A Reasonable Approach to Sea-Level Rise

by James A. Bacon

Virginia’s environmentalists are smarter and more forward-thinking than California’s environmentalists. That’s a low bar, admittedly, but it’s a not-inconsiderable consolation now that environmental lobbyists and their friends in the Democratic Party run the commonwealth.

In California, leaders of the environmental/political establishment fervently believe that human-caused climate change is increasing the incidence and severity of heat waves and droughts. But rather than follow through on the logical implications of such convictions, California persisted with forest-management practices and growth-management strategies that turned arid forests into tinderboxes while steering housing development into vulnerable areas. The result has been a series of massively destructive forest conflagrations. Bottom line: California’s environmental and political leaders are idiots.

Here in Virginia, leaders of the environmental/political establishment fervently believe that human-caused climate change is accelerating the rate of sea-level rise and flooding along Virginia’s coast. The difference is that they are following through the logical implications of this belief and giving serious thought to how to make coastal areas more resilient. Thus, while I could nitpick with the breathless conviction that the science is settled, I find the newly issued “Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework” issued by the Northam administration to be a reasonable and useful document.

According to the Master Planning Framework, Virginia’s coastal region covers 8,950 square miles and more than 10,000 miles of tidally influenced shoreline. More than 250,000 acres of land, 1,569 miles of roads, and property valued at $17.5 billion lie less than five feet above the high tide line in Virginia.

Furthermore, coastal Virginia has one of the highest rates of relative sea-level rise in the United States. Over and above the effects of rising global temperatures on thermal expansion and ice cap melting, coastal Virginia is experiencing subsidence from shifts in tectonic plates as well as the draw-down of the Potomac Aquifer. The Sewell’s Point tide gauge in Norfolk has experienced more than 18 inches of relative sea level rise in the past 100 years. As a consequence, recurrent flooding in Hampton Roads has increased from 1.7 days of flooding per year in 1960 to 7.3 days per year in 2014.

These are facts, not modeled projections based on hypotheses of the factors driving climate change and sea level rise. Virginia does have a problem. We can debate how rapidly flooding will get worse, but any forward-thinking person should agree that we need to address the issue squarely.

My main issue with the Framework is that it is unnecessarily ideological. The document insists that is critical to “acknowledge climate change and its consequences.” Previous state studies have addressed coastal flooding “without stating unequivocally that climate change is the root of the problem.” The result, says the Framework, has been tortured titles like the Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency and the Joint Subcommittee to Recommend Short-Term and Long-Term Strategies Minimizing the Impact of Recurrent Flooding and Coastal Storms.

What’s so bad about tortured titles if, by papering over different views about climate change, they create a strong consensus on the need for action?

Having claimed the mantle of “science,” the authors of the report then utilize projections contained in the NOAA technical report on Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States, which forecasts that sea level will continue to rise at an accelerating rate. However, NOAA acknowledges that there a vast range of uncertainty. Here is the chart showing the potential change in feet at Sewell’s Point:

For purposes of planning, the Northam administration has selected the yellow line reflecting the “intermediate-high” scenario. Picking the intermediate-high scenario versus, say, the intermediate-low scenario — more than six feet of rise by 2010 compared to two feet — is a political decision, not a scientific one. I’m sorry, I can’t help it, but the lofty claim by left-of-center folks that their every policy prescription is guided by “science” is grating.

Otherwise, the Framework is a reasonable document. Regardless of how fast the relative sea level is rising, we know that it is rising. We can be reasonably certain the flooding will get worse. And it is prudent to act now rather than wait, California-style, until the disaster is upon us to do something.

As the Framework notes, there are numerous initiatives underway at the local and federal level. But they are piece-meal. The Northam document proposes a comprehensive approach that assesses risks and identifies projects that offer the best cost-benefit ratio to guide the investment of finite resources in the years ahead. That is a reasonable and defensible proposition.

The Framework goes on to make another important point: “Fiscal reality dictates that we will never have adequate resources to armor and/or elevate large sections of our coastline. Further, doing so is undesirable because it would fundamentally alter and degrade the Chesapeake Bay and the ecosystems that support coast Virginia’s economy and define its culture.”

From that flows a major policy orientation: The Coastal Resilience Master Plan will prioritize natural and nature-based features to protect infrastructure. “The Plan will promote structural protective measures only when the science shows that green infrastructure will not offer sufficient protection, and that relocation is not possible.”

I think I’m OK with that. The devil is always in the details. To see the details, we must await publication of the Master Plan itself. For the most part, Northam’s Framework seems a reasonable approach to ensuring that Virginia does not replicate California’s folly.

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77 responses to “A Reasonable Approach to Sea-Level Rise

  1. NOAA covered all the bases with that sea-rise projection chart. I might have come up with that, and I know nothing about sea movements. What are we paying them for, anyway?
    If Gov Northam was smart he would have reached your conclusion.

    • Subsidence. Parts of Virginia, especially in Hampton Roads, are sinking. So the 18 inches of higher tide levels at Sewell’s Point in 100 years is a combination of sea level rise (underway since the Ice Age ended) and subsidence (since the meteor strike?) A prediction of about 1.5-2 feet of additional change over the next 100 years is perfectly reasonable. The claim of 6+ feet by 2100 is bat shit crazy, yet there it is highlighted in the document. (You can see the low-end prediction of less than 2 feet on that NOAA chart.)

