Climate change denial as real estate ploy?

What is John Droz’s end-game?

I’m assuming he has one. I’m assuming here that Droz — “a real estate investor who owns properties along the North Carolina coast” — has some kind of long-term plan in mind.

Apart from being a wealthy coastal developer, Droz is also involved in the lucrative business of climate-change denialism. As the Institute for Southern Studies reports:

He is a senior fellow at the American Tradition Institute, a conservative think tank with ties to fossil fuel interests that promotes skepticism about global warming and renewable energy and has targeted a leading climate scientist with a controversial lawsuit.

Droz also served as the “scientific advisor” for the North Carolina anti-regulation lobby NC-20, “which is comprised of development interests in the state’s 20 coastal counties.” That’s the group behind the now-infamous bill “that would block North Carolina agencies from considering the latest science of sea-level rise in making planning decisions.”

That bill has been widely mocked because it is so utterly mockable. Confronted with scientific evidence of increased flooding due, in part, to rising sea levels and climate change, the bill addresses the problem by forbidding discussion of it.

Which brings us back to John Droz. He’s both the “scientific advisor” behind this head-in-the-sand approach and an investor with a great deal to lose once chronic flooding starts to wash away the value of his coastal property.

So one possibility is that John Droz is a staggeringly cynical and dishonest man currently pushing climate change denialism in order to preserve the short-term value of his properties in the hopes that he can sell them for more money before they eventually get swamped into worthlessness.

It’s also possible that Droz is acting both morally and rationally, but also arrogantly and ignorantly. In this scenario, Droz really believes the “contrarian” denialism promoted by his fossil-fuel industry supporters. And for whatever reason — defiant stubbornness, laziness, naiveté — he hasn’t bothered to do his homework or to check their assertions against the available facts. So due to his utter certainty — and maybe also due to his pride at being one of the very few people who “sees through” the scientific hoax — Droz invests everything he owns in coastal properties that those foolish, Al-Gore-loving scientists claim are in jeopardy.

The latter scenario is harder to believe because, as far as I know, John Droz has not tried suing the companies that insure all of his coastal properties. His insurance costs for this properties have gone up quite a bit over the past 15 years — in large part due to the increased risks of extreme weather and flooding due to climate change. If he really believes the gospel he’s preaching through the “American Tradition Institute,” then he ought to believe he has a solid case against those rate increases and he ought to be taking those insurance companies to court.

So it seems more likely that Droz is just desperately denying that the millions he has invested in vulnerable coastal properties are really at risk. He doesn’t have to fool everyone — just enough people to find buyers for those properties before the next extreme weather event or before the full cost of increased coastal flooding becomes undeniable.

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  • Ah, the classic “Reverse Lex Luthor.”

  • stly92

     Beat me too it…

    But isn’t it something, that the active destruction of the coast and the displacement of millions of people in a property scheme is no long quite so quaintly “comic book supervillain” as it was in the 70’s.

  • GDwarf

    Lex Luthor was exactly who I thought of as well. I love this place.

    Anyways, it’s a weird way to do short-term gain: Surely this overt denial has raised the issue far more…Even saying that it cannot be considered doesn’t do anything for the current value of his land. Why doesn’t he just dump it all while he can?

    Instead he tries to get the climate to obey legislation.

  • Matri

    That’s cause these people have the WILL OF GOD on their side! If they say God says there’s no global warming then, By Golly, there is no global warming! Reality had better get its ass in line or John Droz is gonna spank it into submission.

