[extropy-chat] global warming eats island and horseshoe pins

spike spike66 at comcast.net
Sat Dec 30 01:02:29 UTC 2006

> bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of MB
> Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] global warming eats island
> > One more island in
> > the vicinity - Suparibhanga (also called Bedford) - has sunk.
> Hm. Why do I think this sentence tells the real story? Land rises and
> sinks.
> Volcanic activity underseas will do this kind of thing, won't it?
> I'm sure blaming this on global warming is the PC thing to do, but somehow
> I'm really dubious.... Regards, MB

A war was lost for want of a horseshoe pin.

It is bigger than that MB, way bigger.

Consider Florida.  Get on google earth, find Orland and Titusville, look at
that area between them.  Look at the land going north from there.  Notice
that there isn't a hell of a lot of anything out there, but what looks like
a series of lakes, ponds, and swamps.  That area is all low lying unusable
land generally known as the St. Johns river.  Nothing out there but
marijuana plantations, alligators and mosquitoes.  

The St. Johns flows north to Jacksonville, if one uses the term "flows"
rather loosely, for the drop in elevation in those 200-ish kilometers from
highway 46 to the sea is less than 2 meters.  So if the sea level rises even
a little, the salt water interface to the St. John's fresh water moves
inland.  If the sea level rises two meters, all those fishing lakes all the
way up the river become salty as the sea.

When I was about ten, an environmental sciences professor from Florida State
U reported the results of an experiment he had been running for over thirty
years.  He had been sending students out to various places in the St. Johns
to measure the salinity of the water.  He would take all the data each year
and connect the points of equal salinity to form isosalines, analogous to
contour lines connecting equal elevations on a topographic map.

This professor created new maps each year.  The position of each isosaline
jumped around depending on the humidity, rainfall and other factors, but
there was a general trend: the isosalines were moving up river at an average
rate of about 15 meters per year.  

So here is the kicker.  The local newspaper reported the finding, but as
newspapers often do, they fumbled the details regarding students making
measurements in the St. Johns River.  The headline was "Professor claims
salt water interface moving inland at alarming rate."  They went on to
speculate that this could be caused by global warming.  This was significant
as all hell, for in those days there was much debate regarding whether the
earth was warming or cooling.  Even in hot muggy Florida, we were *afraid*
of global cooling.  Global warming was less scary, far less, for we knew if
another ice age came along, we would have even *more* scurrilous New Yorkers
all over the place.  

In any case, it did cause worry, for they didn't really explain the details
of the experiment, or what was meant by salt water interface, only that it
was moving inland at about 15 meters per year.  At the time my family lived
about 300 meters from the Indian River, which was extremely salty.  So I
imagined that in 20 years, the Titusville wells would be pumping seawater,
and that other families lived closer to the river would be moving even

That was 35 years ago, and those wells are still pumping fresh water.  Thru
no fault of the FSU professor, his study was mostly misunderstood by the
masses of the proletariat, which resulted in a great deal of skepticism
regarding the latest pronouncements of the environmental science
groknoscenti.  He wasn't necessarily wrong, just misunderstood, with
enormous consequences.  I studied and dug out the details, but most people
had an actual life, so they did not look into it any further.

Now consider all the large communities on the "banks" of the St. Johns River
(that river has no banks, but that makes my point even stronger here):
Daytona, Orlando, Titusville, Rockledge, Edgewater, Satellite Beach, New
Smyrna Beach, St. Augustine, Port Orange, Holly Hill, Ormond Beach,
Gainsville, Jacksonville, which are just a few of those I can think of off
the top of my head, probably many more, which collectively represent several
million cursed Yankees.  All the proles living in those areas know damn well
that if the sea rises even a little, then they will all be living in yellow

Next step: consider that the presidential election of 2000 was a horseshoe
pin war.  Those two guys running in that year were pretty much alike in
every way except on environmentalism.  (Did they distinguish themselves in
any other way?)  Florida was eventually decided in favor of the global
warming skeptic by a few hundred votes, and Florida tipped the nation in his
favor.  *Anything* that led to environmental skepticism in Florida could
easily have swayed a few hundred horseshoe pin votes.  A perfect example
would be the misunderstanding that the disappearance of Suparibhanga Island
is caused by rising sea levels as a result of global warming.  Jillions of
Floridians *know* by looking out their back door that the sea level hasn't
changed, or if so verrry damn little, for as long as the old timers can
recall.  If the proles don't understand plate tectonics (most voters don't)
they would simply conclude that the global warming people are lying.

So it can be argued that a fumbled headline in a local newspaper in 1970
could have been the horseshoe pin that swayed a few hundred voters to become
environmental science skeptics and tip the election against that man whose
name has long since been forgotten.

In those areas of science which have political overtones, conclusions should
be explained carefully and data analyzed with due diligence, for the
consequences of sloppy science can be enormous as we have seen.




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