We'd be fools to ignore warnings about hurricanes, climate change

September 12, 2017

Last week, Geary Foertsch responded to critics, including me, of his column about President Trump's decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord.

Foertsch began by attempting to correct what I said about him dismissing climate change.

"That's not exactly correct," he wrote. "I don't dismiss climate change. It happens every day."

That's not exactly correct. The weather changes every day. Not the climate. That's the same old game played by people like Sen. Marco Rubio when they're pretending to be serious about climate change.

Here's the definition of climate from "The composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region ... throughout the year, averaged over a series of years."

No wonder we're confused about climate change. We're confused about basic terms.

Foertsch goes on to say that I made personal attacks against his sources. "He vilifies accredited meteorologist Anthony Watts as just a 'TV weatherman.'"

Look, far be it from me to vilify a TV weatherman. I'm sure he's a great guy, kind to children and dogs.

I was just pointing out that he's not a climate scientist. He's a TV weatherman who shouldn't be considered an expert on climate change. He doesn't even have a bachelor's degree in meteorology, much less an advanced degree in climate science. I have nothing against him personally.

The point is, how weak is your side when you have to rely on non-scientists like Watts as your experts?

Pretty weak, apparently. Foertsch even stoops to saying that "only zealots can ignore the defects in the Paris Climate Accord. Don Flood and my critics certainly qualify."

Wow. Disagreeing with Foertsch might qualify you as a "zealot."

Here are some companies that support the Paris climate agreement: Allianz, BP, DuPont, eBay, General Mills, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Monsanto, Tesla, Dow Chemical, Tiffany & Co., Unilever, etc.

There's more but you get the picture. They're, you know, the usual zealots out trying to destroy American capitalism.

And don't get me started about those leftwing nutjobs over at the Pentagon, starting right at the top.

According to, "At his confirmation hearing, Defense Secretary James Mattis called climate change a 'driver of instability' that 'requires a broader, whole-of-government response.'"

Apparently those "exaggerated scare tactics" that Foertsch referred to have even "Mad Dog" Mattis spooked.

And then there are all those tiresome scientific organizations that endorse the finding that climate change is real and man-made: NASA, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and so on.

Not to mention that the really embarrassing story about Exxon Mobil in The New York Times last month.

Current and former employees of Exxon Mobil have filed suit against the company. According to the Times, they argue that Exxon Mobil "deceived them by making false and misleading statements about the financial risks of climate change." In other words, they're so afraid of climate change - and Exxon Mobil's role in covering it up - that they fear it will harm the value of their company stock

But let's cut to the chase. As I wrote this, Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Puerto Rico. Mandatory evacuations were issued in parts of Florida.

Why is that?

It's not like meteorologists are always accurate. Goodness knows, we've heard plenty of warnings about supposedly powerful hurricanes that petered out.

They were wrong about Hurricane Harvey too. Look at the early reports. I saw one that predicted a maximum rainfall of 20 inches.
That's a lot of rain, but it's nowhere near 50 inches, which is what hit areas east of Houston.

Funny, though, I don't hear people screaming "junk science" every time a horrible hurricane fails to materialize as predicted.
That's because the weather reports are largely correct. They're not perfect. But they're pretty good.

That's why state and federal officials heed them. Ignoring even less than perfect predictions would pose an unacceptable risk to human life.

The same could be said of predictions about climate change. Are they perfect? Probably not. But they represent the scientific consensus and there's a lot of evidence to back them up. We'd be fools to ignore the dangers.

And ask yourself, what other group of professional scientists is regularly trashed the way climate scientists are? Is it possible there are economic incentives behind the attacks?

But don't believe me about climate change or the value of the Paris Climate Accord. And please don't believe Anthony Watts and Geary Foertsch.

Start someplace like the Jan. 4 story in Scientific American. It includes a 5-minute video explaining NOAA's approach to climate data, which is another story that Foertsch considers a scandal. The speaker is calm and reasoned and makes sense. He sure doesn't sound like a zealot.

You decide.

Don Flood is a former newspaper editor living in Lewes. He can be reached at

  • Accomplished writers appear in the Politics column every Tuesday on a rotating basis to explore the dynamic world of politics at the local, county, state, national and world levels.

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