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Eclipse now; prognosticated climate apocalypse later…or just apocryphal?

Graphic from

Graphic from

by Len Bahr, Ph.D.

On August 21 my darling wife Guille and my favorite brother-in law Maurice Fox will both celebrate birthdays. On that day many Americans will enjoy a rare opportunity to view a total eclipse of the sun as the moon’s shadow races along a gently curved path, crossing Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina in an hour and 33 minutes.

Last August, published an article by Brian Revnick, in which he reported that NASA scientists have mapped the precise trajectory of each solar eclipse that will occur over the next 1,000 years! Details about the imminent eclipse can be found in a fascinating new Revnick article published on August 2 in, from which the above graphic is copied.

The trajectory and timing of the eclipse have been predicted in exquisite detail for the convenience of many awestruck Americans who will travel to prime viewing locations to witness a phenomenon that won’t happen again until April 8, 2024, when I’ll hopefully be a youthful-looking 83. According to Rebecca Boyle’s August 3 post in, a great deal of new scientific information will be collected during this event.

In his recent article Revnick reported that the knowledge base on celestial mechanics that is required to foretell eclipses goes back about 300 years. I’m intrigued that this information was acquired during the time that New Orleans was founded and just before the dawn of the coal-fired Industrial Revolution, which ultimately (and ironically) triggered the onset of anthropogenic global warming.

An overlapping knowledge base is shared both by the scientists who predict eclipses and those who have been forecasting dramatic climate change for decades. It’s incomprehensible to me how deniers of global warming can rationalize their skepticism, given the demonstrated capability of the scientific community to sniff out extremely subtle signs of change, from a planetary to an intergalactic level. I’ve never been interested in gambling but if I were a bookie I would bank on clients among the dolts and doofuses who dare to disbelieve the wisdom of 97% of the climate scientists around the world.

On July 9, | TheTimes-Picayune published a reminder of the local flood-related consequences of climate change, written by notable environmental journalist Bob Marshall in New Orleans. He warned his readers that the state’s recently-signed 2017 comprehensive coastal master plan will effectively be moot in a few years, absent serious global action on carbon emissions led by the U.S. government. On May 3 I posted about having reached the same conclusion.

Seven months before Marshall’s piece came out, however, it became painfully obvious that such action hasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell during the unrighteous reign of Donald Trump, climate denier in chief. The twin decisions to formally withdraw from the Paris Accord and to open up the Arctic to oil and gas drilling exemplify the POTUS’ soulless sojourn from reason. This week Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) tweeted the following message to his followers:

Ignoring reality & leaving the Paris Agreement will go down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation’s history.

David Wallace-Wells

David Wallace-Wells

On July 10 New York Magazine published an iconic article by David Wallace-Wells, a major manifesto on the potential doomsday consequences of global warming. This extensive and well-researched manuscript identifies seven specific calamities associated with climate change and the piece quickly went viral and has now been read by millions. Hopefully some deniers have been dissuaded.

Here are three random quotes from the article:

The last time the planet was even four (Celcius*) degrees warmer, Peter Brannen points out in The Ends of the World, his new history of the planet’s major extinction events, the oceans were hundreds of feet higher.

…if the planet is five degrees warmer at the end of the century, we may have as many as 50 percent more people to feed and 50 percent less grain to give them. And proteins are worse: It takes 16 calories of grain to produce just a single calorie of hamburger meat, butchered from a cow that spent its life polluting the climate with methane farts.

…we will see at least four feet of sea-level rise and possibly ten by the end of the century. A third of the world’s major cities are on the coast, not to mention its power plants, ports, navy bases, farmlands, fisheries, river deltas, marshlands, and rice-paddy empires, and even those above ten feet will flood much more easily, and much more regularly, if the water gets that high. At least 600 million people live within ten meters of sea level today.

