June 2012, Week 2


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Sun, 10 Jun 2012 20:56:07 -0400
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North Carolina Legislature Prepares to Ban Sea From Rising!
by Richard Schiffman
Common Dreams
June 5, 2012

Once upon a time, the great King Canute, strolling on a
beach with his courtiers, ordered the waves to halt. Yet
they kept on coming. It was a lesson intended for the
monarch's fawning sycophants. Canute was showing them
that there are limits to power. Even a king can't stop
the sea!The Outer Banks area of North Carolina where
storm damage shows how vulnerable coastal locations are.
(Credit: University of Pennsylvania)

This lesson seems to have been lost on the members of
North Carolina's legislature. They are getting ready to
vote on a bill that would prohibit government agencies
from preparing for the estimated three feet rise in
coastal sea levels which a state-appointed science panel
has predicted will occur before the end of the current

Not only that, but the forecast of the experts may soon
be stricken from the public record-- because it takes
into account the impact of Global Warming. And Global
Warming isn't happening, right?

Sounds like something you would read in the satirical
weekly, the Onion. But no, it's right there in the
Charlotte Observer, North Carolina's leading newspaper.
The headline reads: "Coastal N.C. counties fighting sea-
level rise prediction." These counties, the paper says,
have banded together to pressure the state's lawmakers
to excise the bad news about the ocean from the report
of the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission.

And they appear likely to win this fight against climate
science, according to the Observer. If the Republican
dominated legislature votes as expected, scientists will
be prohibited from factoring in the anticipated impact
of climate change and the accelerating melting of the
polar icecaps on Carolina's low-lying coastal
communities. By legislative decree, the state's own
researchers will be forced to base their predictions
solely on historical climate data, rather than the
acceleration of global warming that climatologists
expect to occur in the coming decades.

Why are these politicos forcing the hand of the
scientists? Because, let's face it, North Carolina, home
to Cape Hatteras and the roughly 2 thousand square miles
of low-lying coastlands, could stand to lose millions in
developer dollars if the news about rising sea levels
got out.

Never mind that the news already is out, and that
science can't be nullified by the state legislature of
North Carolina. Never mind that continuing to build up
this hurricane and storm-surge alley is inviting
disaster-- even at current sea-levels.

    What's proposed is just crazy for a state that used
    to be a leader in marine science," East Carolina
    University geologist Stan Riggs who studies the
    evolution of the coast told the Observer. "You can't
    legislate the ocean, and you can't legislate

But apparently you can in North Carolina, which is bent
on adopting the ostrich with its head in the sand mode
of governance. If you don't admit that you have a
problem, maybe you won't have to deal with it. The
Observer reports that several local governments on the
coast are not waiting for the legislature to act. They
have already passed their own resolutions against sea-
level rise policies.

Yet increasing beach erosion on Hatteras in recent years
is evidence that higher seas are already taking their
toll in the Tarheel state.

    "As a result of the acceleration of outlet glaciers
    over large regions, the ice sheets in Greenland and
    Antarctica are already contributing more and faster
    to sea level rise than anticipated," according to
    Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "If
    this trend continues, we are likely to witness sea
    level rise 1 meter or more by year 2100", he adds,
    citing a figure which-- while alarming enough-- is
    regarded as being rather conservative in some
    scientific circles.

Based on the growing consensus of scientific opinion,
other coastal states are now dealing more realistically
with climate change in their contingency planning. Maine
is preparing for a 2 meter sea level rise by 2100,
Delaware anticipates 1.5 meters, Louisiana 1 meter and
California 1.4 meters. Southeastern Florida is looking
for a 2-foot rise by 2060. North Carolina, by contrast,
expects to be exempt from the sea's advance, and plans
for only an 8 inches rise by the end of the present

Good luck North Carolina in your goofy tilting at the
climate change windmill. But when your emergency
preparedness plans come up disastrously short, your
insurance costs shoot through the roof, and your brand
new coastal developments get swept out to sea, don't
come crying to the rest of us to bail you out.


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