      That said, everything they want to do is also useful in protecting against the next hurricane, and Virginia is long overdue for a direct hit. The claims of increased storms or increased intensity are bogus, and not backed up by any data, but a good old fashioned Cat 4 or even the run of the mill Nor’easter drives up the storm surge and dumps plenty of water, and protections against that flooding are needed.

      • That reminds me of the season of “This Old House” the wife and I were watching this past week. They were at the Jersey Shore dealing with the aftermath of Sandy.

        I did my childhood vacation at Ocean City, NJ (grandparents knew people who had a house that was stuck in 1950). I don’t think I notice as I was far too young, how many homes were built at grade.

        When I was 15 we started vacationing in the Outer Banks and at grade homes are few and far between there, stilts are the norm.

        When I got married, I started going with my wife’s family to Murrell’s Inlet and again all on stilts, unless they were built 50+ years ago.

      • Steve, whatever happened to the idea of pumping partially treated waste water underground to both mitigate subsidence and replenish the aquifer?

        The VP had some articles before its demise.

        • That pumping is happening — we wrote a story about it a year or two ago. The aim is to slow the rate of subsidence, which makes the assumption of a 6.7-foot increase in sea level by 2000 less likely.

        • …and the water is treated to the same standards as that which gets discharged to surface water (tertiary treatment) according to the HRSD website.

          • Maria Paluzsay

            Last I checked, the 2 paper mills had permits to pull 56 million gallons a day of good drinking water from the aquifer for mill use. Only 33% of aquifer water goes to private/individual use. Seems the aquifer shrinking part of our subsistence problem could be quickly solved by Northam and the DEQ stepping up and restricting the use of good aquifer water to those of us that actually drink it and requiring industry to use readily available surface and treated water for its needs. Subsistence is not the priority, but it sure makes an eye catching headline.

          • Maria –

            You make an excellent point. Assuming reasonable geographic proximity between treatment plant(s) and the paper mills, it should be less expensive and more efficient to pipe/pump treated reuse water directly from WWTPs to the mills instead of first injecting it into the ground and then pumping it back out at a different location.

            I do not know any specifics regarding where these facilities are located, so geographic proximity may very well be a hurdle to making something like that happen.

      • I believe the geologic subsidence in VA/MD is due to the elasticity of the earth slowly rebounding back to normal from the great weight of the Ice Age glaciers. Then of course groundwater removal worsens that.

  2. Prediction. This will result in a huge transfer of wealth from ordinary people to those people who own real estate on or very close to tidal waters.

    If Northam were concerned about ordinary people, he’d urge legislation that prohibits the construction or reconstruction of any private buildings in any location that is projected to be 2-feet under water by 2100.

  3. The acceptance of anthropogenic climate change is only ideological to conservatives, to everyone else it’s not a question of if but how bad. I wish conservatives would join THAT debate instead of continuing to tilt at the windmill of disproving the Arrhenius effect.

    And of course this decision was guided by science. Ultimately a target had to be chosen, but the NOAA science supporting it is sound. It’s fair to ask why, but given the following three things I think the Intermediate High choice is defensible:

    1) NOAA’s curves had three emissions profiles they were using: aggressive cuts to and mitigation of carbon dioxide(RCP2.6), a leveling off by 2050 and slow decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide after(RCP4.5), and business as usual(RCP8.5) . Under all three there is above a 93 percent chance of exceeding the low value, the odds of exceeding the intermediate low estimate is only under half and half at RCP2.6 and even that is 49 percent, the chances of exceeding the intermediate estimate are much lower with only RCP8.5 reaching double digits at 17 percent, which falls to 1.3 percent for intermediate high. In isolation this would lead me – personally – to use intermediate as the scenario save for the next two points…

    2) The NOAA estimate is based only on sea level rise and doesn’t include the effects of subsidence. This in itself would probably keep me squarely in the intermediate camp save for the fact…

    3) Norfolk and other parts of Southside Hampton Roads are critically important to the state’s economy from the ports to the military bases to ODU to tourism. Losing the ability to access these resources would be bad for the Commonwealth, which argued for planning for a worse (but not worst) case scenario.

    Otherwise, the rest of the analysis of the framework is sound.

    • Well if you are going to embrace Arrhenius, who was outspoken on climate change before Year 1900, he felt it should be a concern, but at least warming is probably better than cooling. US liberals contend climate change was discovered around 1970, but liberals were hypnotized into complacency by a clandestine evil plot by the US fossil fuel industry. Around 2005 US liberals discovered the world was coming to an end, and they had been fooled.

  4. UpAgnstTheWall- “The acceptance of anthropogenic climate change is only ideological to conservatives, to everyone else it’s not a question of if but how bad. I wish conservatives would join THAT debate instead of continuing to tilt at the windmill of disproving the Arrhenius effect.”

    As with most things, conservatives will gladly reach across the aisle to work with people from other points of view to find common ground such as how to deal with rising sea levels and subsidence.

    That become increasingly difficult, however, when powerful national leaders on the liberal side openly embrace lunacy that threatens our economy, national security, and day to day ability to drive our cars and heat our homes. Democrats, celebrities and the news media have forced us to spend most of our time an energy defending sanity.

  5. The NOAA chart showing different projections – came from science. Those lines were not picked out of a hat or just someone’s opinion.

    Picking one of the lines IS politicol but again, keep in mind the chart itself is based on science not ideology.

