It's not enough to bash in heads, you have to bash in minds
            

Making sea level rise illegal

Pure insanity doesn’t even come close to what some legislators are trying to do in North Carolina:

Some lawmakers will go to great lengths to deny the reality of climate change. But this week, North Carolina lawmakers reached new heights of denial, proposing a new law that would require estimates of sea level rise to be based only on historical data—not on all the evidence that demonstrates that the seas are rising much faster now thanks to global warming.

As Scott Huler, a North Carolina resident puts it:

North Carolina legislators have decided that the way to make exponential increases in sea level rise – caused by those inconvenient feedback loops we keep hearing about from scientists – go away is to make it against the law to extrapolate exponential; we can only extrapolate along a line predicted by previous sea level rises.

Which, yes, is exactly like saying, do not predict tomorrow’s weather based on radar images of a hurricane swirling offshore, moving west towards us with 60-mph winds and ten inches of rain. Predict the weather based on the last two weeks of fair weather with gentle breezes towards the east. Don’t use radar and barometers; use the Farmer’s Almanac and what grandpa remembers…

No matter in North Carolina. We’ve got resorts to build and we don’t care what the rest of the ocean does – our sea isn’t going to rise by more than 15.6 inches. Because otherwise it’s against the law.

And if you happen to live in the US (or know of a good proxy server) then this video from Stephen Colbert is a must watch:

If your science gives you a result that you don’t like, pass a law that says that the result is illegal. Problem solved!

UPDATE: Looks like some amount of sanity has reached the North Carolina Senate:

Now, the Coastal Resources Commission can consider accelerated rates of sea level rise, provided “such rates are from statistically significant, peer-reviewed data and are consistent with historic trends.”

The last bit about historical tends could still be problematic, however. It all depends what the senate means by ‘historical’. If they include the paleoclimate record, then there is no problem; if they only include recent history then the problem remains.

In the end I am still left wondering why such a law is even needed.

11 Responses to Making sea level rise illegal

  1. National and International media have been criticizing the NC General Assembly, by joking that a Draft NC Law intends to stop Sea Level from rising or accelerating .

    Real funny.

    Obviously, no one disputes that Sea Level has been rising since the last Ice Age – very slowly; and certainly, if Sea Level Rise (SLR) is or will accelerate rapidly, we need to know about it, and plan for it; but , in short, it seems that the General Assembly want’s actual proof , instead of using an Ouija Board to predict acceleration of Sea Level Rise.

    The issue arose because the CRC, Science Panel (SP) and scientists said,

    – SL has been rising 18 inches / 100y ,

    – 1 foot of SLR would inundate up to 2 miles of tidelands,

    and then, using UN IPCC guesstimates, jumped to proposing Planning Policy for 39” SLR by 2100.

    However, there are Real world concerns with the SP’s science:

    – A visual comparison of post 1850’s US Government Coast Survey surveys of NC tidelands, with recent surveys, don’t show 4 miles ( 150 y @ 18 inches / 100y ), or even 1 mile of inundation.

    – Validity of tide gage data presented by the SP was found to be suspect.

    – the SP’s Literature Search, was a one sided selection of Pro AGW and Pro SLR reports, with no other viewpoints presented.

    When asked about this, the SP , scientists, and an educational institution have refused to answer questions, declined to do the studies, and refused to participate in an Open Public Forum.

    Admittedly, I have received a maelstrom of studies on erosion, but none definitively answer the question. Why not ? IF a comparative study of inundation has been done, it should be easy enough to post the pages for everyone to see.

    As no one is omniscient, and being responsible to protect the property rights of all the citizens of NC, it looks like the General Assembly is just saying, we need comprehensive verifiable science, before making important public policy decisions.

    Bill Price Pine Knoll Shores

    • it looks like the General Assembly is just saying, we need comprehensive verifiable science, before making important public policy decisions.

      The original wording, of course, goes far beyond your generous interpretation. It actively limits the sources of data scientists can use to build future projections of sea level rise. Historical data are important of course, but they are limited.

      The revised wording is a large improvement. But the question remains, why are politicians dictating to scientists what data are appropriate?

    • I should also address the notion “that the General Assembly want’s actual proof”.

      Science doesn’t provide proof; this is a fundamental property of the scientific method. If the general assembly of NC wants proof they need to wait for the sea level to rise. Only then will they have proof.

      Obviously then waiting until there is proof is not very useful in this situation. In fact it is not very useful in most situations.

    • > If the general assembly of NC wants proof they need to wait for
      > the sea level to rise. Only then will they have proof.

      Not even then. Proof is for mathematics.

