North Carolina to Enshrine Climate Denial Into Law

John Curnsow via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

And here I was, thinking that North Carolina was supposed to leave all the truly crazy stuff to its southern counterpart. But no—perhaps in a bid to surpass its recent outright ban of same sex marriage, the state legislature has gone ahead and passed an amendment that will force state planners to ignore science itself. I know that sentences like that can sometimes be written for hyperbolic, look-how-insane-Republicans-are sorts of purposes. But not this time.

After it passes the House of Reps again and is signed by the governor (neither are expected to offer any resistance), the law will officially force state planners to ignore forecasts of sea level rise projected by climate scientists, and instead rely only on historically observed levels.

Here's the Associated Press:

The North Carolina Senate has approved a bill that ignores scientists' warnings of rising sea levels. Senators approved the bill on a 34-to-11 vote Tuesday ...

HB 819 says that only the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission can calculate how fast the sea is rising for state governmental purposes and those calculations must be based on historic trends, which are much lower than the science panel's projections. A state-appointed science panel warned sea levels could rise by more than three feet by 2100 and threaten more than 2,000 square miles of coastal land.

The coastal development group NC-20 disputes the scientists' findings and says the state should prepare for an eight-inch increase instead. The developers say stricter regulations would harm the coastal economy.

Stephen Colbert hilariously lampooned the logic employed by lawmakers in this segment last week, before the measure actually passed, with, it should be noted, depressingly little opposition:

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"If science gives you a result you don't like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved."

That's quite literally what has happened here. It's the stuff of black comedy; it's some serious Dr. Strangelove-esque satire. Here we have scientists warming of a serious, potentially existential threat to North Carolina's coastal communities—and politicians respond by rendering the observation of the laws of physics illegal. I hope the coastal development committee likes developing dikes and piling up sandbags.

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Causes | Global Warming Effects | Global Warming Science

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