Remember when news broke that sea levels on the US east coast are rising 3-4 times higher than the global average? Well apparently North Carolina legislators don’t, because the Republican-majority crew just passed a bill placing a 4-year ban on acknowledging rising sea levels due to global warming, when discussing future coastal development.
The bill is now headed to the desk of Governor Bev Purdue, a Democrat, who so far has not said whether or not she intends to sign it into law.
Since 1980, a 600-mile stretch of the Atlantic coastline between Cape Hatteras, NC and Boston, MA has experienced a sea level rise nearly 4 times the global average. This information was released in the journal Nature last week, and since then there has been another study indicating that even if we severely curbed our greenhouse gas emissions and stabilized global temperatures within 2 to 3 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels, sea levels will continue to rise. Basically, there’s not much we can do about it, except adapt.
So is there any decent logic behind ignoring rising sea levels in North Carolina? Turns out it’s the result of a conflict between developers and a state-sponsored climate study. Researchers predict a 39-inch rise in sea level by 2100. Rather than take the projections into consideration, the North Carolina legislature has decided to wait until a new study is conducted in 2016. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Wait until conditions are worse and more coastal areas are developed to do anything about it.
If Governor Purdue signs the bill, developers will have a 4-year time frame to propose building or rebuilding on land that would otherwise be declared off-limits in a 39-inch rise scenario. Basically, they get to pretend these predictions don’t exist, even though the research has already been done. Sure sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?
Image CC licensed by Kel and Val: North Carolina coast