    Now if you don’t really believe the science to start with – then don’t believe that chart either…

    • Science, what a wonderful word. Before we get to that, let’s talk about observation and measurement. They tell us that 1) sea level rise has been going on for thousands of years at a fairly steady rate and 2) every effort to prove that the rate is accelerating has fallen short. The sea level rise going on for thousands of years before the modern industrial age cannot be blamed on human beings burning fossil fuels.

      What we have now is not science, it is speculation. Theory. Models. Assumptions. If we assume this about the forcing effect of CO2 in the atmosphere, and assume that accelerates glacial melt and sea level changes, what possible outcomes are there? Picking the line that conforms to the thousand years leading up to today is not politics, it is not ideology, it is based on observation and measurement. THAT is the answer science points to.

      Now, if on that basis people like Jim and I are willing to see major financial investments in reinforcing the shoreline and protecting human settlement patterns, why not shut up and move forward rather than arguing beyond the evidence? Because it has become a religion…Revealed Wisdom. That, my friend, is not science.

      • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217469/

        “Key results are: (i) a rapid final fall in global sea level of ∼40 m in <2,000 y at the onset of the glacial maximum ∼30,000 y before present (30 ka BP); (ii) a slow fall to −134 m from 29 to 21 ka BP with a maximum grounded ice volume of ∼52 × 106 km3 greater than today; (iii) after an initial short duration rapid rise and a short interval of near-constant sea level, the main phase of deglaciation occurred from ∼16.5 ka BP to ∼8.2 ka BP at an average rate of rise of 12 m⋅ka−1 punctuated by periods of greater, particularly at 14.5–14.0 ka BP at ≥40 mm⋅y−1 (MWP-1A), and lesser, from 12.5 to 11.5 ka BP (Younger Dryas), rates; (iv) no evidence for a global MWP-1B event at ∼11.3 ka BP; and (v) a progressive decrease in the rate of rise from 8.2 ka to ∼2.5 ka BP, after which ocean volumes remained nearly constant until the renewed sea-level rise at 100–150 y ago, with no evidence of oscillations exceeding ∼15–20 cm in time intervals ≥200 y from 6 to 0.15 ka BP."

        So, no, sea levels have not been rising for thousands of year. They were rising for thousands of years, slowed down but still increased for a few thousand years, then stopped rising until the last century.

        "Theory. Models. Assumptions."

        I have some bad news for you about how science is done. Especially cross disciplinary study that includes physics, chemistry, and materials science all interacting together.

    • I have no trouble believing that sea levels will rise somewhere between 10″ and 135″. That’s an incredibly wide range of possibilities.

      In that spirit, I have done extensive research of historic rainfall data for the month of October in Virginia. After analyzing all information available to me, I offer the following prediction: The 24-hour rainfall total in Richmond, Virginia, on October 23, 2100, will be somewhere between 0″ and 30″.

  6. Larry and UpAgnstTheWall, perhaps it escaped your notice, but I did not question the science behind the NOAA sea-level forecasts. So, I’m really baffled at what you’re complaining about. Maybe you’re so accustomed to criticizing conservatives for “not accepting the science” that you can’t break out of your rhetorical rut.

    • To pick back up 🙂 the alarmists cannot accept the science. Because the science points to outcomes that we can manage, that allow us time to adapt and adjust. So the science must be pushed to apocalyptic extremes, to scare people into destroying the economy. UAGTW et.al. are the modern Malthusians. I need to write that post on Shellenberger’s book. Before Shellenberger, I had already concluded that Global Warming End Times was a religious movement, but the insight he added was the Malthusian roots.

      • Where do you get that from Steve? The science is saying there is sea level rise AND that it’s due to global warming. You want to believe the first part but not the second?

        The anti-global warming folks are largely the same folks who have doubts about the pandemic. It’s just plain old “anti-science” except they will pick and choose what science they want to belive and what not, depending on the day and the politics of the day.

        • Gee, Larry, during the Ice Age do you think the surface temperatures were the same? When NYC was encased in a glacier? Or is is possible both gradual warming and the retreat of the ice have been going on simultaneously for a long time? And IMHO, the Pandemic Panic Queens are no more committed to real science than the Global Warming Apocalypse crowd.

          • Steve – I think all these things were in play – but keep in mind – these things took place over thousands of years, millions, and we are living in a tiny sliver of that timeframe.

            That’s why we listen to science – which I will admit is not 100% dead on correct but it’s way , way better than our own subjective reasoning that is not based on scienc but our own intuitive thinking which is mostly useless when talking about processes that occur over thousands and millions of years.

            The “skeptics” are funny. They pick and choose what science they want to believe and they even use some science they pick to question other science.. but their choice of what to believe and not – has no rhyme or reason other than if they think it means damage to the economy – then it becomes “unacceptable”.

      • “UAGTW et.al. are the modern Malthusians.”

        So much for your vaunted lack of as hominems.

    • re: ” What’s so bad about tortured titles if, by papering over different views about climate change, they create a strong consensus on the need for action?

      Having claimed the mantle of “science,” the authors of the report then utilize projections contained in the NOAA technical report on Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States, which forecasts that sea level will continue to rise at an accelerating rate. However, NOAA acknowledges that there a vast range of uncertainty.”

      The “mantle” is science for not only the sea level rise but the reasons why that are causing it.

      You then address the “range of uncertainty” and then talk about political ideas. That “range” is based on science. It’s not political. Making choices based on the SCIENCE -IS political but the underling “facts” are SCIENCE – not ideology.

    • On possible explanation is cut-and-paste commenting.