On July 19 published an article by Alexandra Clinton about the credibility of the Wallace-Wells article, incorporating a videotaped interview with a NASA scientist. On July 20 published a review of the same article by staff reporter Emily Atkin. Coincidentally on July 20 Huffpost posted a report by whistle blower Chris D’Angelo, a federal scientist from the Department of Interior who was removed from his role informing Alaskan natives about climate change and reassigned to a desk job processing royalty checks from oil companies. Talk about environmental injustice! On August 3 published an article by Emily Atkin on the environmental disaster for which the Trump administration is putting us at risk.

Apocalyptic warnings about the effects of climate change on the Louisiana coast from credible objective commentators with no ax to grind contrast starkly with the far less alarmist predictions endorsed by a coalition of five local NGOs who share a common vested interest in keeping hope alive. This group, Restore the Mississippi River Delta, or just Restore, is currently underwritten by a grant from the controversy-averse Walton Family Foundation, as described here.

Entrepreneurs happily offer novel ‘solutions’ to the local coastal crisis. On July 26 | TheTimes-Picayune published a report by Tristan Baurick about what I would call a Dutch fantasy — a proposal to replace inundating coastal landscape in Louisiana with manufactured floating islands. Such preposterous proposals compete for very limited funding with massive river sediment diversion projects and raise the hopes of at risk residents, despite being manifestly out of sync with the scale of the problem and the force of hurricanes.

The Wallace-Wells article cited above projects an 8 degree rise in Fahrenheit temperature and an 8 to 10 ft rise in global sea level by the end of the century, which would of course be added to the ongoing effects of coastal subsidence and geologic faulting. This dire projection cannot be reconciled with the following quote from a far more optimistic piece for Restore by Estelle Robichaux, who holds the position of Senior Restoration Project Analyst with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF):

The mean global temperature is predicted to increase by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit before 2100. This temperature increase will result in 15 to 40 inches of increased sea levels.

These projections do not reflect the worst case sea level rise scenario projected by Wallace-Wells, which would overwhelm the interventions proposed in the 2017 master plan, even if that popular plan were fully funded and implemented in a timely manner. The retreat of at-risk residents to high ground, the so-called PUHA** alternative to coastal protection and restoration, may become the ultimate survival strategy, unless international, national and state officials wake up to the stark reality of climate change, long before the next eclipse.

*The average annual temperature for the globe between 1951 and 1980 was around 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius). In 2015, the hottest year on record, the temperature was about 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C) warmer than the 1951–1980 base period.

**Pack up and haul ass.

Editor’s note: Two days after posting this article published this piece by Dahlia Lithwick, for whom I have great respect, discussing the need for attorneys to help protect the science community from government interference, especially re climate change info. Her piece describes the new report just released to the NY Times on August 8 that she says warns of an increase in global temperature by the end of the century that is only a fraction of the magnitude described by Revnick. Here’s the quote that has me shaking my head:

…even if humans immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases, the world would still experience at least an additional 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.3 degrees Celsius) of warming over this next century.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A comment on current flooding in our area.
    Some say that the flooding that has occurred in the state is being caused by climate change. Is the fact that areas of the planet that are covered by concrete and buildings also contribute to flooding? Water seeks the path of least resistance and cannot pass through the huge Wal-Mart parking lot surfaces. Could there possibly be a way to mitigate this problem? What are your thoughts?

    • Anonymous-
      IMHO recent flooding episodes in our area reflect a combination of (1) reduced landscape for infiltration AND (2) extreme rainfall events that exceed long term records and fit the predictions of climate change modelers. The former issue can be addressed by substituting permeable parking lot surfaces, such as crushed limestone, for the traditional asphalt. Addressing the latter issue would require serious reductions in GHG emissions that have been ruled out at the federal level by our Nazi-sympathizing prez.

      • Anonymous says:

        Now, now, the majority rules in a democracy. Let’s be respectful of the POTUS. He received the majority of Louisiana’s votes. I could not vote for Hillary (Killary)the baby killer. Her agenda is a lot more dangerous than GHG. Remember the Nazi’s.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yep. They used a lethal gas, not CO2.

