Comedy Central satirist, former presidential candidate, and South Carolina native Stephen Colbert says he’s worried about a scientific projection that climate change could leave his beach house in the Palmetto State underwater. Luckily, North Carolina lawmakers seem to have developed the perfect solution.
On his show Monday night, Colbert discussed a North Carolina science panel’s finding that sea levels could rise nearly a meter by the end of the century due to melting polar ice. “We have no idea how much damage that could cause, because it’s metric,” quipped Colbert.
But according to the Charlotte Observer’s Bruce Henderson, a special interest group representing coastal developers is working to convince North Carolina leaders that the projection simply doesn’t exist — and it’s working:
The Coastal Resources Commission agreed to delete references to planning benchmarks – such as the 1-meter prediction – and new development standards for areas likely to be inundated. The N.C. Division of Emergency Management, which is using a $5 million federal grant to analyze the impact of rising water, lowered its worst-case scenario from 1 meter to 15 inches by 2100. Several local governments on the coast have passed resolutions against sea-level rise policies.
When the General Assembly convened this month, Republican legislators went further. They circulated a bill that authorizes only the coastal commission to calculate how fast the sea is rising. It said the calculations must be based only on historic trends, leaving out the accelerated rise that climate scientists widely expect this century if warming increases and glaciers melt.
“I think this is a brilliant solution,” Colbert commented Monday night. “If your science gives you a result that you don’t like, pass a law saying that the result is illegal. Problem solved.”
The faux-conservative TV host then extrapolated the logic of using only historical data to project climate models. “I don’t want to die,” said Colbert. “But if you take only historical data, I’ve been alive my entire life. Therefore I always will be.”
Watch the video below before I get all “but climate change is no laughing matter…”
Seriously though, South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources devoted a study to the possible effects of global warming on the Palmetto State — and none of them are good. During his exit interview with state senators earlier this year, former DNR chief John Frampton discussed the importance of a proactive approach to the reality of climate change — though that may have been part of the reason why Gov. Haley’s administration worked to force Frampton out in favor of a more “business-friendly” approach to the state’s natural resources.
In February, a Winthrop Poll found that about 72 percent of South Carolinians (including 61 percent of Republicans) believe climate change is real and that humans are either greatly or somewhat contributing to it. However, 47 percent of those surveyed believe stricter environmental laws and regulations cost too many jobs. So while we recognize global warming is happening and that we are at least partially to blame, nearly half of us don’t seem to want to do anything about it.
Click here for information about the projected effects of climate change on the coast.