North Carolina Outlawing Sea Level Rise Predictions


What do you do when your worldview is threatened? If you’re a North Carolina lawmaker, you do the one thing you know best: make the offending evidence illegal.

That’s exactly what they are trying to do right now. Lawmakers weren’t happy with the findings of a state-appointed body on sea level change; the idea that the sea would rise a meter over the next century apparently made them mad. First, they tried listening to a lobbyist group that claimed the sea would only rise 8 inches instead. When that didn’t work, well, they took the legal route.

A bill currently going through the North Carolina legal system would make it illegal to measure the change in sea level. Specifically, the bill states:

“These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of seas-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise.”

Basically, North Carolina wants to stick its head in the sand. A sticky proposition, seeing as how the ocean’s rising.

This is a big, big problem in many ways. First, by limiting sea level data to after 1900, they are constraining the data set that would show that sea levels are rising on a slope, not linearly. and by enforcing linear modeling, well, the estimates will always be below the actual levels.

Second, the state is blatantly trying to stop the science. The bill explicitly states that only the government of North Carolina is allowed to develop sea level change models, and then only at the request of the congress and then only using linear models. That is utterly ridiculous, even without going into how it would be illegal to develop any policy that relates to sea level rise in any way!

There’s a great rant about the new bill over at Scientific American. Click through to the source link for it. It’s well worth the read.