  • dr ngo

    WRT insurance, I believe you may be unfamiliar with North Carolina law in this regard, passed some years ago at the behest of coastal developers.  Insurance rates for coastal properties, far more at risk than most of the rest of the state, are by state law covered by the rest of us.  More specifically, there’s an insurance “fund” that is supposed to cover catastrophes, but as the fund has only a few tens of millions in it, and even a medium-sized direct hurricane hit might cost tens of BILLIONS, we’re all stuck with it.  In theory every insurance company in the state is liable, in the proportion that they write insurance in the state.  So now they’re trying NOT to write property insurance – some are closing up shop and moving out of state, some are trying to shed old customers by finding any excuse to raise rates, others are simply not writing new policies . . . it’s an anomaly wrapped in an enigma, and unlikely to be reversed soon.  John Droz is all the things you say and more, but he’s already got the insurance angle covered.  Nothing profound or spiritual or even logically contradictory about it; just old-fashioned political log-rolling/corruption.  

  • Cradicus

    Personally when it comes to scaring people off their land to get it cheap, I always think of Scooby-Doo. This feels like more of a “Reverse Old-Man Winters-who-runs-the-abandoned-amusement-park.)

  • Tonio

     I immediately thought of Lex as well. And then lamented the wasted opportunity of Superman Returns, which amounted to a remake of the first Reeve film…

    Ironic that a movement funded by fossil fuel companies seeking to protect their profits claims that opponents have the same motive, accusing scientists of scaring people just to get research grants. The charge doesn’t hold up under the barest amount of scrutiny, but it’s not supposed to – it’s simply anti-intellectual demagoguery.

  • p.a.

    maybe he can sell the land to conservative chuches…

  •  King Canute rides again.

  • Parhelion

     I’m betting he will.

    Another similarity between Lex Luthor and these sorts of fellows is how they both munch through minions.  And, just like happens in the cartoons, their minions somehow never really grasp the perils of their chosen role.

    Chilling, really.

  • GDwarf

    King Canute rides again.

    Heh, he was trying to prove a point, though.

  •  I thought Land was supposed to be a bad guy?

  • christopher_young

    If they say God says there’s no global warming then, By Golly, there is no global warming!

    So they get to tell God what to do, do they? I don’t think much of their god, then, if ze lets itself get pushed around by a bunch of property speculators. Say what you will about the God of Abraham, he doesn’t stand for being pushed around.

  • Someone call the Tea Party! This is bare-faced socialism. I’m sure they’ll be champing at the bit to oppose this plan.

  • Loki100

    It always amazes me that conservatives think there’s huge money to be made in saying climate change is happening, environmentalism in general, or pro-labor activism.

    It’s the most annoying form of cognitive dissonance. No one makes money off a forest not being developed.

  • Icwchap


    Anyone that is posting comments here, one way or the other
    on the topic of sea level rise should attend one of the Coastal Resources
    Science Panel Committee meetings. I believe that you will see the absolute bias
    based on largely pre programmed logic that is driving public opinion in matters
    that relate to the formulation of public policy decisions.

    The Committee is packed with  environmentalist that are looking at a 100
    year forecast of sea level rise on the coast. First of all, the discussion automatically
    assumes that there is sea level rise, which may or may not be the case, but
    assuming that it exists, how bad is it going to get?

    Well according to Spencer Rogers with the NC  Sea Grant Program, being at 30+
    year expert on the coastal sciences, there will be some sea level rise, but hey
    “chicken little”
    the sky is not falling. According to Spencer no one knows for sure what will
    happen in the next 10, 25, 50 years, so how do you expect to possible know what
    is going to happen in the next 100+ years. He says that the increase per year
    at the current rate is about the thickness of two nickels pressed together. He
    talks about the historic rate of rise and the “Scientific “expected rate
    of 1 meter. He believes that the truth lies somewhere in between. Even if the
    worst case scenario of one meter were the case in 100 years, the typical
    mortgage is for 30 years and the typical life expectancy of a single family
    home is around 75 years, so where is the “beef”.

    On Topsail Island there is billions of dollars of development, and a very large
    portion is already built out. These developments generate billions of dollars
    in taxes to the State, Federal, and local governments, so what are we to do
    with a “cash cow “to government,
    bulldoze it or post “Do not enter signs” ? I don’t think that would be
    fiscally prudent, and would be profoundly stupid!

