Pettyjohn’s commentary misses the point

September 1, 2023

Sen. Brian Pettyjohn's Aug. 29 commentary titled "Climate lawsuit could hamper state's economy," gave priority to "strike a balance" between (a) the climate change fight and (b) not hurting the business establishment status quo. His commentary, however, discussed neither climate change negative effects on Delaware, nor the positive effects of a possible climate lawsuit win. 

The negative effect on Delaware from climate change-based anti-business litigation needs to be compared to the negative effect coming directly from climate change itself. The biggest and easiest-to-understand threat to Delaware is from sea-level rise.

That rise has been estimated by climatologists to be from a minimum of 2 to 3 feet to up to around 8 to 12 feet or more by 2100. At worst, sea-level rise will totally wipe out our resort beaches and about 10% to 15% of Delaware's coastal land (based on my look at Delaware elevation contours available on the internet). A 30-foot rise will wipe out half of Delaware. Think about that negative effect on Delaware.

In 2019, the Forbes website carried an article titled "Shocking new maps show how sea-level rise will destroy coastal cities by 2050." That is a lot sooner than 2100. The article can be found by internet search on the title. Moreover, I have read several recent journal articles with data that show that the rate of sea-level rise is increasing. Sea-level rise is not a joke or a hoax or far in the future. Do an internet search on the keyword string "how much damage from sea-level rise," and just have a look at the links on the first page of search results. Sen. Pettyjohn's fears are minuscule by comparison.

Gazette readers might want to use the "Coastal risk screening tool" (on the website, and easy to use), or the "Sea-level rise viewer" (on the website) to see how and when their house or property will be flooded by sea-level rise, high tides or storm surge. Bear in mind that Greenland glacier ice and Antarctica ice will be melting even faster as planetary temperatures continue to rise. And, plant photosynthesis stops above 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit – record temperatures were widely seen in July this year – so crop and non-crop plant growth will be threatened. Will there be enough food in grocery stores? Lastly, we will get that sea-level rise anyway because global warming will be continuing for many decades. Realistic goal: a hotter Earth that is still mostly habitable. 

Arthur E. Sowers


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