The New York Times, citing a couple of recent global scientific studies, reports that America’s coastal communities are experiencing increasing tidal flooding and that the problem is largely related to greenhouse gases, or pollutants.
Here we go again, will say the “deniers,” the name given to, and proudly worn by, conservative politicians and coastal developers who simply want to deny the well-documented evidence that human beings’ disregard for conservation of the environment and fondness for fossil fuels are causing our climate to change. The deniers simply want to turn scientific evidence away at the door or take a Scarlett O’Hara approach and worry about it all tomorrow.
So to these reports they’d say, so what? That’s not good.
The scientists say that the ocean is rising at the fastest rate in 2,800 years. And there are more tidal floods than ever, floods that might seem isolated and minor, producing a little standing ocean water, but that in some coastal towns they kill off lawns and block streets that become covered with water. If this seems like a minor problem so far, scientists say, it will certainly get worse.
The number of flood days in some places is up: In Charleston, there were 34 flood days in an earlier decade and over 200 in a more recent decade. Robert E. Kopp of Rutgers University led the new research and is considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on sea levels.
The subject caused one of the more embarrassing moments in the North Carolina General Assembly in the last few years. In 2012, the state’s Coastal Resources Commission estimated the sea level would rise by more than 3 feet in the next century. And the U.S. Geological Survey had reported that the sea level along the East Coast between North Carolina and Massachusetts is going at three to four times the worldwide rate.
The solution of North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers and coastal developers? They got a law passed that banned the state from basing policy on scientific predictions about sea level. In other words, the sand here is nice and soft so let’s all stick our heads in it.
So the fact that earth scientists are again showing clear evidence that sea levels are rising and humans are the cause of it (some scientists even say the ocean levels would be dropping absent environmental abuse) isn’t in danger of waking up North Carolina lawmakers. The coastal regions of the state may be “built out” by some estimations, but if there’s money to be made developing even a few remaining inches of coastline, developers are willing to buy themselves a little scientific goodwill from lawmakers.