    • You said that Northam’s decision wasn’t so much as guided by science – I pointed out that it clearly was and then further interrogated the factors that went into the NOAA curves and posited for discussion three reasons why the choice of intermediate high was defensible. If you want to debate the merits of those reasons be my guest, but don’t misrepresent what I said and then make up motivations on my behalf for that misrepresentation.

  7. What does the California “policy” have to do with Virginia? Problem number two is having a bunch of history, creative writing and religion majors pretend they really get this material. Some real experts, please!

    • Now THAT’s an ad hominem argument. Hey, because of the religion degree I can recognize superstition, catechism, magical thinking and a powerful priestly class when I see them. They would actually call me a heretic!

      With real scientists you get that gibberish UATW delivered above, with more acronyms per square inch than a set of aircraft carrier plans, or the cover-their-asses projections you see in that NOAA chart. Science in process is quite messy, as the pandemic response has shown. But unlike “Climate Science,” the pandemic research is working off experiment and observation. At this point it is clear the models we heard about are crap. The science says the schools can open safely, that the harm done by closings exceeds the benefit, yet many remain closed and will.

    • In addition to being a non-sequiters, it ignores that California spent 32 of the last 53 years with Republican governors and that 57 percent of the state’s forest land is managed by the federal government.

    • The absolute irony of someone with a degree in International Relations and Affairs’ critiquing others about their knowledge of materials.

      Well Pete, I’ve got a EE and a minor in History would you like any questions regarding science answered.

  8. so, here is the problem with models:

    Not a single one is “right”.

    But does that mean they are wrong?

    • It means neither. It means that models make predictions. Sometimes the predictions are right, sometimes the are wrong. NOAA’s global climate-change models might be right, they might be wrong. We don’t know. Let’s not pretend that we do. And let’s not pretend they are “science.” The scientific method creates falsifiable hypotheses and the tests them against real-world data. Climate-change models predicting results in the year 2100 are not “scientific,” even though some of the inputs may be scientifically derived. The models are mathematical statements of the relations and interactions of a multitude of variables, nothing more or less.

      • Isn’t this like saying that Hurricane Models are not scientific?

        Or for than matter, virtually any model ?

        Aren’t the sea level predictions – models?

        • I would say that models can be said to be “scientific” if they are used in an iterative process to formulate a hypothesis, the hypothesis is compared against the data, the model is modified in response to the data, and the model is used to make a new hypothesis and prediction. The problem with climate change models making predictions for 2100 is that it takes 80 years to find out if they are right…. and by then, everybody has forgotten about them.

          • Aren’t most significant models developed by scientists?

            Models tell us about sea level rise. Models tell us about subsistence. Why do you believe that – those numbers but not the same models that are based on what is causing the sea level rise?

            It’s funny. At the same time you’re saying that you don’t believe the science, you’re actually citing other science to base your beliefs.

    • Okay. Now, consider this: The U.S. government has, say, $10 billion to spend on hurricane protection measures. They want to spend that money at locations along one of the paths the hurricane is predicted to follow.

      Use the available science to pick the path along which the money should be spent.

  9. Steve. You majored in religion? I had no idea.

  10. Larry, repeat after me. All models are wrong. Some models are useful.

    • All models are done by “science”?

      How do you decide which ones to believe?

      • Conservatives respect science as much or more that the vast majority of people beating us over the head with admonitions to “follow the science. ”

        The issue is that scientists are imperfect humans, as are the people who create models. We’re still learning the science, and the models based on them are even less perfected. Climate models must account for more variables than one can imagine, and weigh each one appropriately. It’s one of the most difficult tasks imaginable. It’s not a disrespect for science that causes me to question the reliability of current models.

        Models can’t even accurately predict what team will with the Super Bowl in a few months, much less tell us the temperature 50 years from now.

        Were any of the early models for COVID-19 infections and deaths accurate? No. While the creators told us they were based on science, the initial models were absolute garbage. Over time they got better.

        Projections and models for climate change have yet to accurately predict future temperatures. One need only look at what various predictions for today were several year ago. They were wrong. I’m sure models will improve over time, but I’m not ready to bow down to any scientist or model claiming to be based on science. The scientists I respect most show are not the ones who think they are practically infallible.

        Respect science, but don’t worship the word of scientists. They’re just humans.

        “On 29 December 1934, Albert Einstein was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying, “There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” This followed the discovery that year by Enrico Fermi that if you bombard uranium with neutrons, the uranium atoms split up into lighter elements, releasing energy.”


        I’m a huge fan of Albert Einstein. I have and cherish several books about him. But he too was human.

  11. Actual NOAA Tide Gage Trends at Sewells Point
    1927 to 2015 4.59 mm/yr = 1.51 feet in 100 years
    1927 to 2019 4.7 mm/yr = 1.54 FEET in 100 years
    A 0.11 mm increase is 0.173 inches over 4 years.

    But why bother with the reality of what is and what has happened, when we can use scenarios of what MIGHT happen.

    Intermediate High taken from the 2017 NOAA Report, Table 5 shows 1.5 meters (4.9 ft) of Global rise in 2100
    p. 23, Table 6.
    Rise rates (in millimeters per year for 19-year averages centered on decade) associated with the median GMSL scenario heights this century (as shown in Table 5).
    GMSL Scenario (Global Mean Sea Level) Rates ( mm/year) for Intermediate-High
    2010 2020
    5 mm 7mm

    Then the report adds an additional .4 meters (1.31 ft) to .7 m (2.3 ft) to the total Global rise for the Eastern U.S. Coast. (p.29) based on Antarctic melt increasing the amount and reduced by Greenland glacier impact on the Gulf Stream. So we get 1.5 m (4.9 ft) plus .4 t0 .7 = 1.9 to 2.2 m (6.2 to 7.2 ft) to get to the Sewells Point chart in Fig. 1 in the post.