          • Anonymous-
            I assume that you’re a man who therefore never faced pregnancy issues. Perhaps that explains why you’re strangely more concerned with keeping fetuses alive (until they’re born, start breathing and actually feel pain) than by the growing number of living babies who tragically die every day in the painful throes of starvation, cholera and dysentery — all because of drought and other signs of human-caused global warming.

  2. Kelly Haggar says:

    The mineral sediment loading of the modern Mississippi River Delta: what is the restoration baseline?
    by R. Eugene Turner
    J Coast Conserv; DOI 10.1007/s11852-017-0547-z
    Received: 25 May 2016 /Revised: 19 July 2017 /Accepted: 6 August 2017

    Last line of his abstract:

    The choice of which baseline is used can be seen as a choice between unrealistic perceptions that leads to unachievable goals and agency failures, or, the realism of a delta size limited by current sediment loading.

    Back to just Kelly: Once upon a time, you (Len) were very fond of Turner’s “knowledge-” vs. “ignorance-” based planning paper. No clue here if his latest will garner that same level of appreciation.

    “How much data is required to support Decision X about Problem Y?” is NOT a question science can answer. It’s barely even a question law can answer; see the 1977 case the Corps lost on gates in the Chef and Rigolets. Those types of questions are value judgments. Depending upon one’s ethical or religious point of view, the answers to those questions can also be crimes, sins, or merely bad judgments. The Italians reversed the convictions of all the geologists in the fatal quake case, but not of the gummit official who made a public reassurance which went beyond the state of geological knowledge. His conviction was affirmed. (The correct calls, IMHO.)

    QED, worries about (grand)children continuing to live in Louisiana because we aren’t taking Len’s preferred warming responses are not matters any amount of “Science” can answer. J.P. Morgan’s classic advice to the nervous man, “Then sell until you get to the sleeping point.” Risk tolerance is a personal thing. Math may be able to quote odds but it can’t make toleration decisions. Right this very minute New Orleans is packed with people who now realize they’re much more vulnerable to rain than they previously believed. And just after FEMA took a bunch of them out of the “flood” zone. What will they do? At most, “Science” can offer risk abatement projections. How they chose to alter their regs (if any) or spend their money is neither a science nor a factual question.

    “Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.” No changes have been made.

    • Kelly-
      You’re really reaching to quote my support for a paper written long ago by my grad student contemporary R. Eugene Turner, who has been a long term opponent of river sediment diversion projects, a subject on which he and I strongly disagree but don’t take personally. As for my grandson Hudson, science plays a huge role in my concern for his future.
      The main premise of this post is that the coming eclipse should reinforce confidence in the power of science re the issue of global warming. This premise is reinforced by this article by Bryan Gaensler published on August 17 in

      • Kelly Haggar says:

        Glad you don’t take either factual or policy disagreements personally. Would that more people felt that way.

        • Ed Bodker says:

          Kelly, thanks for posting the reference to Gene’s recently published paper regarding baseline restoration questions.

          This paper was well researched and written. Whether one disagrees or agrees with it, it raises scientific questions, which should be addressed. If the issues raised in this paper are not addressed as a scientific review by the restoration community, then respect for the scientific process becomes a hollow claim. The reason it’s important is because, there is so much money involved in restoration that it can easily be manipulated in the name of science to justify political and vested interest. Gene is a critical and honest researcher and this sort of blanket dismissal of this work, whether personal or not is unwarranted. Stay with the science or be clear about what is opinion. This paper has a lot to say about climate change even though the subject is more specific and nuanced.

          • Kelly Haggar says:

            Thx. Just posted some URLs on the semi-related topic of “how can we rationally plan?” to your FB page. I’ve posted 2 more comments here on this topic. For some reason I don’t understand, the number of comments increases but the text does not appear. No clue why.

