How the NC Legislature Plans to Stop the Sea From Rising

Add this one to the "This is how they spend my tax dollars?!" file. Scott Huler exposes a ploy by legislators from 20 coastal North Carolina counties to outlaw effectively measuring and predicting the potential rise in sea level.
June 4, 2012, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In an effort to head off the supposed harm to economic development caused by the likely 1-meter rise is sea levels by 2100 reported by a state-appointed science panel, the legislators have circulated Replacement House Bill 819.

According to Huler, "The key language is in section 2, paragraph e, talking about rates of sea level rise: 'These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of seas-level rise may be extrapolated linearly. ' It goes on, but there's the core: North Carolina legislators have decided that the way to make exponential increases in sea level rise – caused by those inconvenient feedback loops we keep hearing about from scientists – go away is to make it against the law to extrapolate exponential; we can only extrapolate along a line predicted by previous sea level rises."

"Which, yes, is exactly like saying, do not predict tomorrow's weather based on radar images of a hurricane swirling offshore, moving west towards us with 60-mph winds and ten inches of rain. Predict the weather based on the last two weeks of fair weather with gentle breezes towards the east. Don't use radar and barometers; use the Farmer's Almanac and what grandpa remembers."

Writing in the Charlotte Observer, Bruce Henderson reports that, "NC-20 Chairman Tom Thompson, economic development director in Beaufort County, said his members – many of them county managers and other economic development officials – are convinced that climate changes and sea-level rises are part of natural cycles. Climate scientists who say otherwise, he believes, are wrong."

Thanks to Kelly Bennett

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Published on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Scientific American Plugged In Blog
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