    The 2017 NOAA report says in
    “Significant uncertainties exist about the exact trajectory (and impacts) of future climate change, limiting the value of prediction-based frameworks for long-term, climate-related decision-making (e.g., see Hallegatte et al. 2012, Weaver et al., 2013). In other words, decision-makers must expect to be surprised (NRC, 2009).”

  12. Mean global sea level is not what we see in local sea level. Relative sea level rise is the relationship of land in a specific place to the sea level at that place. Basing predictions on global situations isn’t going to help us plan for local ones. Adding in false statements to the mix certainly doesn’t help. In the new Virginia report, they say on page 4: “Coastal Virginia is also vulnerable to flooding due to higher water tables as the sea level rises, and the degree to which this impacts current and future coastal flooding is not yet fully understood.”

    Well duh. It doesn’t work like that!

    Failure to allow natural drainage to streams, creeks, rivers, and bays traps FRESH water on land. It has nothing to do with sea level rise. The last time I looked, tides still change 2-3 times a day, and the seawater level goes down on the low tide. Can’t speak for Hampton Roads, but I can say for Mathews, our marshes still drain at low tide.

    Preventing normal drainage, however, leads to compaction of saturated soil, preventing future normal absorption of precipitation and causing more runoff. This does increase flooding from precipitation because the water can’t go anywhere. Again, that has nothing to do with sea level rise.

    See https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/recurrent-flooding-and-flooded-roads/ in 2017.

    (Please note that since that post was published, Del. Hodges has asserted Lewie Lawrence of the Middle Peninsula Planning District was not involved in drafting HB1774. The MPPDC minutes of their December 2016 meeting did say, “the Commission authorized Executive Director, Lewie Lawrence to retain Chris Pomeroy of Aqua Law for a fee of $6,000 as a consultant to help draft legislation for a stormwater implementation solution…”.)

  13. Came across this tonight from Interesting Engineering “Melting Glaciers Reveal Lost Viking-Era ‘Highway’ and 1,800-Year-Old Artifacts”

    This mountain pass was used by travelers for 1,000 years, then abandoned during the Black Death….Archeologists found nearly 1,000 artifacts that belong to anywhere between 300 and 1500 AD.


    Dare I say the glaciers haven’t always been there or have melted before, or will that make me a climate skeptic? : )

  14. in terms of scientists being “flawed human beings”. Totally true and totally applies to all science and models, not just climate and yet we still have significant good data and models from them – as a group – despite individual flaws.

    It’s the body of knowledge that all scientists participate in building and adding to that is the “science” – not what one guy claims.

    The issue prior to global warming where we DID listen to science was the Ozone Holes. Yes there were lots of different views and models , some of them even contradictory, but at some point – a consensus of scientsts was reached and they said that if we did not act that the holes would get much worse and great harm would result.

    And we did act – even though there were “skeptics” and some contries that did not act – we had a scientific consensus of most of the scientists in the world. The formulas for CFCs were changed despite those that said it would wreck how we did refridgeration and inflict harm on the economy.

    If we had Ozone Holes today – what would happen in terms of science and “skeptics”?

    • https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/10/10/the-ozone-hole-returns-to-both-poles/

      Hate to break it to you, Larry, but they’re back…..

      One clear sign this is religious movement is the assumption that we human beings have done all this “evil”, and can undo things by practicing “virtue”, just as the ancients believed that by sacrificing children to Baal they could assure a good harvest. Sorry, but even a few billion of us don’t have that much power and the Gods are not listening to NPR….

      I believe the CDC data that the vast majority of people getting sick now are reporting, hey, I wore the mask! They probably did, and it definitely helps. But it cannot stop this pandemic and never will, it only slows it down…Only a good vaccine or real herd immunity will bring this to an end.

      • Steve – you need to at least read real science. The site you are referencing has an agenda and point of view that is skeptic-based. I’m surprised that you rely on this site for science to be honest. At the least, you should also consult real science sites:

        The Ozone Holes are not “fixed” – they are recovering – and it will take some time…

        ” The Montreal Protocol bans emissions of ozone depleting chemicals. Since the ban on halocarbons, the ozone layer has slowly been recovering; the data clearly show a trend in decreasing area of the ozone hole.

        The latest WMO /UN Environment Programme Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion, issued in 2018, concluded that the ozone layer on the path of recovery and to potential return of the ozone values over Antarctica to pre-1980 levels by 2060.

        Antarctic ozone hole in 2020 is large and deep

        The large ozone hole in 2020 has beendriven by a strong, stable and cold polar vortex, which kept the temperature of the ozone layer over Antarctica consistently cold.

        Ozone depletion is directly related to the temperature in the stratosphere, which is the layer of the atmosphere between around 10 km and round 50 km altitude. This is because polar stratospheric clouds, which have an important role in the chemical destruction of ozone, only form at temperatures below -78°C.

        These polar stratospheric clouds contain ice crystals that can turn non-reactive compounds into reactive ones, which can then rapidly destroy ozone as soon as light from the sun becomes available to start the chemical reactions. This dependency on polar stratospheric clouds and solar radiation is the main reason the ozone hole is only seen in late winter/early spring.

