What A Nightmare!

First let’s describe a normal storm surge: It is mostly a product of lower pressure which is associated with the storm. Lower pressure over the center of the storm, when the center is at a spot in the ocean, is countered by high pressure elsewhere in the region over the ocean and the water outside the storm is pressed down, driving sea level in the storm’s center higher. This is called the storm surge.
When the center of the storm is over land, what is different? Well, for one thing, the down push of the higher pressure over water is not translated to the uplift at the center. What about large river intrusion into the scenario? For example, when the storm is centered near the mouth of the Mississippi. At some point on the river the water upstream meets the ocean. This point’s location moves with the storm surge as the storm moves onshore. A very low pressure storm has a higher storm surge, so the meeting of the flow of water from the river will be stopped by the sea at a higher elevation than is normal. Maybe quite a ways upriver from the actual outlet.
But the water continues to flow down the river. So it starts to back up at at a higher elevation along the river. Sort of like the effect of a high tide which is not caused by the movement of the moon. As the sea level rises, we should expect these artificial tides to move farther upstream, causing tidal flooding farther and farther from the coast. At some point, the tidal flood will not easily be pumped dry. Eventually the sea will be regarded as having advanced to the new marshy area, somewhere, say in upstate Arkansas. Maybe even downstate Kentucky (or is it Tennessee, or Mississippi or whatever–no matter)
Anyway, as ocean levels rise, I think what we should expect as the first signs of sea intrusion is tidal flooding at unexpectedly higher and higher points along major river outlets associated more to storms than just the stage of the moon. Eventually the melting of the ice at the poles is going to cause ocean rise that will inundate most of America’s midwest, not just Florida. So the advance is coming. The question is about when and how, not if. This is how I expect it to progress.
And we’re not taking centuries here. I think it will only be a matter of decades. Many experts disagree, though.
Where do I get off, trying to predict the timing of Ocean rise? Why not just defer to the experts? “The experts.” How did I get such a low opinion of them?: But low it is. I think it must be a combination of many things. One of the most dominating memories from my childhood is how strongly my parents felt about “pseudo-intellectuals.” They had no use for them.
And then I became one.
Going to college was a sort of rebellion against most of what my history represented. My family was rooted in Oklahoma. They disliked most of what Californians represented. My parents were undeniably very smart, but they were mostly uneducated. I think mother probably finished high school, but Daddy only got through eighth grade before going to work.That was mostly due to hard  times, but I’ve always assumed it was pretty common in his family at the time anyway. One of the many ways my father showed his intelligence was in his initiative when it came to learning skills more associated to work rather than school. He’s the only person I’ve ever known to be a telegrapher.
Anyway, I was clearly the most comfortable in the family in school, and it was my desire to go to college. My older sister would have liked to, but that was something my parents did not see as a good thing for girls to do, so there was no support at home for her to realize the ambition. If I hadn’t been able to support myself through college I don’t think they would have allowed it. As it was, I was the first, and only, sibling to do so. I was number three in a family of four.
I’m not sure how that has all set with me. As a small town representative in a very large college I soon learned about the downside of having grown up with the constant warnings about being a big fish in a small pond. I’ve always had difficulty judging my ideas as to whether they are good or bad, unusual or mundane, appropriate or not.
The class I was in as we progressed though high school was very small, consisting of fewer than forty people, and it changed, at most, by about ten kids through its history. Dunsmuir only had a population of 3000, and its elevation was near 5000 feet. It may have been the only place I’ve ever lived where the population was less than the elevation. But that I would even note that typified how differently I seemed to view the world from my peers. Nonetheless, there were two others in that small class that almost always managed to outpace me academically, Winifred Anderson and Michael Harris. I was better than both of them, though, in math, and that was what I chose to study at San Jose State College and later at the University of California at Davis, when I transferred there and changed my goals from high school teacher to college professor. I eventually passed my Ph.D. qualifying exams in mathematics, but never wrote a dissertation.
Even that accomplishment is mixed. The common reference to my highest degree by even knowledgeable people is an ABD, although this is not usually so much a degree as a status. In my case, though, it is a degree. For some four or five years in the seventies the University of California gave those of us who passed the quals a degree called the Ph.C. It never caught on, I think because, in almost all other fields of study, not finishing a Ph.D. after passing the quals is a sign of some sort of failing in the student, like a nervous breakdown, or something. That’s not so true in mathematics, but it sounds a bit self serving for me to make that argument, so I’ll just shut up now.
Rather than giving up on the thought that started this whole discussion completely, though, let me just say that, largely because I have spent most of my adult life as a Ph.C. in mathematics around very smart people, I have no illusions about their capabilities and certainly little deference to their intellects. Individuals, sometimes, but never because of their membership in the groip, Many of the smartest people I have ever met have never gone to college at all. Similarly, some of the most ill-informed and just plain stupid statements have emanated from the mouths of Dr. this or Dr. that.
At any rate, denial of the possible danger of climate change is as rampant in the realm of science as it is in the general public. And that’s just stupid, Doctor or not.
Global warming, the phenomenon which was first noticed in the 1950’s, is the most dangerous thing ever discovered by science, outside of an actual impact of the Earth by a very large extra terrestrial rock, which has a low probably of happening during our lifetime. We’ve known about global warming, though, since the fifties. Its already happening. Probability has nothing to do with it.
When it was first discovered, scientists warned of the dangers of a runaway greenhouse effect. But they saw no viable way of dealing with the threat. In short, they saw nothing but disaster in our future, unless we could find some way of avoiding the runaway.
Unfortunately, time has only shown how difficult it is to change the behavior of millions of people while saying nothing about what really might be going wrong, which turned out to be exactly what happened. Now the president is a denier, the EOS group will not entertain my opinion piece, entitled Bringing A Knife To The Gunfight, the sea is rising faster than expected, and extreme weather is more the norm than the extreme. And I have no faith in the experts any longer.
What a nightmare!

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