Our views on sea-level rise are strictly scientific
Sea-level rise is a hot, contentious topic in North Carolina. Several recent articles here have portrayed the two sides as being: 1) conscientious scientists selected by the Coastal Resources Commission who wrote a balanced, thoughtful, science-based assessment of the North Carolina sea-level rise situation, vs 2) anti-science North Carolina developers who have their heads in the sand, and are opposed to rules that might affect them financially.
Regretfully, that is a complete distortion of the actual situation.
A much more accurate characterization of the two sides are: 1) a handful of CRC-selected scientists who are bent on promoting their personal political agenda, who wrote a sea-level rise report that violated numerous scientific standards, vs. 2) a collection of independent, world-class sea-level rise experts who have gone on record to express their displeasure with said scientists’ report.
NC-20 is an organization trying to give the 20 coastal counties one political voice on coastal issues. When it comes to technical matters like sea-level rise, NC-20’s primary agenda is that state policies should be based on genuine scientific assessments.
After a real scientific assessment has been done, coastal communities will then know the facts. Only then will they be able to do a proper evaluation of the economics of various options.
In this case, NC-20 was asked by one of their county members to review the CRC Panel’s 2010 N.C. Sea-Level Rise Assessment Report. In performing that review, NC-20 reached out to about 40 independent sea-level rise experts. NC-20 then compiled and edited the numerous criticisms into a 33-page, two-part critique. This was hand-delivered to the head of CRC, and was published online for the public to see. (Note: The CRC was asked to list the critique on its sea-level rise webpage, but refused to do so.)
It was NC-20’s expectation that following their published critique, that CRC would set up a venue to have a professional scientific dialogue about the sea-level rise report – which would be followed by a corrected version.
Unfortunately, nothing like that happened. Instead, the panel members circled the wagons and defended their report.
The panel’s next tactic was to issue an addendum. They characterized this document as answering the questions raised in the critique. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Shortly after this was issued, NC-20 published a supplement to the original critique, which contains the comments of several independent sea-level rise experts about the new CRC addendum. Contrary to the impression given by recent articles in The N&O, these two documents are entirely about the science (and have nothing to do with developers, or economics).
NC-20 is not disputing that there will be sea-level rise in North Carolina. The amount of sea-level rise here is unknown, so a genuine scientific assessment should be undertaken. So far nothing remotely approaching a scientific assessment has been done. Hopefully The N&O will support a real scientific assessment, and the CRC should publish the two NC-20 science-based responses.
John Droz Jr.
Physicist and Environmental Advocate
NC-20 Science Adviser
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response.