  3. Kelly Haggar says:

    My “Weekly Digest” from Academia popped up this am. First paper is “Saving Earth: Encountering Heidegger’s Philosophy of Technology in the Anthropocene” by Jochem Zwier and Vincent Blok. They’re Dutch phil profs at a pair of universities; Radboud and Wageningen. Last lines from their abstract are:

    “. . . the Anthropocene is ambiguous insofar as it both accords and discords with what Heidegger calls the ‘danger’ of technology. In light of this ambiguity, the Earth gains ontic-ontological status, and we therefore argue that Heidegger’s unidirectional consideration concerning the relation between being and beings must be reoriented. We conclude that the Anthropocene entails that Heidegger’s consideration of the “saving power” of technology as well as the comportment of ‘releasement’ must become Earthbound, thereby introducing us to a saving Earth.”

    Made me wonder what possible connection there could be between at least a fellow traveler of Nazis and saving the Earth. A brief hunt lead me to these few lines from “Understanding Heidegger on Technology” by Mark Blitz, The New Atlantis, Number 41 ~ Winter 2014:

    “We cannot construct meaningful distance and direction, or understand the opportunities for action, from science’s neutral, mathematical understanding of space and time. Indeed, this detached and ‘objective’ scientific view of the world restricts our everyday understanding. Our ordinary use of things and our “concernful dealings” within the world are pathways to a more fundamental and more truthful understanding of man and being than the sciences provide; science flattens the richness of ordinary concern. By placing science back within the realm of experience from which it originates, and by examining the way our scientific understanding of time, space, and nature derives from our more fundamental experience of the world, Heidegger, together with his teacher Husserl and some of his students such as Jacob Klein and Alexandre Koyré, helped to establish new ways of thinking about the history and philosophy of science.” See:

    [BTW, that issue has other articles directly on Len’s point about science and climate, most notably “Toward a Conservative Policy on Climate Change; Lee Lane on clashing worldviews, green politics, and a path forward” and “Gambling with Global Warming; Lowell Pritchard on risk and uncertainty in environmental economics.”]

    Hmmmm. Maybe we can save barrels of digital ink and a lot of time just by recalling that while “Science” can make a B-29 and a Fat Man, no branch of it can tell us whether or not using one to drop it on the Japanese was a good idea. (The other way to think about the B-29 is when Santa Claus tells a young Natalie Wood that little boys always ask him for B-29s but he never gives them one . . . because they have no use for it.)

    “Science says X therefore we must do Y.” Isn’t that what philos folks call a “non-sequitur?”

  4. Kelly Haggar says:

    Perhaps the initial premise of Len’s post needs some adjustment?

      • Kelly Haggar says:

        “Some of this science, like elevation instruments, are also used to detect symptoms of climate change, like rising sea levels.”

        The author does not seem to know some of those tide gauges are reporting falling sea level. That’s because they are in rocks which are climbing. Other gauges are in mud which is sinking, so they overstate the water rise.

        Climate is a VERY complicated set of numerous issues.

        • The complexity and uncertainty of the consequences of climate change are exactly why inaction on reducing the rate of change is indefensible.
          BTW, the fact that some coasts are rebounding while ours sinks gives me small comfort for the future of my grandson so long as he lives in Louisiana.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous 61 here!!!
    A simple question: If Antarctica has an annual average temperature of -30 degrees F., how can the ice melt there by a temp increase of 4 degrees C.? Am I missing something?

    • Anon-
      Average temperature is an abstract concept, whereas high temperatures are empirical. Also, the loss of floating sea ice dramatically reduces the reflectivity or albedo of ocean water, which dramatically increases its temperature:

      • Anonymous says:

        Some scientist claim that the reduction of the salinity of the oceans will change the historical ocean current patterns resulting in a cooling effect as experienced in the mid ages. Is there any validity to that claim.

        • The ocean conveyance system is predicted to weaken with climate change, which could, for example, eliminate the effectiveness of the Gulf Stream to distribute heated water from the tropics to keep Europe livable. In other word the consequences of this change would be at least as disastrous to humans as what Wallace-Wells describes.

