Stupidity on Stilts

Number 6 of a continuing series

The above meme showed up on my Facebook feed, and I grabbed it up.

I call this series “Stupidity on Stilts,” because first there is stupidity, but when you want to elevate it even more you need to put it on stilts. There are people who do just this, some even get paid to do it. One Ben Shapiro, “an American conservative political commentator, writer, and lawyer.” His Wikipedia entry continues:

He has written seven books, the first being 2004’s Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth; Shapiro began writing this book at age 17. Also at age 17, he became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the United States. He writes columns for Creators Syndicate and Newsweek, serves as editor-in-chief for The Daily Wire, which he founded, and hosts The Ben Shapiro Show, a daily political podcast and radio show. He was an editor-at-large of Breitbart News between 2012 and 2016.

That should explain a bunch. “conservative political commentator,” “Creators Syndicate,” and “Breitbart News” provide a clear heads up about what is coming next:

From there, he winds up to deliver the made-for-virality part of his outline: Even if global warming happens, Shapiro asks dramatically, and even if its effects as as disastrous as predicted, aren’t rational, free-market actors already equipped with the tools to deal with it?

Let’s say for the sake of argument that all of the water levels around the world rise by, let’s say, five feet over the next 100 years. Say 10 feet over the next 100 years. And it puts all of the low-lying areas on the coast underwater. Let’s say all of that happens.

Now get ready for the TRUTH BOMB…

You think people aren’t just going to sell their homes and move?

I will give readers about a second and a half to digest that.

Finished? Good! In the interest of pandering to the obvious, let me spell it out.

  • Sea levels are rising. Shapiro acknowledges that.
  • The cause is global warming. Shapiro acknowledges that.
  • Human activity is contributing enormously to global warming. Shapiro acknowledges that (I think).
  • Homes near the coast are going to be under water. Shapiro acknowledges that.
  • No big deal. What!!!!
  • Shapiro says it’s no problem because people whose houses are going to be under water will just sell them and move to higher ground. Really?

Ben. Ben! Who’s going to buy a home that’s going to be under water in a few years? People living in a soon-to-be-flooded area are screwed. Nobody is going to buy their houses. Let me dig deeper.

Suppose your house is going to be flooded, but not for about 50 years. You’re going to be dead by then, even if you may have already relocated for other reasons. But you sell your home anyhow. Somebody purchases your home, and this person knows that in 50 years it’s going to be flooded. He figures like you, that he will be out of there before it’s under water. He’s going to die or sell first.

Sooner or later somebody is going to have to buy a home that’s already threatened by high water. Yeah, this train of events will eventually break down.

Ben, forget about what you learned from studying economics in school. Here is what is going to happen. Property that’s going to be unusable in 50 years will decrease in value over time and reach zero about the time waves start to breach the property line.

Hopefully we are done with that line of reasoning, so we can now take a look at the bigger picture. With rising sea levels the land area of the North American continent will decrease perceptibly. Places where we have, in ignorance or in defiance of climate predictions, built infrastructure and personal and commercial development are going to be under water. They will either be under water, or they are going to be protected by dikes to stave off the sea level rise.

More specifically, roads will need to be elevated, power stations will need to be protected by dikes, electric, water, and sewer facilities are going to have to be drastically restructured. A pile of money will need to be poured into regions near the waterline. This expense will be borne by those directly affected, citizens and businesses in the region, or else the entire country will be called upon to pitch in through their tax dollars.

So, that’s the bad news. And now for the bad news. There is nothing we can do today to stave off catastrophic sea level rise. We waited about a century too long to get started. It is too late to turn the world’s economy around and shed its dependency on fossil fuels. Existing CO2 levels in the atmosphere are sufficient to cause catastrophic sea level rise, and CO2 levels will continue to rise for the next 50 years, despite the best measures we can take now.

In the meantime you might plan ahead and start shopping for some of that prime Orlando beach front property. Ben, are you listening?

One thought on “Stupidity on Stilts

  1. Pingback: Stupidity on Stilts | Skeptical Analysis

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