Limits on scientists’ North Carolina sea-level rise study could be loosened
RALEIGH. Limits placed on scientists reporting on sea level rise may be eased by a North Carolina commission that sets policies for coastal management.
The science advisory panel to the Coastal Resources Commission was limited to looking 30 years ahead in its sea level rise forecast for the North Carolina coast after a 2010 report estimating the ocean would rise 39 inches by 2100 inflamed developers and legislators.
As the science advisory panel is preparing for the five-year update to its 2015 sea level rise study, its standing instructions that it look ahead 30 years may change.
“The new charge may be a little bit different,” commission Chairwoman Renee Cahoon said in an interview Monday.
The commission will discuss at its September meeting what instructions to give the science panel, she said.
The legislature pushed back on the 2010 science report forecasting sea level rise would accelerate in the middle of the century. Responding to the report, the state Senate wanted sea-level rise forecasts to rely on historical rates, The News & Observer reported.
The Senate proposal was widely mocked. Stephen Colbert featured it in a segment on his show The Colbert Report. “If your science gives you a result that you don’t like, pass a law saying that the result is illegal,” he said. “Problem solved.”
The final law, House bill 819, ultimately did not limit the science panel to looking only at historical data, but did require consideration of a range of views, including hypotheses that sea levels would fall or the rise would slow, as it developed the report. The law also prohibited any policies based on sea-level forecasts for four years.
And as Hurricane Florence bore down on North Carolina last year, the state’s limited sea level rise forecast was back in the national spotlight, The News & Observer reported.
A report this year found that North Carolina was a leading state in building homes that will be in the 10-year flood zone by 2050, if global warming is controlled in line with the Paris climate agreement, the N&O reported.