dr. Dean Gesh makes several interesting comments. He talks about “95% confidence” and uses the Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) of the elevation dataset to determine the uncertainty band around the mean SLR. His formula is SLR mean +/- 1.96 x RMSE, which gives you +/-2 standard deviations around the mean, ergo 95% confidence band based on the uncertainty, associated with the elevation dataset. Dr. Whelchel uses this formula but modifies it, stating that Gesh was “more cautious”. Interesting choice of words… He changes the formula to SLR Mean+/-1 x RMSE and includes a correction factor between the NAVD and Mean High Water or about 35% of the band of uncertainty above the mean. He does not go into detail about how he gets to his final number but he does start with 1 meter of SLR, logical because the tool does not support anything less. Using the CT LiDAR RMSE of 68 cm. (LiDAR is Light Detection and Ranging) and the Correction factor of minus 35 cm, the value for maximum sea level rise comes out to……….. Yes, I have it………. Ta Da!!! 133 cm. And if you couldn’t guess, that comes out to our old friend, 52 inches!!

In the study he appears to cite the low limit at “0 inches” but uses 18.5 inches as the low in the Guilford report for a total confidence band of around 47%. The “Medium” scenario is set at 20 inches, a mere 1.5 inches above the low limit. So the prediction for worst case SLR for the 2080’s was apparently not based on CO2, or any other, emissions or GCM’s as claimed by TNC. It is purely a function of the error associated with the elevation dataset and the inability of the Coastal Resilience tool to process SLR <1 meter.

The apparent determining factor for the tool’s ability to handle SLR is whether the low limit would be below zero SLR. Strangely, Dr. Whelchel didn’t use the full extent of his own modified formula on the low end and failed to identify the mean of 1 meter, substituting 20 inches (50cm). If one is not going to use the formula in its entirety, however modified, why not use any value you wish. Just supposing, had a predicted SLR mean of 35cm been used with the original Gesh formula, the upper limit would have been 133cm or 52 inches, as an example. The proper lower limit would have been an unconscionable, but symmetrical, 52 inches of sea level fall. Just a bit of numerical what-ifs.

Curiously, in the engineering report for Guilford, the mean and low values are the same for all predicted time periods except for the 2080’s. Had Dr. Whelchel calculated the minimum and published it in the report, he would have had a range from a bit less than 1 inch up to the stated 52 inches.  So if the predicted mean were less than 1 meter, there would be SLF (Sea Level Fall). Further, had he used the Gesh formula (X1.96) with 1 meter SLR mean, the range would have been in the realm of a fall of 28 inches to a high of 6.5 ft. And all of the variation of this prediction is directly related to uncertainty in the elevation dataset.

Dr. Gesh was quite clear in the use of this technique stating,

“If coarser, less accurate elevation data are used for impact assessments, then a range of values for inundated area and affected population should be reported based on the spatial projection of the inherent vertical uncertainty of the elevation data. Even the use of medium-resolution, medium-accuracy elevation data, like the 1 arc-second NED derived from map-based standard USGS DEMs, is questionable if the goal is to produce highly accurate maps of potential inundation zones from a 1 meter rise in sea level.”

I put “should be reported” in bold because this was not done. Instead, the implication in the Guilford report was that it was inevitable instead of we believe it is somewhere in this range. Gesh goes on further to say,

“A rise of such magnitude (1 meter) is slightly above the range of the current estimates reported by the IPCC, so the level of potential rising seas for which mitigation and management plans must be made for the remainder of this century demands that analyses be based on data such as lidar that can support sub-meter levels of accuracy and precision.”

The NY Suffolk County LiDAR (derived) RMSE for Long Island was 13cm making that a suitable candidate, but the CT Lidar RMSE was much higher, likely due to forestation and rapid elevation changes. Just guessing… Long Island is relatively forest free and flatter allowing for a lower RMSE. The CT Lidar is a poor candidate for the use of this formula given the large uncertainty, and they said nothing about it in the Guilford report. NOTHING!