  6. Anonymous says:

    After commenting with Kelly Haggar, I’m under the impression that the “…Pack up and haul ass” plan is becoming more recognized as a stoic alternative to inadequate restoration efforts. Mr. Haggar concludes that direct efforts at averting future increases in carbon emissions are futile and therefore the only wise alternative is for civilization to retreat from coastal areas. I can’t argue that restoration plans will make much difference, if greenhouse gasses are not mitigated but I don’t see coastal retreat on a global level as very practical without catastrophic results and I’m not yet willing to conclude that humanity is so politically inept that it’s hopeless to consider changing our carbon emitting habits.

    So I’m left with the question: Where is the realistic hope in all this? …anyone have some positive vision of the future they are willing to share?

    • Kelly Haggar says:

      Sorry, running low on hope this am. This is so sad I don’t even know where to begin:

      As to “humanity is so politically inept that it’s hopeless to consider changing our carbon emitting habits,” consider the Field Poll for 2014. (They were the “Gallup of California” for decades; universally seen as the gold standard of CA polling but closed up in Dec ’16 so it’s not on-line anymore. My original PDF copy is on another machine not running right now.)

      Discussed that 2014 poll w/Mayor Mitch after his lunch talk at State of the Coast 2016 (where I was a speaker). By 65-35 across every demo, CA folk supported their state’s carbon strategy. Even the Rs in Orange County! But, BUT, as soon as “prices at the pump” or “rates on the meter” or “risk to your job” was brought up, EVERY one of those same demos flipped to 35-65 against. Everyone was willing to save the planet PROVIDED it did not personally cost them anything. I don’t know how to make that sale.

      Sorry again for my other broken record, but if the great bulk of geology folks are correct, not even making all the carbon changes will save a lot of our coast – – and by extension every other delta around the globe with our same characteristics.

      Off to hear possible avulsion scenarios at lunch. Next week it’s Together Baton Rouge’s next flood session.

      Maybe the people who like beer are on to something???

  7. Kelly Haggar says:

    First, since it’s pretty obvious we aren’t going to make the policy and spending changes sought by the warmers, maybe we should instead shift our thinking towards coping with the changes? Even if the warmers are 100% correct, they’ve lost the policy fight, so we aren’t going to avert the grim future they see. Doesn’t matter if reality is twice as grim or half as grim as Mann sees it. That fight is over.

    Second, if we do shift to “coping” instead of “averting,” are we spending our money wisely?

    Mitch Landrieu: Cedric Grant’s climate change comments after flood were ‘tone-deaf,’ ‘out-of-context’
    Advocate staff report AUG 7, 2017 – 3:03 PM (3)

    New Orleans is drying out after torrential rains flooded parts of the city for the second time in two weeks. The City Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday. Members say they want proof the drainage system is working.

    Sewerage and Water Board spokeswoman Lisa Jackson says there was just too much rain, too fast. The city can pump out an inch of rain in the first hour and one-half-inch each hour after that.

    She says one station got 9.4 inches in three hours Saturday.

    Could “PUHA” become attractive . . . even inside a levee? There’s a classic study on PSA’s – – “public service announcements” – – back about 1978 on ad campaigns for pap smears vs motorcycle helmets. Generations of MPAs (masters public admin) students have had it on their reading lists. Both cost (back then) about $5,000 per life saved. But the results were very different. The smears saved the lives mainly of women in their 50s. The helmets? Young white men in their 20s. Run a “DFE” (discounted future earnings) on those two cohorts and you get VERY different curves. The payback for the young men is like x3 or x4 of the older women. They make more money and they have 30 years more working time ahead of them. So the bang-for-the-buck/rumble-for-the-ruble is WAY higher for the brats than for the Miss Doves. (Len and I are old enough to recall the book and movie “Good Morning, Miss Dove.” I thought about her in the life raft during water survival, Jun ’75. You youngsters look her up.)

