“Sea no evil”

Posted June 5th, 2012 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Interfaces of science and policy
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Apparently expecting the future to be like the past, last week, North Carolina GOP legislators circulated a bill  that begged for and just received the Colbert Report treatment. The bill not only dictates that estimates of sea-level-rise (SLR) are to be based only on historical trends, post 1900, and may not take into account scenarios of accelerated rates of SLR. It also forbids state public entities from making policies based on any estimates not produced by the only state agency authorized by the bill to make them – the NC Division of Coastal Management, which may only do so at the request of the Coastal Resources Commission, using said method. Eli the Rabett sniffed out the back story, with lots of links – with more added in the comments.

The bill, apparently based on the advice of one John Droz, was prepared in response to a report of a state science panel that recommended adoption of a 1 meter (39”) rise in sea level by 2100 for purposes of policy and planning. Droz, a retired real estate developer with a degree in physics, and not a single peer-reviewed publication on climate or any other topic, and science advisor to an NC-20 (an advocacy group representing coastal counties) “says he consulted with 30 sea-level experts, most of them not named”  in his critique of the science panel estimates. Which is not how science works.

As a consequence of this “fight against sea level rise predictions”, if the bill were to pass, state agencies would be unable to plan for and respond to actual sea level rise, even when using federal funds. According to the Charlotte Observer, a $5 million federally/FEMA funded study being carried out by the NC Division of Emergency Management, would only be able to report a projected range of SLR from 3.9 to 15.6 inches rather than 1 meter.

Which will lead to even higher costs as the state attempts to stabilize beaches already eroding as a result of coastal development patterns.

[Long promised and long overdue post revisiting Post-Normal Science in Post-Normal Times, coming soon….]