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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Today In Stupid: North Carolina Considers A Law Against Predicting Sea Level Rise

Today In Stupid: North Carolina Considers A Law Against Predicting Sea Level Rise

Perhaps searching for a way to one-up their much derided anti-marriage law, North Carolina lawmakers are considering ban on science with a new bill that would essentially make it illegal to predict a rise in the sea level.

After a state-appointed board of scientists determined that a one meter rise in sea level is likely by the year 2100 — echoing the scientific consensus on the issue — a coastal economic development group called NC-20 decided to push back against the results. They are upset that such an estimate would thwart development along the coast, as it would be illegal to build in the “flood zone” where there is under one meter of elevation.

“If you’re wrong and you start planning today at 39 inches, you could lose millions of dollars in development and 2,000 square miles would be condemned as a flood zone,” Tom Thompson, the chairman of NC-20, told News & Observer of Raleigh.

So, with NC-20’s support, Republican lawmakers circulated Replacement House Bill 819. The key language can be found in section 2, paragraph e:

[Rates of sea level rise] 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.

Scientific American‘s Scott Huler explains why this is completely insane:

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.

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