Delaware has been developing a Climate Action Plan , and is requesting public input. It is clear DNREC ( Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control) has already decided on a list of action items, most of which are already in place. Public workshops ask for responses through leading questions, and provide documentation of the climate change issues with flawed assumptions. We discuss these flaws below. Manmade emissions of carbon dioxide were insignificant before 1950, so where possible, we compare pre-1950 data to post-1950 data. We urge readers to submit their comments.
- Claim #1: “Heat waves are projected to become longer and more frequent by 2050”
- FACT: The EPA US Heat Wave Index, 1895-2015 (Figure 1- see below) shows no trend change over the period despite about a 50% increase in ambient levels of CO2 since 1950. Heat waves were about 8 times worse in the 1930’s compared to the most recent decades.
- Claim #2: “Annual temperatures have increased 2 °F since 1900, and are expected to increase 2.5 to 4.5 °F by 2050”
- FACT: The increase in average temperatures since 1900 is split with 1°before 1950, and 1° since 1950 suggesting little impact from CO2. The DNREC claim of future temperature increases is based on computer modeling. The average of over 100 computer model runs by various researchers predicted a temperature rise 2.7 times the rate of actual satellite and weather balloon data presented by JR Christy, University of Alabama for 1979 to 2015 (Figure 2- see below). Actual temperatures have been increasing 0.25 °F per decade since 1979, so we might expect only a 0.75 °F rise by 2050, about a fifth the rise DNREC is forecasting.
- Claim #3: “Sea levels at the Lewes tide gate have risen more than a foot over the last century, and are expected to rise an additional 9-23 inches by 2050”
- FACT: It is well reported half the Lewes tide gauge increase is likely due to land subsidence, not increasing sea levels. The 9-23 inch forecast by 2050 is from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that actually lists that as its most likely forecast out to 2100, not 2050. The UN uses a study, “Sea Level Rise from Late 19th to early 21st Century” 1870-2010 (Figure 3- see below), of hundreds of tide gauges from around the globe that shows a relatively steady rise of about 7 inches per century with essentially no change in the rate of sea level rise since 1925.
- Claim #4: “Climate change can disrupt farming through crop losses, and reduced yields”
- FACT: Dr. Craig Idso, Arizona State University, summarized 1,087 papers showing elevated CO2 levels enhanced plant productivity up to 2.5 times when ambient CO2 levels were raised up to 8 times the current atmospheric levels (Figure 4- see below). The enhanced levels also were more resistant to high temperatures, and required less water. Greenhouse growers around the globe often pump in CO2 at levels 2 to 4 times normal outdoor levels to boost production of vegetable crops. Crop production is likely to increase, not decrease.
- Claim #5: “Increased summer temperatures will increase energy demand for cooling”
- FACT: Much more energy is used for heating in the winter than for cooling in the summer. The DNREC comments ignore the reduced heating cost from higher winter temperatures.
- Claim #6: "Mitigation will include using more wind, solar, and electric vehicles, by banning certain refrigerants, and by partnering with other states"
- FACT: Delaware is requiring 20% of electric demand be met with renewable power this year, but only 2% will be generated in state (solar). The rest is Bloom Energy fuel cells powered with conventional natural gas, and out of state wind & solar projects. These projects are adding about 20% to the supply cost of power to Delmarva Power customers, about $150 a year for residential customers, and up to $1 million a year for some industrial customers. Current energy credit commitments total $1 billion in electric premiums through 2032, growing to $1.7 billion as more contracts are signed over the five years (Table 1-see below).
- FACT: Electric vehicles save almost no emissions as they emit a lot more in initial production and disposal, and recharge with electricity produced by coal, natural gas, and oil that also have transmission and charging losses. CO2 savings over the life of the vehicle may only be 4 tons at a cost of almost $5,300/ton (Table 2- see below). The electric vehicle has about a $21,000 purchase premium, so only the wealthy can buy electric vehicles.
- FACT: A CRI Cost Analysis on the refrigerant ban showed $3 million in benefits compared to $26 million in costs to reduce global temperature 4 one-hundred thousandths of a degree, essentially zero.
- FACT: Partnering with other states means joining carbon dioxide tax schemes for power plants and motor vehicles. The power plant program has been around for a decade, and has cost Delawareans $125 million so far with most of the money wasted, and could cost half a billion more dollars by 2030. In state generation of electricity dropped from 65% in 2008 to 47% in 2019, meaning we simply shifted emissions to other states adding extra emissions transmitting the power from farther away. DNREC proposes joining a multi-state 25 cent per gallon gasoline tax that could cost Delaware families over $200 a year, and is unlikely to reduce driving, or emissions.
In summary, DNREC has both their supporting facts, and mitigation plans wrong. Regardless of any manmade increase in temperature, we will still have flooding during big storms, and gradually increasing sea levels. It makes sense to have a Resilient Infrastructure Plan without clouding the issue with exaggerated climate change claims, or using mitigation plans that don’t work.