A rather interesting lecture today at the legislature by John Droz, who has figured prominently in the state’s debate over sea-level rise standards.
Some takeaways: Apparently, many of our state’s scientists are actually anti-science and environmentalists are accepting their ideas in cult-like manner. Or something. (Update: here’s the link to a larger version of the slideshow, entitled Science Under Assault.)
There’s a breathtaking amount of irony in this presentation. Pretty sure this story will be making the rounds of various science blogs in short order.
You can watch some of the presentation and decide for yourselves. BTW, this will totally thrill those of you who enjoy watching someone read you a 150 or so slide Power Point presentation.
No one with any sense is arguing that it is not real, although this year during the sea level rise debate several North Carolina legislators enjoyed waving around copies of a copy of Newsweek from the 70s that featured a teasing headline about a new ice age (guess if it’s a headline it must be a scientific consensus, right?).
The fight, unfortunately, is whether humans have anything to do with it. It should not be a big fight, but it serves entrenched and wealthy interests and so it is. Science be damned for profits. That provides the financial fuel to support the opposition, which has made denial a cottage industry for activists and a dependable source of campaign cash for politicians willing to take the right positions.
Here in North Carolina, the climate change conflict has a twist. The question isn’t whether humans are causing change, but whether we should do anything about it.
During our legislature’s debate on the subject, we saw people in opposition to new policies who probably do understand that climate change is real and man-made. But pushed by deep-pocket coastal development interests they’re determined to fight it from becoming a basis for public policy as long as possible.
While that’s damaging enough, the way they’ve gone about it has made it worse. Rather than appeal to pragmatism and cautioning against a too-fast approach in the remedies, they’re cynically using deniers to push their point. They’ve chosen to fight the science and not the policy.
The battle in North Carolina is not just about the coast. As the chart above for Raleigh and for places in the mountains and Sandhills show, climate change will affect the whole state. We may not be able to understand the effects as well as we can understand the fact that the sea will rise, but a rapid rise in temps will impact our lives and all living things around us. There are many choices ahead in what to do, but the only one sure to hurt us is nothing.
In this election, people need to know where those who want to represent them stand on this issue and whether they believe in basing policy on science at all.
The North Carolina House just voted 114-0 not to concur with the Senate’s version of H819, Coastal Management Policies.
Citing the controversy over the sea-level rise language in the bill Rep. Pat McElrath, the sponsor of the original house version, asked that the bill be sent “into study” provided that conferees can be appointed.
With the legislature getting ready to pack up, that likely means the end of the sea-level rise legislation for this session.
Hot off the press. Here’s the new language in the proposed H819, which governs sea-level rise prediction in the state. The language is different in some areas from the version that kicked up a fuss in recent days. There’s an easing in restrictions for use of other-than-linear models by local governments and researchers. But the bill clearly prevents any regulations from being put in place based on models using accelerated sea-level rise.
The new language is not yet available on the NCGA site, but here’s what the bill says regarding sea-level rise and how it is to be used and measured.
(b) The General Assembly does not intend to mandate the development of sea-level rise policy or rates of sea-level rise. The Coastal Resources Commission, in conjunction with the Division of Coastal Management, shall have the authority to define sea-level rise and develop rates of sea-level rise for the State.
(c) The Coastal Resources Commission shall be the only State agency authorized to define rates of sea-level rise for regulatory purposes and, if developed, shall do so in conjunction with the Division of Coastal Management. The Commission and the Division of Coastal Management may collaborate with other State agencies, boards, commissions, other public entities, or institutions when defining sea-level rise or developing rates of sea-level rise. These rates shall be determined using statistically significant, peer-reviewed historical data generated using generally accepted scientific and statistical techniques. Historic rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise unless such rates are from statistically significant, peer-reviewed data and are consistent with historic trends. Rates of sea-level rise shall not be one rate for the entire coast but, rather, the Commission shall consider separately oceanfront and estuarine shorelines. For oceanfront shorelines, the Commission shall use no fewer than the four regions defined in the April 2011 report entitled “North Carolina Beach and Inlet Management Plan” published by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The oceanfront regions are: Region 1 (Brunswick County), Region 2 (New Hanover, Pender, and Onslow Counties and a portion of Carteret County), Region 3 (a portion of Carteret County and Hyde County), and Region 4 (Dare and Currituck Counties). For estuarine shorelines, the Commission shall consider no fewer than two separate regions defined as those north of Cape Lookout and those south of Cape Lookout. In regions that may lack statistically significant, peer-reviewed historical data, rates from adjacent regions may be considered and modified using generally accepted scientific and statistical techniques to account for relevant historical geologic and hydrologic processes.
(d) Any State agency, board, commission, or institution that develops a policy addressing sea-level rise that includes a definition or rate of sea-level rise for the coastal-area counties shall use only the definitions and rates of sea-level rise developed by the Division of Coastal Management as approved by the Coastal Resources Commission.
(e) The provisions in this act shall not prohibit other State agencies, boards, commissions, other public entities or institutions, including academic institutions within The University of North Carolina or any county, municipality, or other local public body from engaging in studies and dissemination of studies of sea-level research for non-regulatory purposes. Collaboration between academic institutions including those within The University of North Carolina, the Division of Coastal Management, the Coastal Resources Commission, and other State agencies, boards, commissions, or other public entities or counties, municipalities, or other local public bodies regarding generally accepted, peer-reviewed scientific and statistically significant sea-level research is encouraged.
(f) All policies, rules, regulations or any other product of the Commission or the Division of Coastal Management related to sea-level rise shall be subject to the requirements set forth in Chapter 150B of the General Statutes.”