The brutal math begins

At $60 million a mile, the Keys may abandon some roads to sea rise rather than raise them

Miami Herald 12/5/2019

Elevating less than three miles of Old State Road 4A on Sugarloaf Key to withstand sea rise and king tide by 2025 could cost $75 million, Monroe’s head of resilience revealed at a sea level rise conference in Key West on Wednesday. Elevating for 2045 could cost $128 million. And by 2060, that price tag could soar to $181 million.

The county has 314 miles of road to care for — or choose to abandon. Half of them are susceptible to sea rise in the next 20 years. The cost to keep them dry has county government officials openly questioning whether the math is worth it.

“Are we really going to spend $128 million to elevate three miles of road where 30 people live? It’s not up to me, but I don’t think so,” said Rhonda Haag, Monroe County’s head of resilience.

That’s $4.2 million per resident displaced, just to raise the road. Would it not be far cheaper to simply buy the property, condemn it, and deal with reality? These decisions are going to keep arising in the years to come, and will not get less expensive.

Insurance companies refusing to insure new coal plants

Coal power becoming ‘uninsurable’ as firms refuse cover (sic)
The Guardian, 12/2/2020

The number of insurers withdrawing cover for coal projects more than doubled this year and for the first time US companies have taken action, leaving Lloyd’s of London and Asian insurers as the “last resort” for fossil fuels, according to a new report.

The report, which rates the world’s 35 biggest insurers on their actions on fossil fuels, declares that coal – the biggest single contributor to climate change – “is on the way to becoming uninsurable” as most coal projects cannot be financed, built or operated without insurance.

The first insurers to exit coal policies were all European, but since March, two US insurers – Chubb and Axis Capital – and the Australian firms QBE and Suncorp have pledged to stop or restrict insurance for coal projects.

At least 35 insurers with combined assets of $8.9tn, equivalent to 37% of the insurance industry’s global assets, have begun pulling out of coal investments. A year ago, 19 insurers holding more than $6tn in assets were divesting from fossil fuels.

This is definitely the end game for coal. Governments could step in to create insurance pools for coal companies, but 1) these pools would likely cost more and cover less, and 2) the public will not be happy with tax funds being used to prop up coal plants.

The next, more catastrophic insurance industry move will be when these companies and their re-insurers (like SwissRe) refuse to write polices for coastal areas because of escalating flood and hurricane threats. When that happens, governments will either have to underwrite the risk at tax payer expense, or see the entire housing market for those areas collapse.

Jerk climate denier admits climate in peril, still acts like jerk

James May, Jeremy Clarkson, and Richard Hammond

In a BBC story running today, former Top Gear host, Jeremy Clarkson, finally admitted things were awry with the climate during a recent visit to Vietnam.

“Climate change was very definitely rammed down our throats in Cambodia,” Clarkson says of filming this special, which sees the rivers considerably shallower than they should be.

“You can say that the Chinese have dammed the rivers and caused the problem, but it also wasn’t raining, and it should’ve been bucketing down all the time. And all the fishermen say ‘the climate is changing’. So you can’t sit there and say, ‘there’s no such thing as climate change’.

Yay, I guess. The BBC is a bit more charitable about his “change of heart”, than me. But, Clarkson, being Clarkson, must ever be a boorish ass.

“Now, if I wanted to, I could run around the world on carbon fibre yachts, shouting and yelling and wailing,” he adds – a clear reference to the actions of the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

“Or, you can just acknowledge it, and then behind the scenes start working on how we address this problem. But we don’t offer any solutions, we’re not scientists, only scientists can come up with solutions. Politicians can’t. Weird Swedes can’t. Only scientists can.

Always nice to see sneering and insulting condescension by a grown man leveled at a teenage girl who had the audacity to be right. For the record, the “weird Swede’s” message has been constant: “Listen to the scientists!”

While we are happy to see Clarkson admit his error, we think he should leave any further commentary to expert teenage Swedish girls, and stick to what he is best at, being a first class lout, and beating his underlings when they displease him.

The time for excuses and argument is over

“There are no excuses left”:
Why climate science deniers are running out of rope
The Guardian, 10/17/2020

Audible in the background is the drumbeat of new science, data piling on data showing how close we are coming to disaster. In 2007, I watched the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emerge bleary-eyed from an all-night session in Paris where they faced down vested interests to warn emissions must peak by the early 2020s to avoid dangerous climate change. By 2013, in the fifth report in Stockholm, they predicted it would be 30 years before the 2C threshold would be breached. Last year, in the starkest warning yet, the IPCC gave us 12 years to reverse direction.

Our climate knowledge has increased vastly in 15 years. No one can now plausibly say there is not enough data, or that we lack the technology, or that saving the climate is too expensive. All of these pretexts have been exploded by patient scientific work. There are no excuses left and now it is up to journalists to ensure there are no more hiding places either, in the boardrooms, on the websites of fake news, behind the facade of populism. That is what the Guardian has committed to do, with a clear focus on the climate emergency. Even if that upsets some people in the corridors of power: there can be pride in being the worst, if that’s what it means.