    The point I am making is that “what is here is here”, we can’t
    retreat from the coast, and forecast projections a century even assuming sea
    level rise is a fact is ludicrous at best and “bad science” at its

    I can only think of while sitting in my office at RTP back in the mid 70’s
    reading a “News and Observer” series of articles on how the earth’s
    atmosphere was cooling and in 50 years we would all be freezing to death, with
    food having to be grown in monstrous green houses, it didn’t happen! In the
    80’s scientists were “concerned” the earth was destined to destruction
    by roaming asteroids, it did happen. In the 90’s the US and the earth would
    suffer computer failure bringing civilization to its knees. Literally billions
    of dollars were spent to avert certain disaster. You must remember Y2K! That
    was a real embarrassment. So here we are with “chicken little” again.

    Public policy not only needs to be forged in a vacuum using worst case
    scientific prognostications, but in an arena where other factors are weighed
    with science, economics, and common sense. After all, after looking at
    “Chicken Little’s” track record, it isn’t very good.

  • Pythia

    Funny you should choose Topsail Island as an example.  Million dollar homes at the north end have waves breaking underneath and are falling into the ocean.  Elsewhere on Topsail:

  • walden

    The “cooling” scenarios were brief and speculative – never achieving much scientific interest or traction (except for models of ‘nuclear winter’ which posited a different cause and mechanism). The asteroid issue never influenced any policy whatsoever.  It may be a concern, but there’s nothing to be done about it, nor any human responsibility. Y2K may or may not have been oversold, but basically companies and government took the actions that seemed prudent to them and expended the $ to do so, and so the lack of a meltdown is actually a testament to prudence (not a chicken little scenario).
    As for sea level rise, we have observed it.  We have good data for it, we can read the trend lines, and the models of climate change suggest substantial sea level rise is to be expected.  “Worst case” is not what anyone has proposed…but even the middle cases have major problems for coastal communities.  Denialism (or chuckling over your 30 years of feeling superior to the rubes) is not a response.  You say “we can’t retreat” from the coast, but the odds are very good that the retreat will be done for us (by major hurricanes) and the question will be what responses will be following these events.  We should figure this out ahead of time.   Likewise, putting major infrastructure investments in place (that will have a life of 50-100 years — like new sewer systems, major highways, bridges) should take into account the likely scenarios over the life of the investment.
    So “pre-programmed logic” is bad?   Not so. 

  • Klem

    He doesn’t dump it all because it makes him money. I know people who are actively reducing the offers they are making to homeowners because they claim it will be flooded, knowing full well that it will take another 1000 years.   They are buying properties for almost nothing. And homeowners are falling for it. lol!

  • Klem

    “If they say God says there’s no global warming then, By Golly, there is no global warming.”

    And what did your god tell you?

  • That’s the second cultural reference I was going to make that somebody beat me to…

  • Klem

    I know a working scientist who is a vocal climate denier, yet he openly admits that in order to secure his annual research funding he always links his research proposals to anthropogenic climate change. He says it goes against his personal convictions, but he’s a pragmatist, he does what is necessary to continue his research, keep his staff employed and put food on the table. He does it because it works. He simply uses the flavour of the month to keep the ship afloat and CAGW is the flavour of the month. When the flavor changes, so will his research. I don’t blame him one bit, if I were in his shoes I’d do the same thing. He is not trying to scare people, it is is not a conspiracy, its just life.

    But it makes me wonder, just how many scientists out there are doing the exact same thing? I’ll bet its more than you might think.

  • You must remember Y2K! That was a real embarrassment.

    Er, yes. I worked on software back then; the reason it looks like a “real embarrassment” to you is that a lot of people worked really hard to fix the problems before you saw them.