The apparent  intended, purpose of this exercise, called Coastal Resilience, is to threaten as much land as possible with future inundation from the sea resulting in potential acquisition of private property from unsuspecting victims. The engineering firm representative even went so far as to compare Cape Cod, Mass and the sand erosion there, to the north shore of Long Island Sound’s rocky headlands in one of the public meetings. The Nature Conservancy’s stated goal is to own 10% of the planet’s land surface. With this program they will have an excellent start.. 13% of the planet’s land surface is already owned or controlled by environmental organizations. This has the potential of being the largest  land-grab the world has ever seen. And it is coming to a shoreline near you. With the latest NOAA sea level rise data for the past 5 years at less than the thickness of a Popsicle stick; about half of the previous 5year average, sea level is headed in the opposite direction. To achieve the TNC’s prediction, that rate of rise would have to be increasing at a rapid rate. It is not.

And I thought I was done with this investigation, when I decided to write Dr. Dean Gesh to get his take on this situation. I got a very nice response that was totally in keeping with the high standards I had seen in his paper. He commented,

Specifically, if they used the SLR mean +/- one RMSE that would equate to about 68% confidence, as compared to the approach I used (about 2 times the RMSE) with 95% confidence.  Both are suitable ways to express confidence as long as they are labeled/explained completely.

(emphasis added) So although he did not take issue with the change to his formula, it was clear that the Guilford Coastal Resilience reports did not give a low limit according to even the revised formula and any mention of uncertainty being the determining factor for the range of estimates was totally absent. Did I already mention that?

And possibly the best of Dr. Gesh’s response was the revelation that there was a newer CtLidar dataset taken after Tropical Storm Sandy. I went to the reference and found the Vertical RMSE=5cm. When you calculate the new limits, the low is 23.6 inches and the high is 27.6 inches. While still higher than what I believe will happen, it is a far cry from 52 inches. Dr. Gesh had no opinion on what may or may not happen relative to future sea level on what date, as that is not his field of expertise.

While the source of the high limit of the prediction in the Guilford reports has apparently been identified, the new CtLidar raises several questions. Why didn’t TNC use the latest dataset? Exactly how does one use the –35cm correction factor when the correction factor is larger than the RMSE? It would seem that the –35cm has no logical purpose in the case of RMSE=5 or any other RMSE<35cm. The logical, if not outrageous, prediction of 1m +- 5cm appears to be a precise estimate of an arbitrary value of sea level rise, but the uncertainty of the 1meter is at best a SWAG. SWAG’s have an infinite RMSE. That is kind of like the limits some people will go to capitalize on the CAGW scam.

see also http://www.coastalresilience.org/


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February 11, 2014 4:56 pm

A dune boggle.

February 11, 2014 5:17 pm

Kirkland, thanks for an excellent article. I live in a coastal community and would like to make our local officials aware of these shenanigans. Is there someway to get in touch with you?

James Strom
February 11, 2014 5:23 pm

Good, Kim!

James Strom
February 11, 2014 5:33 pm

This seems to be an example of the regulatory pendulum swinging, as it seems to do, a little too far to one side. For many years we have had encouragement of coastal building, particularly through subsidized insurance, with expensive and destructive results. You can make a strong environmental case that such development has been excessive. Now we have entered an era in which environmentalists will try to make up for lost time through aggressive regulation and seizures. But this trend will also go to unacceptable extremes–my favorite candidate for removal on environmental grounds: Venice, possibly followed by the harbor of New York City.

Ian L. McQueen
February 11, 2014 5:44 pm

On CBC Maritimes today was an item on land erosion on Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada’s smallest province. There was no mention of climate change or global warming, which was both unusual and encouraging, for the CBC never misses an opportunity to push the CC / GW idea. I had the impression that the work covered only the normal erosion that one gets when the rock is sandstone.
Ian M

michael hart
February 11, 2014 5:57 pm
February 11, 2014 6:14 pm

“There is a lot of junk, IMHO, in this report…”
You can’t take their claims of SLR littorally.

February 11, 2014 6:16 pm

Instant “Kim Klassic.” One of your best, Kim.
I’m not seeing any public good in what would be a government taking of private holdings. But of course, they are doing it, “for your own good” right? Riiiight….

george e. smith
February 11, 2014 6:40 pm

It would seem to me that the problem with coastal communities, is coastal communities.
Coasts have a way of falling into the ocean, so they aren’t really good places to commune; and especially not good to do again after you fall in the ocean.

Richard Ilfeld
February 11, 2014 6:51 pm

I live on the water.
My family has a cabin in a national forest in New Mexico. The powers that be were perfectly happy to grant a 99 year lease, with the understanding that leashold improvements forfeit at termination.
If I can handle a depreciating asset in the forest, I can handle it on the coastline. I wish you damn progressive crooks would keep your hands off my stuff ….all your pseudo-science seems like little more than a license to steal.

