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Reality is what you make of it: North Carolina outlaws sea level rise

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Is the Tar Heel State getting jealous of Arizona’s reputation for bad craziness and low IQ buffoonery? WTF, North Carolina?

Scott Huler writes at Scientific American:

In a story first discussed by the NC Coastal Federation and given more play May 29 by the News & Observer of Raleigh and its sister paper the Charlotte Observer, a group of legislators from 20 coastal NC counties whose economies will be most affected by rising seas have legislated the words “Nuh-unh!” into the NC Constitution.

Okay, cheap shot alert. Actually all they did was say science is crazy. There is virtually universal agreement among scientists that the sea will probably rise a good meter or more before the end of the century, wreaking havoc in low-lying coastal counties. So the members of the developers’ lobbying group NC-20 say the sea will rise only 8 inches, because … because … well, SHUT UP, that’s because why.

That is, the meter or so of sea level rise predicted for the NC Coastal Resources Commission by a state-appointed board of scientists is extremely inconvenient for counties along the coast. So the NC-20 types have decided that we can escape sea level rise – in North Carolina, anyhow – by making it against the law. Or making MEASURING it against the law, anyhow.

Here’s a link to the circulated Replacement House Bill 819. 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.

Willful ignorance will not be a valued survival skill for the species as time goes on…

Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.01.2012
04:14 pm
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