    Hmmmm. $1.7 big ones for the Mid-Barataria Diversion (MBD). How many houses in New Orleans could we jack-up or buy-out for that much money? 1/2 in of rain the second hour onward. What would it cost to get 1 in/hr protection? OK, OK, let’s stay with the notion that sprigs of Spartina on mud flats a few inches above a steady state sea level are essential for the levees to survive surge. I don’t buy that for a whole host of reasons (example: those flats will be submerged by several feet a day or more before the eye makes landfall; just how much drag index gain do we get from Spartina in such cases?), plus let’s also pretend we don’t know about MIT’s both wave tank experiments and instrumented marsh trials. Instead of waiting 30-50 years to get those mud flats, why don’t we anchor some barges at numerous headings and varied spaces with tall poles or beams in front of the levees? Steel cheniers, so to speak. Poles instead of live oaks. THAT will get us some increase in drag index. But ENOUGH of an increase? How many barges/poles in what arrangement, spacing, and orientation will it take to get the same degree of surge height reduction at the toe of levee reach X around New Orleans as the MBD will offer? “Poles/barges” are just a tool. (I didn’t even think of it; it was proposed in 2006 by a contract FEMA worker in St. Bernard.) Maybe the engineers have a dozen other ways of getting such results?

    Bottom line: I think we can be whole lot smarter and more effective with our money than the current Master Plan projects.

    P.S. Notice that – – like Len – – I’m completely ignoring the geology of the coast.

    • Anonymous says:

      The policy fight is over only for those who want it to be. Responsible thinkers will continue to work hard and will gain support as others realize policy battles are necessary to reduce the causes of increasing climate consequences. “Coping” as a form of climate warming denial is a disservice to all, especially children and those who work trying to mitigate the direct causes.

      • Kelly Haggar says:


        Who is denying what? Consider this:

        • Anonymous says:

          The article you quote seems to argue against your suggestion to cope with it. Policy changes intended to mitigate climate change (reducing greenhouse gasses) are not the same as policies aimed at trying to cope with the impacts of climate change. Your referenced article argues against the likely success of coping with impacts. Without addressing the causes of climate warming, impact coping becomes a form of denial. Hence, many in Louisiana accept that wetlands are disappearing but deny that climate warming is a serious concern.

          • Kelly Haggar says:


            Then try any of the others:


            “Coping” is a large place. The US of A had a discussion, albeit a brief one, about the utility and cost-benefit of keeping New Orleans after Katrina. Should the levees fail a second time, that discussion will be longer. And I’ll take bets the next answer after levee failure will be “No.” (Keep in mind that “overtop” and “breach” are different problems. The splash pads are an attempt to prevent an overtop from growing into a breach. A III can overtop the present levees.)

            But the main point of the talk I cited was that “restoration = climate denial.” Can the diversions out climb a rising sea? No. (And that’s ignoring every aspect of the varied subsidence question, any one of which is likely to be fatal to diversion success even if we somehow manage to stabilize sea level . . . which we can’t.)

            That’s one of several reasons why I’m starting to hear predictions that diversion money will wind up in levees.

            I cited the 1978 pap smear/helmet study because there’s only so much money while the demands are infinite. If you really believe you can one day convince a majority of the US voters to support carbon controls, etc, then by all means keep up your efforts. But I don’t think you can sway enough voters, nor do I believe such efforts can alter the future of the climate, much less change geological factors.

            • Anonymous says:

              You seem to be saying carbon emissions cannot be mitigated because the politics necessary to address them are carved in stone and that it’s futile to work for change. That sounds cynical, but it may work well to maintain the status quo and serve as a strategy to deny climate warming is a serious man made problem. But if you think pontificating defeatism is the best rout then by all means keep up your efforts.

              • Kelly Haggar says:


                One of us has correctly located the carbon program within the “Overton window.” Or, as Edward C. Banfield observed in 1968 in The Unheavenly City, (from memory; book is in storage) “The effective measures are not feasible, while the feasible measures are not effective.” If that’s “defeatism” in your book, fine. Below you’ll find the phrase “develop rational strategies.” But both Overton and Banfield say “rational” must further fall within the range of what the voting public will accept. I agree w/them.

