Republicans in North Carolina are openly attacking science on behalf of business interests in the coastal regions of the state. Despite the fact that scientists have calculated time and time again that sea levels are expected to rise a meter (3.28 feet) or more by the end of the century, Republicans want to make it a crime to take the science seriously and make the necessary preparations.
So science has predicted that over the next several decades, the water line of the sea-coast in North Carolina and elsewhere is expected to be over 3 feet higher than it is today. But Republicans representing the 20 coastal regions of North Carolina reject the science and want to make it against the law.
In their effort to silence the scientific community, Republicans are pushing HB 819, which to be blunt, forces coastal communities to ignore critical scientific predictions and observations that can be used to prevent flooding disasters in the future. According to the bill,
“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.”
In other words, Republicans are rejecting scientific predictions based upon research conducted using information from the 1800′s and earlier. They are essentially censoring scientific data.
The problem is that by censoring this data and forcing coastal areas to ignore the facts, Republicans are putting every single man, woman, and child who live on the North Carolina coast at risk. The general level of sea rise that nearly every climate scientist agrees needs to be prepared for is 3 feet. But many of those same experts also predict that sea level could rise five feet or more in the same time period.
Approximately 3.7 million Americans live on the coast. If North Carolina continues to ignore reality, they will be woefully unprepared when flooding destroys ports, coastal cities, wetlands, homes, businesses and basic infrastructure. Many lives could be lost and billions of dollars could be lost in property destruction.
So why are North Carolina Republicans doing this? The answer is business and money. An economic development group known as NC-20 is lobbying for the bill on behalf of business interests that wish to develop the coast. Science would get in the way of this. So NC-20′s mission is to browbeat the ￼N.C. Coastal Resources Commission into playing ball with anti-science groups. And that has worked, because the commission recently deleted critical sea level preparation benchmarks used to plan coastal development in the near and distant future.
So in the minds of these anti-science groups and Republicans, putting business and profit over the lives and homes of American citizens is absolutely peachy. Who cares if people are harmed as long as dollars are being made? But everybody should care about this issue. Ignoring it will not make it go away. As long as the planet continues to warm, arctic ice sheets will continue to melt unimpeded and that means increased flooding on every coastline around the world. North Carolina isn’t immune from this impending danger. Science predicts hurricanes all the time, and many of them have hit and will continue to hit North Carolina. Most people in the state prepare for hurricanes and even the state government prepares for them. If Republicans all of a sudden rejected hurricane science and predictions and forced coastal regions to ignore weather reports, the people would laugh them out of the state. So why ignore sea level predictions based on scientific studies? Flooding can be every bit as harmful as a hurricane and sea level elevation will actually increase the amount of destruction a hurricane could do because flooding would be more pronounced due to the higher sea level. Republicans are foolish to reject science and ignore the power of nature. And unfortunately, North Carolina will one day pay for that foolishness.