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A cure for insomnia

09 Mar 2022 | News Roundup

We understand if the news about the Ukraine and the world economy leaves you awake at night worrying, and it might seem odd that we recommend turning to a supposedly apocalyptic IPCC report to help you doze off. But compared to the lurid hyperventilation in the press, many parts of the IPCC report are positively soporific. For example the Miami Herald faints that “Climate change has already changed places like Florida permanently and irreversibly – affecting coral reefs, leading to higher property values and increasing inequality for vulnerable populations in the state, according to a new global report from the world’s top scientists.” Er, you realize higher property values means things are getting better, right? As does the fact that people are flocking to Florida at record rates. Undaunted, the Herald swoons on that the report says “The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet” and adds “The nearly 2,000-page report had a global focus, but Florida was repeatedly used as an example of a place where the impacts of climate change were already being felt, both economically and environmentally.” Now when some reporter refers to a 3,600 page report as a “nearly 2,000-page report” you are entitled to doubt the veracity of anything else they say. But to be thorough, we will list everything the IPCC report has to say about Florida, and you can decide for yourself if there’s anything to keep you awake.

Here’s everything the Report says about Florida, not counting bibliographic references.

“Disruptions in ocean and coastal ecosystem services partly attributable to climate change have also caused economic losses (limited evidence, high agreement)… In southwestern Florida, USA, where nutrient enrichment, lake hydrology, and rainfall conditions control cyanobacterial HAB formation (Havens et al., 2019), toxic HAB events deterred visitors and recreation, leading to lodging and restaurant revenue losses (Bechard, 2020), decreased domestic and international arrivals and overall visitor spending (a 99 million USD loss from August to October 2018, Scanlon, 2019), and lost recreational spending from loss of boat-ramp access (a 3 million USD economic loss from June to September 2018, Alvarez et al., 2019).”

“(Work, 2020) found reduced spring flow due to increased groundwater abstraction in 26 out of 56 springs studied in Florida (USA).”

“sea level rise is expected to lead to the displacement of communities along coastal zones, such as in Florida in the USA (Hauer, 2017; Butler, Deyle and Mutnansky, 2016).”

“Assessment of the Miami-Dade area in Florida noted that coastal inundation caused by tidal flooding (and to a lesser extent sea level rise) resulted in over $465 million in lost real-estate market value between 2005 and 2016 (McAlpine and Porter, 2018), although property values have increased from high-end housing construction and climate adaptation measures (Kim, 2020)…. in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States, researchers found that adaptation functionality had a positive effect on property values (Keenan, Hill and Gumber, 2018)”.

So there’s the dreaded increased inequality thing. Well, that and “For example, New developments in Hawai'i, Florida, Quebec, and popular resort areas in Mexico have led to social inequalities through increased property taxes leading to the marginalization of local residents away from these areas in favour of wealthy tourists (Manuel-Navarrete and Pelling, 2015) (also see 14.5.9).”

There’s also the scary news that

“Florida Power and Light (USA) which provides service to approximately 10 million people, is investing $3b in flood protection and the hardening of assets (for example, upgrading wooden polls to steel and concrete) (Brody, Rogers and Siccardo, 2019).”

And if that bit isn’t scary enough,

“Coastal inundation in the Miami-Dade region in Florida, USA, is estimated to have caused over USD465 million in lost real estate value between 2005 and 2016, and it is likely that coastal flood risks in the region beyond 2050 will increase without adaptation to climate change.”

And, as we’re trying to include every reference so you can judge the reporter’s summary fairly,

“In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused widespread damage to infrastructure and health services, and a slow recovery response by authorities was followed by the migration of tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans to Florida and New York (Zorrilla, 2017);(Echenique and Melgar, 2018).”

Plus

“And if some structures are constructed to poor building standards, as was the case when hurricane Andrew made landfall in Florida in 1992, then vulnerability to hurricane-caused impacts is increased.”

