Impure thoughts about sea level riseJune 5, 2009
There has been some back and forth about the magnitude, consequences and proper response to sea level rise here, here, here, here and here. The alarmists would like to dismiss the evidence of man’s ability to cope. I have wondered why they think the history of free and motivated people pushing back against the ocean is irrelevant. But now this comment by Ed Darrell (from here) puts the alarmists’ mindset into clear focus.
Ed Darrel said:
Yeah, I saw the chart that said sea level is rising in Boston. It’s been rising as long as it’s been measured there, hasn’t it?
Not once did the harbormaster get together with the Brahmins of Boston to say, “We need to make Boston Neck thicker because of rising sea level.”
I didn’t say sea level didn’t rise. I said none of the landfills was done in response to rising sea level. The land was filled out for commercial needs, for commercial wants, and because when the weather created a bunch of new land, it could be used. Not once was any part of the harborscape built out to meet rising ocean levels.
So, to claim that Boston illustrates that the world can cope, is simply in error. Of course the world can cope in major harbors where there is plenty of commercial activity to combat a modest increase in ocean level.
What was your point?
So, apparently, Boston’s experience doesn’t count as evidence of man’s ability to push back against the ocean. Why? Because their actions were motivated by impure thoughts.
If I have properly deciphered Ed’s logic, then the following scenario does not show man’s ability to cope with the ocean:
Land in the Boston area is crowded and valuable. Engineers and the ‘Brahmins of Boston’ say “We could boost commerce by making Boston Neck thicker and recovering land from the sea.” Engineers design ways to push back the ocean and follow through on their plans.
But the following scenario would demonstrate man’s ability to cope with the ocean:
Land in the Boston area is crowded and valuable. Engineers and the ‘Brahmins of Boston’ say “We could fight against global warming by making Boston Neck thicker and recovering land from the sea.” Engineers design ways to push back the ocean and follow through on their plans.
Why would the second scenario illustrate man’s ability to cope with the ocean, but the first does not? In both cases they have the same problem and the same outcome. Here’s why: in the first scenario the engineers’ and brahmins’ motivations are impure, in the second scenario the engineers’ and brahmins’ motivations are pure.
Well, at least we have found some common ground. That is, we agree that the sea level has been rising near Boston, and we agree that Boston has been successful in pushing back the ocean. But Ed can’t seem to understand that even if the ocean had not been rising near Boston for the last hundred years, their experience shows that they have the ability to cope if it started rising now.