      > – SL has been rising 18 inches / 100y

      Eh, 18 cm is more like it

  2. The CRC’s  Science Panel & scientists:
    – Used the Least Reliable Tide Gauge Data in NC.
    – Used Obsolete Reports
    – Used only One-sided Sea Level Rise  reports
    – Used only  One-sided Global Warming reports,
    – Admitted they did no science, only a “Literature Search”.
    – No 4 miles inundation of NC Tidelands over 150 years is visible .
    –  Ignored  US Coast Survey , and US Fish Services Tide Gauge Data 1850 1950.
    – Said, ‘What’s the Big Deal, Let’s wait 5 Years and see what happens.’ (We have video of this.)
    – Their reports confuse Erosion due to dredging, winds, waves and currents with inundation. 
    They have not answered  questions about the above concerns submitted to the CRC Feb 2011.
    Why don’t you contact the Science Panel and ask them to participate in an Open Public Forum to answer the above and other questions about their science.
    So far they have declined our overtures. Why?
    So how can it be the General Assembly’s fault that they ask for verifiable science when the Scientists won’t answer questions?

    Bill Price    Pine Knoll Shore

    • I am sure there is another side of the story to most if not all of these bullet, but you are changing the subject. The assembly is not asking for “verifiable” science (whatever, exactly, that means); rather it appears that the assembly is making the key relevant evidence inadmissible by fiat, guaranteeing an ill-considered result.

      If people are reminded of King Canute, they should also remember that Canute did not actually expect the tides to obey his command.

  3. Mr. Vemeer,
    The 18 inches/100y was the science panels projection. We questioned that number as the tide gauge data was limited.
    The crc science panel reconfirmed the 18 inch number which leads to questioning of the resultant computation of 4 miles of inundation of tidelands (The 2 Miles Inundation / 1 foot of SLR was asserted by Dr.Pilky.)
    18 inches X 160 years equals approximately 24 inches X 2 miles inundation / foot. equals 4 miles of inundation.) Comparison of 1850 ‘s Government surrveys with recent surveys does not seem to show 4 miles of inundation of coastal tidelands.
    We asked the science panel if there was comparison survey. No answer. We asked an educational institution if there was a survey study and if not , would the do such a comparitive survey. They declined. We have asked scientists to partcipate in an open public hearing to present the information. They have not answered.
    It is difficult to make important public policy, when the scientists won’t answer questions.
    Bill Price Pine Knoll Shores

    • “Comparison of 1850 ‘s Government surrveys with recent surveys does not seem to show 4 miles of inundation of coastal tidelands.”

      Well, yes, this is the point, isn’t it? The future is likely subject to a huge addition in greenhouse forcing, whereas the past was in a relatively stable configuration.

      I am sure this is bad news for you, but nobody is out to harm you in the scientific community. You should be looking to the more intractable fossil fuel interests instead if you’d like to find out who is damaging the prospects for your property.

      “We have asked scientists to partcipate in an open public hearing to present the information. They have not answered. It is difficult to make important public policy, when the scientists won’t answer questions.”

      I suspect there is more to this than meets the eye. Scientists have awakened to the possibility of an ambush by pseudo-scientific opposition. That said, climate science has a long way to go in learning to communicate with the public, even without people deliberately trying to make it even more difficult. Could you refer us to some press stories about this aspect of the story?

  4. Mr. Tobias,
    To recommend planning for 39″ SLR / 2100, the SP asserted an un-accelerated historical Baseline of 18″ SLR/ 100y , then applied an acceleration factor based on UN IPCC forecasts. ( NOAA said there IS NO Signal of acceleration of SLR for the NC coast.) To promote fear of future SLR, Dr. Pilky said 1 foot of SLR will cause 2 mile inundation of tidelands.
    I just asked,, if historical baseline would = 2 Foot SLR since 1850′, & Dr. Pilky says we should see 4 miles inundation of tidelands in a Comparative Survey.,,, So , show me. Neither the SP , nor anyone else will answer the question.
    Also, based on Watt’s report on NOAA temp gages and Menne’s nonsensical response ( representing NOAA), I asked the SP if the NOAA temp record could be verified.
    Essentially , I have a hard time time having confidence in someone’s Foresight, when their Hindsight is suspicious.
    I guess my question is, as an American Citizen, do I have a right to ask a question and to get an answer, or should we all just shut up and do what the experts direct, without question?
    I don’t think so.
    Bill Price – Pine Knoll Shores

  5. Mr. Vermeer,

    18″ is what the CRC Science Panel said. ( not 18 cm.)
    That’s why we asked questions.
    No answers, but they sure do get Star billing Editorials and Articles in NC Media, while anyone that would dare question the SP is labeled as ” willfully ignorant”.
    ( Go to the NC Coastal Resources Commission web site and look up the report.)

    Bill Price Pine Knoll Shores

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