                Meanwhile, here’s a little more of the “Big Picture” to think about:

                Channel morphology changes below the Old River Control Structure: Is there a risk for the Mississippi River switching to the Atchafalaya?
                by Dr. Y. Jun Xu Louisiana State University School of Renewable Natural Resources


                The Mississippi River Delta faces an uncertain future as sea level keeps rising while the land continues to subside. To protect the coastal landscape, communities, and economic future, the State of Louisiana developed a Master Plan in 2007 with technical tools that are used as a framework to assist implementing various restoration and protection projects. In its latest Master Plan draft of 2017, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has outlined a $50 billion investment for 120 projects designed to build and maintain coastal Louisiana. These projects are well intended and are normally backed up with scientific data analysis. However, they are all developed under the assumption that the Mississippi River (MR) would remain on its current course, which is artificially maintained through a control structure built in 1963 (a.k.a. the Old River Control Structure, or ORCS) after it was realized that the river attempted to change its course back to its old river channel – the Atchafalaya River (AR). [He’s talking about Fisk’s 1952 study. I’ll post a link if you want to read it.] Since the ORCS is in operation of controlling only about 25% of the MR flow into the AR, little attention has been paid to the importance of possible riverbed changes downstream the avulsion node on the MR course switch. As one of the largest alluvial rivers in the world, the MR avulsed and created a new course every 1,000-1,500 years in the past. [Frazier 1967 disagrees; 16 deltas in 8,000 years is a mean of 500 years, although Frazier mapped a lot of overlap and much variation in delta duration.] From a fluvial geomorphology point of view, alluvial rivers avulse when two conditions are met: 1) a sufficient in-channel aggradation which makes the river poised for an avulsion, and 2) a major flood which triggers realization of the avulsion. In our ongoing study on sediment transport and channel morphology of the lower Mississippi River, we found that the first 30-mile reach downstream the ORCS has been experiencing rapid bed aggradation and channel narrowing in the past three decades. A mega flood could be a triggering point to overpower the man-made ORCS and allow the river finally abandon its current channel – the MR main stem. This is not a desirable path and, for that reason, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will do everything possible to prevent it from happening. [They – – we? – – just got lucky in1973???] However, nature has its own mechanism of choosing river flows, which do not bow to our expectation: the 2016 summer flood in South Louisiana and the recent Oroville Dam crisis in California are just two examples. The MR river flow has been increasing over the past century. The river is projected to further increase its flow volume as global temperature continues to rise and hydrologic cycle intensifies, i.e. evapotranspiration rates will increase and rain storms will become more intense on a warming earth. Additionally, rapid urbanization in the river basin will create conditions that foster the emergence of mega floods. It would be impractical to spend considerable resources for a river delta without assessing the future avulsion risk of the river upstream. My presentation [discusses] the possibility of a Mississippi River avulsion, its consequences, as well as what assessment data we need to develop rational strategies.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Where do you find hope, if a third of the earth’s population is destined to be relocated or flooded? It sounds like you are assuming we will just adjust to it with some yet undeveloped rational strategies, and therefore there is no need to consider it now. This post is about global climate change and you keep trying to make it a criticism of Louisiana restoration projects…two different conversations.

                  • Kelly Haggar says:

                    Thoughts –

                    “we will just adjust to it” Well, the local Indians did for 7,900 years. The middens tell us where they lived and what they ate, and if it was a fresh or a salt water species. Only in the last 100 years have they switched over to the Western policy of remaining in place. Their actual legacy was to follow the river; move when it did. We’re the ones trying to cage the Miss Rvr into a constant place. Deltas will rise and fall, just as they have for time immemorial. And this latest projection of a few meters of rise by 2100 is a nothing burger on the planet’s scale. Before this current still stand, this “one brief, shining moment,” the previous Gulf was 400 ft shallower and 100 miles out to sea. That was only 18K ago. There were still mastodons and saber teeth for about half the 10K of melt, -18K ago to -8K ago. Frazier found stumps 100 ft below the sunlight in 30 ft of submerged mud many miles out from any scrap of current land. Kulp has found wood chunks out there. Several LSU grad stus are writing up the former cypress forest/stumps off Mobile; 47K to 52K years before present. (That was the previous glacier melt phase.)