        Stratospheric ozone concentrations have been observed to have reduced to near-zero values over Antarctica around 20 to 25 km of altitude (50-100hPa), with the ozone layer depth coming just below 100 Dobson Units, about a third of its typical value outside of ozone hole events.

        During the Southern Hemisphere spring season (August – October) the ozone hole over the Antarctic increases in size, reaching a maximum between mid-September and mid-October. When temperatures high up in the atmosphere (stratosphere) start to rise in late Southern Hemisphere spring, ozone depletion slows, the polar vortex weakens and finally breaks down, and by the end of December ozone levels have returned to normal.


        • I enjoy reading real science. That’s why I am eager to read this one. It’s now complete, but awaiting publication. I’m sure the delay in publishing it has nothing to do with politics. Cough Cough


          Bloomberg News reported in July that Henning Bundgaard, a Danish cardiology professor and main author, was “finalizing” the study that would examine the effectiveness of face masks in stopping the spread of the coronavirus outside of hospitals.

          “All these countries recommending face masks haven’t made their decisions based on new studies,” Bundgaard said at the time.

          The study’s abstract states that it “will be a two-arm, unblinded, randomised controlled trial” that “will include adults (>18 years of age) without prior confirmed COVID-19 or symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, who spend more than three hours per day outside the home with exposure to other people. “

          Six thousand participants were randomly assigned to use face masks or not for a 30-day period during the pandemic. The results would be based on the difference in the number of individuals infected with the virus within the two study groups.

          “This is the world’s largest study of its kind and is expected to be included as an important factor in the basis for government decisions regarding the use of masks,” Bundgaard said.


          • Why did the major journals refuse to publish? The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Sounds like another conspiracy, eh?

            The guy doing the study is a cardiologist and not an epidimiologist?

            The rest of the scientific world including the CDC is recommending masks and the anti-mask folks are still at it – arguing that people have a “right” to not wear them and now – one study of questionable merit that apparently fails to meet the standards of normal scientific studies becomes what the anti-maskers are claiming supports their views?

            Sorry, Charlie. This walks and talks like yet another conspiracy theory from the folks on the right.

          • I’m sure this study will be published at some point. In the meantime I’ll go with the science and the work that’s already been done. How about you?

            “It would appear that despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks. For instance, high rates of infection with cloth masks could be due to harms caused by cloth masks, or benefits of medical masks. The numerous systematic reviews that have been recently published all include the same evidence base so unsurprisingly broadly reach the same conclusions. 2 However, recent reviews using lower quality evidence found masks to be effective. Whilst also recommending robust randomised trials to inform the evidence for these interventions. 5 ”

            “Many countries have gone onto mandate masks for the public in various settings. Several others – Denmark, and Norway – generally do not. Norway’s Institute for Public Health reported that if masks did work then any difference in infection rates would be small when infection rates are low: assuming 20% asymptomatics and a risk reduction of 40% for wearing masks, 200 000 people would need to wear one to prevent one new infection per week. 6”


          • The science? The very first question one might have about a “sudy” like this is how can you assure that the mask wearers actually wore their masks all the time? How do you assure that?

            No – there is NO “uncertainty” among the major medical authorities in the world – the only “uncertainty” are those that oppose them looking around for anything they think might support their “anti” views.

            In Science, the DESIGN of the study is all important. If you are going to test masks in a pandemic -you have to have a way to validate that all your mask-wearers actually did wear their masks when they were supposed to.

            If you cannot guarantee that – then how good are your results?

            People who support “studies” that Medical journals deem not well designed are actually missing the “science”.

            Calling what you “like” – “science” is not the same as what science really is or not. You can’t pick and choose the science you like – you either support science as the scientific community does it or you do not.

            In the end – any dumbass can do a “study”. No one prevents you from doing that. And you can “publish” it anytime you want – you don’t need to get premission from the Scientific Journals and why would you anyhow if you disagree with that process?

            Why not just do your study and publish it and let it stand on it’s own merits and not accuse others who reject your study of conspiracies?

          • Science: Defined as What Larry Wants To Believe.

          • Sceience defined the way that science really is.

            I accept and support the current way that Science works. Yes.

            And I do not put much stock in skeptic sites that impugn sicence and scientists and call world-wide scientific consensus – a “conspiracy”.

            If someone has a “study” – why in the world do they want existing scientific journals to “publish” their studies? Why not just publish them and let everyone decide their merits?

  15. Sorry, Larry. Consensus is not necessarily based on science, or good science. Doesn’t matter if they’re scientists or brick-layers, the scientific method needs more evidence to support a theory than a group saying, “Yeah, that’s right.”

    Virginia Beach public works made a correct statement in “VB Sea Level Wise”when it said, “While flooding can occur as a result of higher high tides, wind tides, elevated water tables, or stormwater runoff, the effects can be much more intense when any of these events occur simultaneously (Figure 1.1). The ability of “receptors” (e.g., the watershed, floodplain, marshes, barrier islands, and the built environment) to absorb, filter, and drain water properly will determine the amount of flooding and water quality. ”

    When the Governor’s report referenced in this article said, “Coastal Virginia is also vulnerable to flooding due to higher water tables as the sea level rises, and the degree to which this impacts current and future coastal flooding is not yet fully understood,” it combined two factors expressing an incorrect assumption–that sea level rise causes higher water tables. Both can increase flooding, but one does not cause the other.

