News from July 3, 2012:
RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) – Lawmakers in North Carolina, which has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline and vast areas of low-lying land, voted on Tuesday to ignore studies predicting a rapid rise in sea level due to climate change and postpone planning for the consequences. …
Backed by real estate developers, the Republican-led General Assembly passed a law requiring that projected rates of sea level rise be calculated on historical trends and not include accelerated rates of increase.
North Carolina is among the state’s most vulnerable to sea level rise with its long coastline and thousands of square miles of low-lying land. A 2012 study by the U.S. Geological Survey says sea levels along the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts are rising three to four times faster than the global average. Global sea level rise has been projected to rise two to three feet by the end of the 21st century, but in hot spots, the increase may be greater.
A panel of scientists that advises North Carolina’s Coastal Resources Commission, a state policy panel, said coastal communities should plan for about 39 inches of sea level rise by 2100 based on seven scientific studies.
That drew a backlash from a coastal economic development group called NC-20 that called it fake science. The group said making development take into account 39 inches of sea level rise could undermine the coastal economy, raise insurance costs and turn thousands of square miles of coastal property into flood plains that could not be developed.
During floor debate Tuesday, Rep. Pat McElraft, a Republican who sponsored the bill, questioned the scientific accuracy of climate change and said that sea level rise along North Carolina’s coast in the last century had averaged 8 inches.