  • Klem

    That’s not entirely accurate. Right now people from the UNs REDD program are visiting aboriginal people in the rainforests of the world, getting them to sign over the rights to their forests. Using money generated through the EUs Cap&Trade mechanism, these people will be paid NOT to develop their forest lands, in exchange for allowing EU corporations to pollute.  Good deal huh?

    Paying people to sit around and do nothing is straight out of the Soviet playbook. Your UN, hard at work.

  • Klem

    Many people don’t realize that the oceans have been rising about 6mm per year on average for the last 20,000 years. During that 20k year time there were periods of fast rise and slow rise, some periods of ocean fall as well, but on average about 6mm per year rise.  This is the planet we live on, get over it.

  • Klem

    Exactly, it makes sense that the adaptations to sea level rise are things like better highways, bridges, sewer lines, warves, dikes and seawalls for example. Real concrete steps to prrepare for higher sealevels. Not fruity and ineffective wind turbines, carbon exchanges and solar panels.

  • Loki100

    Yes, yes, yes. I’m sure you actually know a “working scientist” who studies climate change, and falsifies his conclusions to keep that big university money rolling in, rather than simply working for the oil companies who actually do pay extremely well for that exact kind of “research.”

    But I do love that it, “it goes against his personal convictions.” Generally speaking scientists talk about evidence, not “personal convictions.” “Personal convictions” would fall into “bias.”

    I also love that you “it is is not a conspiracy” even though what you outlined is explicitly a conspiracy on several different levels.

    But mostly I just love how everyone on the internet has an anonymous friend who is an expert in the exact field being discussed and somehow always agrees with the troll person making the case. I’m somewhat surprised you didn’t actually claim that you were a climate scientist struggling to speak truth against the vast moneyed interests of the environmentalists. With their billions upon trillions of dollars of non-profit cash!

  • GDwarf

    Er, yes. I worked on software back then; the reason it looks like a
    “real embarrassment” to you is that a lot of people worked really hard
    to fix the problems before you saw them.

    Indeed. Y2K is one of those really frustrating things where if nothing had been done there would’ve been chaos, but since people worked overtime for years the problem was solved so everyone concluded that there must not have been a problem in the first place. It’s gonna make it hella hard to get anyone to care about the Unix epoch rolling over…

    In other news: It certainly didn’t take the climate change deniers long to show up, did it? I didn’t think anyone still disputed that the Earth was getting warmer or that one of the things that would cause would be melting glaciers and poles, leading to rising sea levels.

    I guess the south pole has magic ice that doesn’t melt? Or something?

  • The_L1985

    The Republican Party is accurate. Reality is frequently inaccurate. (with apologies to Douglas Adams)

  • The_L1985

    “Fruity and ineffective?” So the fact that we have to literally tear down entire mountain ranges in order to get at the coal that powers 90% of America’s power plants is irrelevant?

  • The_L1985

    My father decided to completely ignore the ice that’s on land, saying that melting Arctic ice can’t affect sea level because it’s already displacing the ocean. Apparently Greenland and Antarctica don’t have any ice.

  • Matri

    On an off-topic tangent, you folks need to see this. It’s almost like conclusive proof the right-wing really are idiots.

    Rush’s latest conspiracy theory

  • Dan Audy

    Wow.  That really solidifies exactly how much respect Rush has for his own listeners.  He assumes that none of them are smart enough to see how flawed a ‘theory’ that is.  That would mean that Democratic operatives chose a name that uses a standard term for bad/evil that sounds similar to Romney’s business before he created said business then and then wrote a script, cast, and filmed a movie years before Romney was chosen as the Republican nominee and arranged to release the movie in the summer before the election in order to tinge his name with the association rather than because that is blockbuster season.

    Either that or following a slightly more logical theory, the democratic operatives did all those things with their time machine while travelling back so that Hitlerbama could run the Third Reich.

  • According to Spencer no one knows for sure what will happen in the next 10, 25, 50 years,

    So I guess the fact that humans plan for future events of less than 100% probability is totally meaningless.