    • Consensus is how science has ALWAYS worked up til now for some folks. It’s not a “group of folks”. It’s the scientists around the world. Not one or two or 10 or 20% but a large number, thousands of them.

      It’s how we understand not only weather and climate, but tetoncks, cancer, nuclear power, ocean currents, you name it.

      It does not mean they can’t be wrong or even change but it’s way, way better than folks who do not have credible and relevant scientifc education making up answers that they believe in.

      The Govenor is not a scientist and was giving his short-hand understanding which is based on science instead of whatupwiththat or other skeptic yahoos and ignorati. At least the Governor DOES rely on science in making policy decisions unlike some.

      The really funny thing is that skeptics actually reference other science to support their suppositions. Like the subsidence data. If they got the flooding stuff wrong why not tye subsistence data also? It’s Alice in Wonderland logic.

      Scientific consensus can change and can even be wrong but I’ll take that any day over the would-be yahoo types.

  16. Consensus is how science has ALWAYS worked up til now for some folks. It’s not a “group of folks”. It’s the scientists around the world. Not one or two or 10 or 20% but a large number, thousands of them.

    “It’s how we understand not only weather and climate, but tetoncks, cancer, nuclear power, ocean currents, you name it.”

    No, Larry. That is not how it works. Scientific method requires observation, a hypothesis, experiments to obtain measurements or other data, analysis and conclusion. Science does not jump to the conclusion first. Check out the youtubes on scientific method for children for a quick review if you don’t believe me.

    And please try reading documents before you you comment on them. If you’d read even the introduction to the Coastal Resilience Framework, you’d know the Governor didn’t write it; he wrote the executive order for it to be prepared.

    The subsidence data is based on years of studies and measurements. Read USGS Circular 1392 if you’d like to learn what USGS scientists did, how they did it, and why the results proved half of relative sea level rise is connected to subsidence in Hampton Roads.

    • re: ” Scientific method requires observation, a hypothesis, experiments to obtain measurements or other data, analysis and conclusion. Science does not jump to the conclusion first. Check out the youtubes on scientific method for children for a quick review if you don’t believe me.”

      It REQUIRES these things AND peer review by other scientists AND consensus among most scientists.

      What the Governor signed off on was what scientists wrote, no?

      someone does need childrens books here… for sure.

      • Try reading the classic, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” by Thomas Kuhn. From a one-page summary:

        The Meaning of “Structure” and “Revolution”

        Many people have the idea that science progresses in a linear fashion—a straightforward march from ignorance to knowledge. If that were true, then there would be no such thing as scientific revolutions; old ideas would never need to be overturned, only built upon.

        However, not only do scientific revolutions happen, they follow a specific pattern. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions lays out this pattern clearly and labels each part of it. The parts are:

        Normal science: The process of adding to existing knowledge through experiments and study.

        Puzzle-solving: Finding and fixing discrepancies in science as we currently understand it.

        Paradigm: This is a difficult word to define, and the author himself used it in many different ways. However, a paradigm could be seen as a perfect example of an idea, which can be expanded into the framework of a whole field of scientific understanding. For example, think about the evolution of humans from a more ape-like ancestor. Using that paradigm, evolutionary biologists form the framework for all of their studies.

        Anomaly: Someone finds a discrepancy between the current paradigm and experimental results.

        Crisis: The discrepancy can’t be resolved. Scientists loyal to the current paradigm try to dismiss it, while others try to show that the current paradigm is wrong.

        Revolution: The old paradigm is overthrown by new information, and eventually a new one takes its place—a “paradigm shift.”

        There have been many such revolutions in history that completely changed the way people understood and approached the world. There was a mathematical revolution when the Greeks created proofs to show not only that certain mathematical formulae and postulates work, but why they work. Classical science had a revolution when laboratories and experiments became the preferred way of examining the world, a practice that may have begun with Galileo.

        In the 19th century, entire fields of science were codified and sorted into paradigms, including heat, light, and electricity. Phenomena that had baffled scientists could now be categorized and understood. This was around the time of the Industrial Revolution, and likely a direct cause of it. There have been more since then, including Einstein’s theory of relativity and Planck’s first steps into quantum theory.

        Revolutions happen because science is not a straightforward path toward what’s “true.” It’s more like a path away from what’s wrong.

        Karl Popper’s work could be seen as the precursor to this concept of scientific revolutions. Popper taught that scientists come up with broad, testable ideas, and almost inevitably prove them wrong. Then they refine their ideas based on the new information and try again. This cycle of conjectures and refutations is similar to the idea of scientific revolutions, just on a much smaller scale.


        The theory of human-caused climate change is the dominant scientific paradigm today. But it will continue to evolve — or perhaps be overthrown — with time. I do not know which. But if it is to be supplanted, the old guard that built its reputation on the human-changed global-warming literally will have to die off so the young Turks can replace them with a new paradigm.

        • You should try reading and understanding how Science works – by peer-review and consensus on a worldwide basis.

          You guys call consensus – a conspiracy among politically motivated scientists and other foolishness.

          “Science” is NOT one individual or group. It has to be replicated by others and when it is – a consensus does develop – and that consensus is worth way more than one guy arguing the opposite or a whole bunch of “smart people” who have no background, no credentials but argue “logically”.

          You guys reject fundamental science because it says things you do not like.

          It’s not about what you like or not. It never is and never should be.

          • So says the guy who doesn’t understand the difference between Hypothesis and Conclusion. Neither peer review nor consensus are valid substitutes for Testing.