                    “no need to consider [warming] now” That’s the exact opposite of my position. I’m arguing that the most rational response within the most probable Overton window width is not to try and avert the warming but instead to make the most controlled, planned, intentional, decomissioning of the least survivable areas of where a “third of the earth’s population is destined to be relocated.” Triage first. Don’t throw good money after bad. Don’t offer false hope. Don’t make promises we can’t keep. 1932 isn’t coming back, and that’s true even if the sea levels off tomorrow morning and stays there.

                    “global climate change” and “Louisiana restoration projects” [are] “two different conversations” No, they aren’t. Instead they are flip sides of the same coin. That’s Prof Ed’s main point at Tulane in 2014. The more you believe the sea will rise 6 or 8 or 10 ft in the next 80 years, the less sense it makes to try diversions. All three “Changing Course” teams reached essentially the same conclusion about the future of the coast. Those out-briefs could be a whole seminar by themselves. I’ve read all three final reports and heard two of them present at the bi-annual National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER) last year in Fla. (For 2018 NCER comes to New Orleans, so there’s lots of time to think about going and/or presenting. I had a poster at NCER 2016.)

                    Finally, of course the Overton window opens and closes. “Politics is the art of the possible.” That’s why real leaders get out on the stump and attempt to make public opinion. This is hardly a new problem. See Edmund Burke, Speech to the Electors of Bristol, 3 Nov. 1774, Works 1: 446-48, available at: Law changes when hearts and minds do, not the other way ‘round. Both law and politics are downstream of culture. (Budgets are even further downstream; elections matter.) But in its own way, so is “science.” Read the other half of Ike’s Farewell Address. His second warning was about the capture of science by gummit money. That’s a big part of the reason we have so-called “Republican wars on science” and such a strong need for more “Honest Brokers.”

                    Thus, I’ll end repeating where I began. The warmers had more than a fair chance to make the case that their program was both required and effective. They haven’t succeeded, and I doubt they ever will. So it’s time to think about how to best spend the little BP money we do have.

                    • Anonymous says:

                      You’ve made it clear that you think it’s futile to try to avert additional warming.

                      And you’ve made it clear that you think most of Louisiana restoration projects are doomed for failure.

                      And you’ve made it clear you think the best response is to do like nomadic civilizations.

                      Makes me scratch my head but I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Maybe Native Americans did have a better way of relating to nature.

  8. Thank you, Mike.

  9. mike beck says:

    As in:


    Michael Mann, Professor of Meteorology, PennState University:
    The article paints an overly bleak picture by overstating some of the science. It exaggerates for example, the near-term threat of climate “feedbacks” involving the release of frozen methane (the science on this is much more nuanced and doesn’t support the notion of a game-changing, planet-melting methane bomb. It is unclear that much of this frozen methane can be readily mobilized by projected warming).

    Also, I was struck by erroneous statements like this one referencing “satellite data showing the globe warming, since 1998, more than twice as fast as scientists had thought.”

    That’s just not true. The study in question simply showed that one particular satellite temperature dataset that had tended to show *less* warming that the other datasets, has now been brought in line with the other temperature data after some problems with that dataset were dealt with.

    Ironically, I am a co-author of a recent article in the journal Nature Geoscience (see e.g. this piece), using that very same new, corrected, satellite dataset, that shows that past climate model simulations slightly **over-predicted** the actual warming during the first decade of the 21st century, likely because of a mis-specification of natural factors like solar variations and volcanic eruptions. Once these are accounted for, the models and observations are pretty much in line—the warming of the globe is pretty much progressing AS models predicted… which is bad enough.

    The evidence that climate change is a serious problem that we must contend with now, is overwhelming on its own. There is no need to overstate the evidence, particularly when it feeds a paralyzing narrative of doom and hopelessness.

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