Under the Dome

Sea-level rise adviser returns to General Assembly

Some state legislators are still fighting the global warming battle that they lost last year when they failed to stop the use of scientific data to predict how much the sea will rise along the coastline. That battle ended in a stalemate, with a four-year moratorium on the Coastal Resources Commission authorizing sea-level forecasts to be used as the basis for regulations, while the issue is studied.

Rep. George Cleveland, a five-term Republican from Jacksonville, invited fellow lawmakers to hear a presentation in the statehouse auditorium by John Droz on Wednesday. Several dozen legislators and others showed up to hear Droz, who was scientific adviser to the group of 20 counties that tried to tie sea-level rise predictions to historic trends rather than climate science that predicts a faster rise and a bigger impact on coastal development.

Droz, who made a living in real estate investment, has degrees in physics, mathematics and solid state science. A fellow of the conservative American Traditions Institute (whose motto is “Restoring science, accountability and liberty to the environmental policy debate”), the Morehead City resident is a frequent speaker promoting the idea that political interests have corrupted science to their own advantage.

Droz equates wind energy, for instance, as an outmoded idea comparable to the horse-and-buggy era of transportation. He discredits the notion of peer-reviewed scientific research: “There are tens of thousands of scientists who are not practicing real science” without being punished, he said. “… Instead, what typically transpires is they get funded by special advocacy groups who want to take advantage of their science credentials to promote some economic or political agenda.”

He says environmental activists use data selectively, and discounts their use of computer model predictions.

“None of this has anything to do with science, and everything to do with giving up our freedoms,” Droz told the audience, which included some of those environmentalists that he warns about.

One of them, recently retired Environmental Defense Fund scientist Sam Pearsall showed up to counter Droz’s presentation.

“The fact is, the jury is not out on climate change,” Pearsall said afterward. “The criterium by which a jury decides things is whether there is reasonable doubt. The connection between increasing temperature, which is not controversial – it’s documented by thermometers and satellite data from all over the world – that’s not controversial. The role that carbon dioxide and methane play in raising global temperatures is not controversial. It’s been well understood since 1895.”

Asked about Droz, Pearsall said he didn’t consider him to be a scientist. “He probably should characterize himself as a scientific educator, somebody who is trying to teach us about science,” Pearsall said. “I don’t think he has much to say on the subject.”

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