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Sandy's warning to North Carolina's head-in-the-sand lawmakers

November 01, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • Homes wrecked by super storm Sandy in Seaside Heights, N.J.
Homes wrecked by super storm Sandy in Seaside Heights, N.J. (Mario Tama / Getty Images…)

Here’s a little something for North Carolina lawmakers to chew on: $50 billion.

That’s the new estimate of how much damage super storm Sandy caused to the East Coast.

And as an L.A. Times editorial outlined Thursday, Sandy may well be a precursor to many such events, exacerbated by climate change.

THEN AND NOW: Devastation from super storm Sandy

But North Carolina doesn’t really have to worry on that front, because last summer its Legislature passed -- and its governor allowed to become law -- a bill that in essence denies climate change. 

The bill was prompted by a report from a state commission that predicted a 39-inch rise in sea levels over the next 100 years.  Which was actually the middle range, not a worst-case scenario; not that that mollified horrified developers.

The response, as The Times reported, was the legislation that outlaws "scenarios of accelerated rates of sea level rise unless such rates are from statistically significant, peer-reviewed data and are consistent with historic trends."

PHOTO ESSAY: Seven states, seven warning signs of global warming

Or, in other words, if something hasn’t happened, it won’t happen.

That is good news for folks who want to develop coastal areas of North Carolina -- such as Tom Thompson, president of a coastal development group, a key supporter of the law and a climate-change denier. According to ABC News,  “He said the science used to make the prediction was flawed, and added that the resources commission failed to consider the economic consequences of preparing the coast for a one-meter rise in sea level, under which up to 2,000 square miles would be threatened.”

He also called the prediction "a death sentence for coastal North Carolina.”

Which, given the devastation wrought by Sandy, may be the most sensible thing he said -- although he’s got it a wee bit backward.

Ignoring climate change won’t be a death sentence for coastal North Carolina.

But as Sandy demonstrated, it undoubtedly will be a death sentence for those lured there by ignorant developers and the lawmakers who aid and abet their greed.

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