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N.C. counties want to exclude climate predictions from planning

Published: Monday, June 4, 2012

State lawmakers want to exclude predictions of sea-level rise due to human-caused global warming from North Carolina's plans to protect its coasts, leaving climate scientists dumbfounded.

A state-appointed science panel recently found that the low, flat coastline is vulnerable to inundation in many places, according to estimates that global warming could causes seas to rise 1 meter (3.3 feet) by 2100.

But now, a coastal economic development group called NC-20 is attacking the report, insisting that planning consider only "natural" forcers of sea-level rise -- a method that yields a much more modest rise of only 15 inches over the same period.

It appears that the development group's claims have trumped those of the science panel. The Coastal Resources Commission agreed to delete references to planning benchmarks -- such as a 1-meter sea- level rise -- and new development standards for areas likely to be inundated.

A new bill circulated by Republican legislators goes further, mandating that any future calculations be based only on historic trends, and leaving out the accelerated rise that climate scientists widely expect this century if warming increases and glaciers melt.

East Carolina University geologist Stan Riggs said those conclusions run against mainstream science. "We're throwing this science out completely, and what's proposed is just crazy for a state that used to be a leader in marine science," he said. "You can't legislate the ocean, and you can't legislate storms" (Bruce
Henderson, Charlotte Observer/News & Observer, My 28). -- NM

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500


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