Impure thoughts about sea level rise

June 5, 2009

There has been some back and forth about the magnitude, consequences and proper response to sea level rise here, here, herehere 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.

Just Plain NutsVell, Mr. Darrell, I think vee have made some veal progress.  At our next session vee vill analyze your repression of impure thoughts concerning sea level vise.


  1. In AGW-land, physics is different than physics in the mundane world. In AGW-land, just because something like landfills created more land in a near sea level area, unless it was for the pre-announced task of sea level rises, it does not count.
    And of course, in AGW-land, sea levels from melting ice and expanding oceans do not rise uniformly, but only in places that AGW promoters think it should.

  2. He…he…LOL… Thanks for making my day… 😉

    Another good example of a mental illness which has reached pandemic proportions – Groonacy.

  3. Nicely done! Got here from WUWT. Like the ‘impure thought’ that an incandescent bulb provides heat and light and for 3/4 of the year where I live (and all the time in places like Britain, Ireland, and lots of Alaska and Canada) replacing an incandescent with a compact fluorescent just moves you energy costs from your lighting bill to your heating bill; so why bother?

    In Phoenix? You bet. Anchorage? Not so much…

    • If the argument is that Boston shows we can deal with climate change, I want the evidence that shows that. Boston Harbor shows the exact opposite.

      The ONLY time any action was taken in respect of climate was when the hurricane of 1938 turned an island into a peninsula. Boston didn’t fight climate, it rolled over and played dead. It was easy to do — build a seawall and “reclaim” some land. But what if the opposite happens?

      Now you pose an opposite situation, with the sea challenging the land. Where is there any evidence Boston can respond? Not in your example, for sure. Mudflats were turned into land (at great price — those mudflats would have protected Boston from rising seas better, most likely – and don’t get me started on the environmental damage. Boston Harbor was once on a par with New York’s sewers.)

      If it’s not easy, if it’s not profitable with an ROI soon, will Boston do it? Where is your evidence?

      You have maps that show the development of Boston. Your maps don’t show Boston’s reaction to the great molasses flood. They show no reaction to the siege of Boston by Washington and the Continental Army. They show continuing development over 200 years. Where is there evidence they show something more?

      • Ed,

        Thanks for your comment.

        I figure at this point I am beating a dead horse. The Farside comic pretty much says it all.

        I leave it up to readers to make up their own minds. They should pay particular attention to this post. It concerns a comment made on Ed’s blog.

        best regards,

  4. You know, the maps don’t even show a concerted effort by Boston. That’s another issue. Can Boston get civic cooperation for any plan proposed? Any evidence?

  5. Ed Darnell,
    The point is that Boston’s economic interests were completely well aligned with reducing the impact of rising sea levels.
    And since sea levels are rising no faster now than they were between now and the time Boston was founded, this aspect of AGW fear mongering is really no different from any other aspect of AGW fear mongering:
    Much ado about nothing.
    The pitiful aspect of this is that so many AGW believers think AGW belief = caring for the environment. The cleaning of Boston Harbor and the other wetlands and bays of America are only going to be damaged, ultimately, by the obsession AGW promoters have about CO2.

  6. Yeah, someone’s beating a dead horse. Of course, it was dead when you started out on it, too.

    And I think, in that case, I’m not the one who is nuts.

    If you ever figure out what your point was, you’ll see that you don’t quite have the evidence to support it. Unless, of course, your point was that maps of Boston Harbor exist. But if that, then all the discussion was nuts.

    • Ed,

      Thanks again for your insight.

      Best Regards,

  7. […] by denialists on those who tried to warn us about such storms, I asked at Climate Sanity about updates on their rosy “What? Us worry?” view of climate […]

    • Ed Darrell,

      consider the following…

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