            The climate is indeed changing, but the proposition that climate change is directly caused by human activity is an unproven hypothesis. Nor has it been proven that climate change is reversible by government action.

            (Government mask mandates are also unproven. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of mandates over voluntary compliance.)

  17. No. It wasn’t all written by scientists.

    I suggested the youtubes because they are straightforward, direct, short, and clear.

    You seem to overlook the fact I wrote “Drowning a County – When Urban Myths Destroy Rural Drainage” which references accepted scientific studies and government reports used in writing it.

    VDOT’s failure to maintain state roadside drainage is not addressed in the framework, only new standards for bridges and culverts to avoid the collapses and flooding accidents of the past few years. In fact, the word “outfall” doesn’t even come up on a search of the document, when so much recurrent flooding is the result of VDOT’s using natural streams as drainage channels, but not taking any responsibility once a road is built–unless water backs up over a road. Their solution is to raise the roads, not fix the problem.

    • VDOT doesn’t even take responsibility when the water backs up over the road.

      Their solution is a sign to tell you how high the water is.

      • Sadly, true too often!

      • It’s sorta true. VDOT does not consider land beyond their right of way as their responsibility. They, sometimes, are forced to do something if runoff is affecting the road but typically what they do is repair the break in the road and put in a whopping big culvert to convey water in the future.

        When water downstream backs up over a road – they may or may not do something depending……… and some folks may not realize it but VDOT does abandon roads they feel they cannot maintain cost-effectively for the traffic it carries.

        What happening down in Hampton and region when the big tides come in is going to cause some changes in VDOT’s current policy IMHO.

        • VDOT Fredericksburg District and residency staff were told by the Assistant Attorney General for Transportation Jeffrey R. Allen at a meeting in Mathews that we citizens were correct when we said that VDOT was responsible for roadside ditches on state roads because they are classified as infrastructure and included in the Commonwealth’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report as assets. (William & Mary’s Coastal Policy Center had a representative there too because they were wrong about this in a paper on ditch ownership.)

          VDOT can abandon a state road for two reasons: the Board of Supervisors asks them to because there’s no public necessity for the road or when a new road serves the same citizens as the old road. Not wanting to do maintenance does not entitle them to abandon a road.

          • They are responsible for ditches next to the road. It gets problematic the further from the road you get.

            VDOT has abandoned roads over dams and roads that caused some homeowners to have to take a further route to get back.

            If a road goes underwater – VDOT can and does close it. If it stays under water for a lengthy time, it stays closed.

            VDOT is one of but 4 states that maintain county roads. In most other states, the county roads are the responsibility of the county and it’s taxpayers.

            they’re signed like this:

          • Winnishiek County Iowa has nothing to do with VDOT.

            VDOT does not maintain county roads in Virginia. They only maintain state and interstate roads.

        • Larry, they ceased to be county roads when the Byrd act made them state roads.

          The only county roads that exist in Virginia are in those counties that maintain their own roads.

          • County-maintained in Virginia – Arlington and Henrico – but also cities and towns.

            But even in those places, VDOT still maintains control and responsibility for Interstates, US-signed roads (like US1 or US 50), and Va Primary roads.

            In many, most other states, roads that are similar in design to Virginia 600 series (Byrd era) county roads are the responsibility of the County and some of them have road commissions with taxing power separate from and in addition to the State gas tax.

            Each type of road has specific design standards that have to be followed. Interstates are the top level then US-signed and State primary then 600 series – and subdivisions and frontage roads.

            Developers that build subdivisions have to build their internal roads to VDOT specs including drainage if VDOT is to accept them into the state system.

        • Larry:

          VDOT does not maintain primary routes in cities. I know this because Manassas Park was responsible for widening the part of 28 in their city.

          • sometimes… it’s complicated:

            ” 2.3 Maintenance of Primary Route Extensions within MunicipalitiesWhen a municipality assumes responsibility for maintenance of its streets (those previously part of the secondary system maintained by the Department) under the Code of Virginia Section 33.2-319, it also has the option of maintaining the primary routes which lie within its boundaries, although it is not a requirement of the Code of Virginia. VDOT and the municipality work together to determine maintenance responsibility for primary extensions within the municipality. If a municipality decides that it wants maintenance responsibility for the primary extensions, an agreement is executed”


        • I don’t think that applies to cities because they never had the option of having their roads maintained by the state.

          • I dunno… there’s a LOT of “guidance” there…

            The Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Local Assistance Division develops policy and provides guidance for special funding programs and other programs that impact work performed by localities, and serves as a liaison to local governments. The division also:

            Manages several special funding programs
            Manages urban roadway inventory and system changes
            Manages the local assistance payments program
            Provides policy oversight and guidance for locally administered projects
            Provides outreach and training for local programs


    • Actually, what I support is the traditional way that science works – whether it be for Cancer or Genetics or tektonics, and Climate.

      No one study is science. It’s science when studies are peer reviewed, publicshed and replicated – and a consensus starts to emerge from a majority of scientists.

      I’m not going to get in it (again) with you over VDOT and drainage!


      • Peer review has nothing to do with “science” the often butchered term you use.

        “1: the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
        2a: a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study
        the science of theology
        b: something (such as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge
        have it down to a science
        3a: knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method
        b: such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : NATURAL SCIENCE
        4: a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws
        cooking is both a science and an art”

        Consensus has nothing to do with the scientific method or the results is produces.

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