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North Carolina Bans Scientific Prediction of Sea-Level Rise

When you first hear of the new law about global warming and sea-level rise that just went into effect in North Carolina, it's hard not to just laugh at the lunacy. But it is quite serious.

If you haven't heard already, this law mandates:

  •that only the Division of Coastal Management is even allowed to put out an estimate of the rate of sea-level rise.
  •that “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 sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise

One North Carolinian put it well, writing in Scientific American that the proposed bill 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.” (see http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/2012/05/30/nc-makes-sea-level-rise-illegal/ )

Moving Beyond Promoting “Doubt” About Climate Science to Outlawing Scientific Prediction and Mandating Anti-Science Ignorance

There has been for some time a strong clear scientific consensus from climate scientists about projected sea-level rise due to global warming – a consensus based on many-sided studies and results.

Here is one example - graphs derived from NASA satellite data showing how sea-level rise is now definitely not linear but increasing.

oil & satellite data on sea level rise

A 2011 report by the National Academy of Science for the U.S. navy on the national security implications of climate change concluded:
Based on recent peer-reviewed scientific literature, the Department of the Navy should expect roughly 0.4 to 2 meters global average sea-level rise by 2100, with a most likely value of about 0.8 meter. Projections of local sea-level rise could be much larger and should be taken into account for naval planning purposes (see http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12914 )

And while the efforts continue from right-wing forces to attack climate scientists (e.g. climate-gate, a recent billboard from the Heartland Institute comparing climate scientists to the una-bomber) and throw sand in the public's eyes promoting climate science “doubt”, most parts of the federal, state and local governments have already quietly accepted and been planning for these projected sea-level rises.

According to Rob Young, a geology professor at Western Carolina University and a member of the (N.C.) state science panel “Every other state in the country is planning on three-feet of sea level rise or more...Maine is preparing for a rise of up to 2 meters by 2100, Delaware 1.5 meters, Louisiana 1 meter and California 1.4 meters. Southeastern Florida projects up to a 2-foot rise by 2060.” (see http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/05/31/493086/north-carolina-bill-would-require-coastal-communities-to-ignore-global-warming-science/?mobile=nc

So yes, the jokes about King Canute forbidding the tide from coming in are funny. So is this bit from Colbert ( http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/414796/june-04-2012/the-word---sink-or-swim )
But global warming continues unabated, the sea-level continues to rise as do the attacks on science – the only method we humans have of understanding reality as it actually is and on that basis confronting and changing it in the interests of humanity.

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