Frederick Michael
February 11, 2014 7:08 pm

In 1986, James G Titus published a paper in Coastal Zone Management on the impact of sea level rise. That paper assumed a rise of 2-5 feet by 2086. We’re now massively behind schedule on this. 1 foot looks close.

February 11, 2014 7:26 pm

From the article:
“….the areas to be inundated by future sea level rise according to their predictions that Nils-Axel Mörner terms “pure fiction”….”
Nils-Axel Mörner is the worlds top sea level rise expert who relies on data, not models.
These people should be forced to read this paper by Nils-Axel Mörner:

February 11, 2014 8:22 pm

Something similar occurred in Australia, particularly in Victoria and NSW. Local Councils attempted tp prevent building in certain private foreshore areas. The intense backlash by landowners in these areas against the Councils and threats of political wipe-out in local elections has convinced the Councils to desist.

February 11, 2014 9:03 pm

Typical Agenda 21 strategy hard at work, all under the guise of conservation- whatever the reason may be. Depreciate the land by various means, then come in through the back-door and buy it or simply persuade the property owner to enter into a contract like a conservation easement which simply removes any right to the land. I’ve dealt with these pseudo conservationists first hand, so I know what kind of monster were dealing with.
In the U.S.The Nature Conservancy is led by President and CEO Mark Tercek, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, and an adjunct professor at New York University Stern School of Business.
I will refrain from making any comments about The Nature Conservancy in Canada…… they’re just as evil.
These people all have connection to big oil and gas, mining corp. etc.
Agenda 21!

February 11, 2014 9:40 pm

12 Feb: Bloomberg: Andrea Vittorio: Con Edison to Calculate Benefits Of Preparing Utility for Climate Change
Stuart Nachmias, Con Edison’s vice president of energy policy and regulatory affairs, said the analysis will build on the company’s $1 billion post-Hurricane Sandy plan to fortify its electric and gas infrastructure against future flooding and other potential effects of extreme weather events.
To help justify these expenditures on the utility side, Con Edison will consider economic benefits to the financial sector or the transportation sector, for example, of avoiding power outages during future storms, Nachmias said…
Risky Business
Calculating the economic risk the U.S. faces from current and potential climate change impacts is the goal of the Risky Business report being prepared by Bloomberg Philanthropies, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and the nonprofit Next Generation…
Kate Gordon, executive director of Risky Business, said the report is meant to help the business community bring climate change costs into long-term planning decisions.
“We all need to start from the same dataset, we all need to start from the same understanding of the problem, and then we can have a conversation about potential solutions,” Gordon told Bloomberg BNA.

February 11, 2014 10:14 pm

kim says:
February 11, 2014 at 4:56 pm
A dune boggle.
Brilliant, Kim!
Only problemo for the study authors might be http://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@sci/@eesc/documents/doc/uow045009.pdf

February 11, 2014 10:16 pm
Rhys Jaggar
February 11, 2014 10:19 pm

From the UK’s perspective, coastal resilience can actually be taken out of all the ‘global warming’ guff and allowed to refer to the time-honoured reality that our coasts can take a battering every few years from high tides, hurricanes etc etc, leading to acceleration of erosion with consequent exposure of inland areas to salt water (not good for crops, is it?)
The proper meaning for us is about designing areas of vulnerable coastline in such a manner that the land 200m inland is protected through a sacrifice of the coastal extremities.
I wouldn’t damn this concept out of hand, but I would be careful not to let global warming mantras blind you to its possibilities.

February 11, 2014 10:49 pm

Around 2007…. about the time I began lurking this site initially… a great and beautiful house on the coast of Oregon was just being finished and I was led to believe that the owner was a president of the nature conservatory. Somewhere between the beginning and ending of the project a massive dune was removed so that small street drain pipe could be installed. What luck for the occupant of the home as the effect was to open the view of the property massively. I held the leash of the man’s dog as his alternative energy DC to AC inverter had apparently malfunctioned. The house was filled with smoke because the inverter had just about to burned the home down. Perhaps on my next coastal trip I’ll stop in and see how things are going with the power system.

