Thursday, July 20, 2006

This News Flash: Water Is Still Wet

This editorial appeared this morning in the Bucks County Courier Times.

Experts agree: Nobody to blame for the flood

Good news and bad news came out of Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick's flood hearing this week. The good news is there's nobody to blame. Not the developers, not the up-river reservoir operators, not the folks who stood in the way of the dam, not even global warming.

No, the flood was caused by, get this, lots of rain.

The bad news is - there's nobody to blame.
This excerpt appeared in this news article by Courier Times reporter Pamela Batzel.

...Mary Shafer, the local author of “Devastation on the Delaware,” a book about the 1955 flood published in October, maintained that global warming and development are significant factors in the recent spate of high water that has overtaken riverside communities.

Development is having a “huge impact,” she said. The amount of surface covered by buildings, parking lots and other structures has “grown exponentially” since the 1950s, she said. Logically, it means more water is running into tributaries and then into the river, she said.

At the same time, some believe global warming is causing more intense hurricanes and changing weather patterns generally. The most recent flood was due to tropical moisture that came up on a jet stream “taking a strange pattern” for this time of year, Shafer said. It “has to do with the oceans being so warm,” which is a result of the Earth heating up.

Shafer acknowledged she is not a meteorologist but said that she’s well-studied and that, “privately, [experts] will admit a lot of the anecdotal evidence points to global warming.”

And that leaves anybody who has an interest in preventing future floods scratching their heads.

We don't mean to treat a serious situation un-seriously (sure you don't). The recent flood - the third one in less than two years - is causing a lot of expense and heartache for a lot of people. So, naturally, people want to point a finger. Beyond the therapeutic value of laying blame, it gives us something to fix or stop or change.

So, how do you stop rain?

The obvious answer is you don't. You either find ways to protect areas given to flooding, or you help people living or working in a flood area to move out. And despite the impression that Delaware River floods are a newly recurring phenomenon, fact is the river has a history of flood clusters.

As we reported Monday, the river overflowed its banks twice between March 1902 and October 1903, twice between 1913 and 1914, twice between 1940 and 1942, and twice between 1984 and 1986.
Here is more from Batzel’s article on the overflows the editorial just mentioned.

Take the two floods that hit the region in March 1902 and October 1903. The river crested in Trenton at 3.6 feet above flood stage on March 2. In the fall of the following year, it crested at 28.5 feet, or 8.5 feet above flood stage.

The region also suffered floods in doubles between 1913 and 1914, 1940 and 1942, and 1984 and 1986, although those floods were less severe. The worst of the six floods only exceeded flood stage by 1.2 feet in Trenton.

So let’s step back and take a look at this, OK? It sounds like the recent flooding (three times in 18 months) is comparable to the flooding in 1902 and 1903, but not to the flooding from 1913 to 1986 in terms of the number of feet that exceeded the flood stage. For the Courier Times to make it sound like all of the previous flooding is comparable to what we have recently experienced is highly disingenuous to say the least.

So let the finger-pointing come to an end. And let's focus attention on getting people out of their homes and businesses if they're inclined, or elevated if that's what they prefer.
Of course, the editorial could also address this great post from Above Average Jane which has gone unanswered by Mikey and his minions (and it will probably remain that way); namely, why was it necessary for Fitzpatrick to hold his hearings when, as a member of the Delaware River Basin Commission (along with Jim Gerlach), he should have been aware of the issues related to the flooding anyway?

(I mean, the editorial COULD ask that question, but they won’t of course because the paper doesn’t wish to be impertinent. After all, the Courier Times recently published a Guest Opinion by a writer who noted that Fitzpatrick voted against HR 810 in favor of stem cell research after saying he supported it when campaigning for his current House seat, but the paper went out of its way in the Guest Opinion to note that Fitzpatrick is apparently reconsidering stem cell development, but only not from a blastocyst, which, at this stage of development in this promising science, is little more than a theoretical concept concerning humans.)

So, as far as the Courier Times is concerned, we’re just supposed to trust Mother Nature and Saint Mikey, and the residents of Yardley borough are supposed to do little more than hope our Repug house representative actually decides to follow up on his proposed federally subsidized elevation plan (noted in Batzel’s article) and pray that they don’t get clobbered again.

Oh, and by the way, I guess this was just “an accident of nature” also that had no relation to global warming or climate change, huh (especially coming upon the heels of the recent flooding).

One more thing: to help Bucks County flooding victims, click here.


beepbeepitsme said...

"Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed." Thomas Henry Huxley

Having said this, who stands to benefit from adopting a creed concerning global climate change?

Who stands to benefit economically and politically by muddying the scientific pond?

My advice on all things >> "Follow the money."

The fossil fuel industries stand to lose billions of dollars.

They benefit economically and politically by muddying the scientific pond.

doomsy said...

It never ceases to amaze me how certain individuals absolutely cannot see that all the money in the world doesn't mean anything if the planet is ruined...thanks for checking in.