    Corporations, governments and even people routinely do forecasts of their monthly, yearly, and even lifetime income and expenses.

    What the hell do you think retirement planning is?

    Planning for something you’re not entirely sure about over the next 10, 25, 50 years.

  • Joshua

    I know a working scientist who is a vocal climate denier

    Oh yeah, this’ll be good.

    in order to secure his annual research funding he always links his research proposals to anthropogenic climate change

    So, not actually vocal then.

    He says it goes against his personal convictions, but he’s a pragmatist

    That’s not exactly what “personal convictions” means. I guess he doesn’t have any.

    he does what is necessary to continue his research, keep his staff employed and put food on the table.

    This really takes the cake: A working scientist, with staff and food on the table? Staff. Oh yeah.

    Can we meet this good friend of yours? Does he look anything like this?

  • That’s a pretty common problem. “Hey, there’s not a lot of legal segregation around anymore* (at least not the kind that a white guy would notice), so we don’t need the Civil Rights Acts anymore!” “I haven’t seen a lot of fires in my neighborhood recently, so we don’t need fire codes any more!” “Polio doesn’t seem to be that scary any more, so we can blow off  all vaccination programs!”

    It’s the notion that, if you’re sick, you take medicine to feel better, and once you feel better, this retroactively proves that you didn’t need the medicine in the first place. It’s the kind of argument that’s so obviously self-serving and asinine that it’s not worth even engaging. 

  •  It beats funding those fruity wind turbines.

  • PJ Evans

    Apparently Greenland and Antarctica don’t have any ice.
    Like the piece the size of Manhattan island that just broke off a glacier in Greenland, I guess.

  • Joshua

    Sorry, what? What beats funding wind turbines?

  • ohiolibrarian

     And the character Bane first appeared in the Batman comics in 1993, so …

  • Joshua

    So clearly when Mitt was forging his career in business back in the day, he felt it was best to go with a Batman supervillain theme.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Either that or following a slightly more logical theory,
    the democratic operatives did all those things with their time machine
    while travelling back so that Hitlerbama could run the Third

    You mean we have a time machine and we used it
    to put in place a politician of our choice and that politician
    isn’t somebody other countries consider a radical
    leftist? I AM DISAPPOINT.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    My eyes glazed over most of the brave speaker of truth’s sentences, so I didn’t notice the “fruity and ineffective wind turbines” bit. Thanks for highlighting it.

    My questions to Klem:

    1. Given that the electricity running everything in my house, including this laptop, is generated by wind turbines, what does it take for you to call something effective?

    2. Did you really just do a version of “wind power is so gay”? Are you 14?

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Check his profile. 

  • Ima Pseudonym

     That was directed at Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart, sorry. 

  • Ima Pseudonym

    Also, check Google.  Use terms “klem climate change troll.”

  • Matri

    Also, check Google.

    Wow, this guy could possibly be even bigger than watzisname.

  • Matri

    Bah. HTML fail.


  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Ah, I see. I hope he’s at least being paid off by some oil company for the trolling, cos to do it for free is pretty sad.

  • Klem

    Dear Lok100

    “Yes, yes, yes. I’m sure you actually know a “working scientist” who studies climate change, and falsifies his conclusions to keep that big university money rolling in..’

    Wow, you made those bizarre conclusions from my comment above? Amazing. No, he does not study climate science and he does not falsify his conclusions. He studies glacial sediments, so its easy to make the link to climate change and there is no reason to falsify anything. But he discovered that making the link alone will increase his funding every year.  Understand better now?

    “Generally speaking scientists talk about evidence, not “personal convictions””

    You don’t know many people who work in science obviously, they are just like the rest of us. They do what they need to do to keep a roof over thier head.

    The remainder of your comments are so emotional its clear that my remarks have offender you in some way.  Climate alarmism is like a religion to you, and I’ve insulted your religion. Time to grow up.