February 11, 2014 10:58 pm

this is amusing:
12 Feb: Australian Business Insider: Kelly Dickerson: These Maps Show Which Areas Of The Country Have The Biggest Carbon Footprints
These interactive maps from the University of California, Berkeley show where the U.S. has the biggest carbon footprint. You can even calculate your city’s carbon footprint on their site…
The maps use data from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. The full study was published in December in Environmental Science & Technology…
The study suggests there’s really no direct correlation between population density and greenhouse gas emissions…
If more people move into the suburbs, there could be a significant increase in the country’s carbon footprint. Suburbs already account for 50% of the total household carbon footprint in the U.S.
“Increasing rents would also likely further contribute to pressures to suburbanize the suburbs, leading to a possible net increase in emissions,” the researchers write in the paper…
For example, transportation accounts for 50% of all emissions in suburban areas. But, in big cities like New York, one of the largest emission contributors is food services. The optimal strategy to reduce emissions in both of these areas would be different: the suburbs should focus on ways to reduce transportation emissions, and big cities should focus on ways to reduce food industry emissions.

Greg Goodman
February 12, 2014 1:41 am

“ACQUISITION” of someone else’s property.
Very good article. As ever, it’s follow money.

Bloke down the pub
February 12, 2014 3:04 am

Verity has a post with an interesting graphic here, over at digging in the clay.

February 12, 2014 3:58 am

Coastal resilience is the ability of coastal green communities to stress everyone else enough for evermore money, while ignoring what nature can do for itself.

February 12, 2014 5:28 am

My back door is ~25 ft from the ocean….but I’m lucky….I live in one of the places that has had no man made sea level rise……………………../snark

R. de Haan
February 12, 2014 7:25 am

Great article.
Coastal Resilience is an Agenda 21 tool to depopulate coastal area’s.
Screw them all.

February 12, 2014 9:04 am

damn right. they need a [trimmed]
[Maybe, but violates site rules. Cut the extremism out. Mod]

February 12, 2014 10:10 am

Welcome to the world of environmental scams, and they are legion. The biggest is global warming. The Sierra Club members are thugs who never miss a chance to extort money. They have their admirers who use their methods. There is a sucker born every minute and these guys are making out like bandits. Quote; “We of the Sierra Club oppose your application to the EPA for a permit to release oilfield brine into _______________ Bay. However, if you contribute $50,000 to the Sierra Club, we will withdraw our opposition.”

February 12, 2014 11:01 am

I guess you didn’t read the entire report on Guilford. The only mention of 52-inches is in a single small table, that “clarifies” a much larger table preceding it. Here’s what the report says:
“The result is a set of 27 different maps as listed below in Table 1.  The scenarios are clarified in Table 2.”
Clear now? As mud you say?
As for “downscaling,” I’m not clear on what your argument is about. Anyway, I attend lots of meetings with these CU/GISS guys, and what they mean by that term is taking their global models and producing local values from them that are “meaningful.” Going from global to local, that is.
These reports are churned out all over the place. Sometimes I even have to work on them… Personally, I think coastal/shoreline planning is a good thing, and our policies there are mixed up and counterproductive, but these SLR estimates are just way off the mark.

john robertson
February 12, 2014 12:08 pm

Kleptocracy hides its face behind multi syllable noises.
Blatherskyte being the best description for the parasites who churn out this rubbish.
However this mumbo-jumbo is committee speak at its best, means everything and nothing, a consensus is easily reached.
As none, of the Bureaus, will openly question that which they do not understand.

Brian H
February 13, 2014 4:21 am

Postulate improbable disasters.
Take them as given.
Enforce remediation and mitigation interventions using your favorite agencies and tailor-made commercial collaborators.
Retire wealthy.

February 17, 2014 12:44 pm

Bob, If anyone is still ,checking on this, I would certainly like to help you understand the full impact of this program. If you could post a message on my weblog globalcooler on wordpress we can make a connection. I missed this because I was busy shoveling out the ranch. Global warming caused snow. With regards to the 52 inch SLR question. They started with 7.3 feet NAVD in 2080’s which is not an increase in SL but a relative level to a point up by the Great Lakes. When you look at the “small chart” it shows 52 inches as a downscaled estimate of 7.3ft NAVD. Turns out that 7.3ftNAVD is actually 52 inches of SLR at a current NAVD level of 3.0 ft. and 52 inches is one standard deviation above a 1 m SLR according to their formula based on the uncertainty of the elevation data set. Their claim was that it was determined by 7GCM’s and 3 emissions scenarios. Apparently it was not.

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