Accuracy in Media

In a recent report, BuzzFeed writes that unless society changes its wicked ways then as soon as 2,000 years in the future New Orleans could be below sea level.

That much of New Orleans is currently 9 feet below sea level seems to have escaped notice. The bias here is the desire to present some bloodcurdling disaster to accompany the COP26 meetings in Scotland this week. As part of that process of persuasion, we should all give up living in a modern society and retreat to the lifestyle of medieval peasants.

The claim made is that the planet will warm by three degrees this century. That’s an overestimate of what’s likely to happen by the usual measures even if the alarmists like to claim it as being possible. Then the claim is made that such warming would bring with it rising sea levels. That part is at least logically substantiated.

But it’s buried down in paragraph 23 that we get this: “So jumping to 2,000 years in the future, Robert Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University, expects water levels to be somewhere between 13 feet to more than 30 feet above current levels.”

That’s a ridiculous projection into the future. It’s like arguing that Julius Caesar shouldn’t have gone to Britain because only 2,000 years later there would be Nazis.

More, it’s assuming that a 3-degree rise this century – the thing which already isn’t likely to happen – would just be allowed to carry on for another 1900 years. No one would do anything about it, no one would invent a new technology, even, no one would start to build away from those rising waters.

Those seas that New Orleans is already below, of course.

This is scaremongering. BuzzFeed gets 200 million monthly visitors, 160 million monthly U.S. readers and reaches some 60% of U.S. millennials. All of whom deserve better and more balanced coverage of important issues than this.

Projections of thousands of years in the future simply are not responsible speculation. Sea level rises in anything like the reasonable future are going to be limited to amounts that we already deal with. Even the fearsomely described here projections to 2100 are of two feet – one quarter of what New Orleans already deals with as do a number of other places.

There are climate change problems and worries but the immediate inundation of major cities simply isn’t one of them.

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