And

“Coral reefs in Gulf of Mexico and along the coasts of Florida and Yucatan Peninsula are facing increasing risk of bleaching and mortality from warming ocean waters interacting with non-climate stressors (very high confidence) (Cinner et al., 2016; Hughes et al., 2018; Sully et al., 2019; Williams et al., 2019b).”

Risk. Not current reality. “In Florida, by 2100, an estimated US$24–55B may be lost in recreational use and value derived by people knowing the reef exists and is healthy (Lane et al., 2013; Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2019b) as coral reefs decline (14.5.9).”

Likewise it is hard to panic that

“Forecasts and warnings reduce human exposure to HAB toxins in the Great Lakes, the west coast of Florida, east coast of Texas and the Gulf of Maine (Anderson et al., 2019).”

Or

“Similarly, forecasts and warnings have reduced human exposure to the increased risk of toxins from harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, California, Florida, Texas and the Gulf of Maine.”

At least, it is for us. As with “Options for protecting and restoring coral reefs to prevent loss of ecosystem function are under development with Florida reef species (Gattuso et al., 2018; National Academies of Sciences, 2019).” As for “The recreation value of coral reef tourism in Florida, Puerto Rico, and Hawai’i is expected to decrease by 90% by mid-century under RCP8.5 (EPA, 2017) (14.4.2)” regular readers know what we think of RCP8.5 and why.

To complete the anaesthesia, “A survey of NGOs, state and local government across Alaska, Florida, and Maryland in the USA found that perceived risk, uncertainty, and trust in support for climate adaptation varied across two stages of adaptation – support for the development of plans and willingness to allocate human and financial resources to implement plans (Kettle and Dow, 2016).”

That’s it, apart from mention of one court case with “Florida” in the title. Sleep tight.

2 comments on “A cure for insomnia”

  1. The UK Government apparently still believes that the world will overheat through climate change, caused by increases in carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere.
    The latest report (AR6) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just been published and, at 3,675 pages, if ever there were an attempt to blind laymen with verbiage, this is it. They do however provide a 37-page Summary for Policymakers. IPCC_AR6_WGII_SummaryForPolicymakers.pdf Para A.1.1. summarises the observed rise in CO2, which I accept, although there are other explanations than mankind’s use of fossil fuels. Para A.1.2, which I reproduce below, obfuscates the purported effect on the Earth’s temperature, which is what they are trying to scare us about.

    A.1.2 Each of the last four decades has been successively warmer than any decade that preceded it since 1850. Global
    surface temperature8 in the first two decades of the 21st century (2001–2020) was 0.99 [0.84 to 1.10] °C higher than
    1850–1900.9 Global surface temperature was 1.09 [0.95 to 1.20] °C higher in 2011–2020 than 1850–1900, with larger
    increases over land (1.59 [1.34 to 1.83] °C) than over the ocean (0.88 [0.68 to 1.01] °C). The estimated increase in
    global surface temperature since AR5 is principally due to further warming since 2003–2012 (+0.19 [0.16 to 0.22] °C).
    Additionally, methodological advances and new datasets contributed approximately 0.1°C to the updated estimate of
    warming in AR6.

    To summarise, what this says is that:
    • The average temperature from 2001 to 2020 is 1oC higher than the average from 1850-1900.
    • The average temperature from 2011 to 2020 is 1oC higher than the average from 1850-1900.
    In other words, there has been no significant increase from 2001-2010 to 2011-2020. A tenth of one degree is well within the margin of error. No sceptics would challenge this and, indeed, we accept that global temperatures have risen 1 degree centigrade since the ending of the Little Ice Age (circa 1300 to 1850), which followed the Medieval Warm Period, when temperatures were even higher than today.

  2. With dire predictions for the future of Florida, it is strange that Nancy Pillosi and her husband would buy a beach front property in the state. Then too , it is even stranger that Al Gore, Bill Gates, John Kerry and Barack Obama would all spend Millions of dollars on properties on the beach when they know these homes will soon be under water, or not.

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