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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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.


According to Rob Young, a geology professor at Western Carolina University and a member of the state appointed board, North Carolina is the only state to ignore the scientific evidence that the sea level is rising exponentially.

“Every other state in the country is planning on three-feet of sea level rise or more,” he told the North Carolina Coastal Federation. “This bill requires the state of North Carolina to live in total ignorance of that. It basically prevents DCM [Division of Coastal Management] from even considering that sea level rise in the future might be different than it is today.”

Of course, making it illegal to predict that the sea level will rise a meter over the next 100 years does not mean that it won’t happen. Developers may get rich today by building in the flood zone, but given that North Carolina’s coast is especially vulnerable to flooding, it’s easy to imagine bridges, airports, and other structures that will be in use for decades being rendered useless by rising water.

As East Carolina University geologist Stan Riggs told News & Observer of Raleigh, “You can’t legislate the ocean, and you can’t legislate storms.”

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.