Today's in-box contained this column about the NC legislature's attempt to prevent anyone from making laws to address sea-level rise, along with a question as to whether the article made a reasonable point.

When I first saw the title, my first thought was that it had to be intended sarcastically... but no. It claims that criticism of the NC legislature is just wagon-circling, and that the legislation was written in an attempt to improve scientific rigor in the matter:

A much more accurate characterization of the two sides are: 1) a handful of CRC-selected scientists who are bent on promoting their personal political agenda, who wrote a sea-level rise report that violated numerous scientific standards, vs. 2) a collection of independent, world-class sea-level rise experts who have gone on record to express their displeasure with said scientists’ report."

...

"NC-20’s primary agenda is that state policies should be based on genuine scientific assessments."

Here is what I wrote in response:

When a Republican supporter claims that something violates scientific standards, you can be reasonably certain that the target is above reproach and it is the Republican trying to violate scientific standards.

Some key excerpts from the bill are quoted here:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/06/05/does-anyone-understand-what-north-carolina-is-trying-to-do-here/

1. It prevents any community from adopting rules or laws that mention sea-level rise unless the community is itself in a coastal area.

Sounds good on the surface, right? Unless you remember that...

- everyone contributes to global warming, which contributes to sea-level rise. Any attempt to mention sea-level rise as justification for reducing pollution would now be illegal in most of NC.

- inland farming communities that need to plan how rising sea levels would affect saltwater intrusion into local water tables could not make ordinances or laws referencing sealevel rise at all.

How 'bout that "small government", eh?

2. Any coastal community that is allowed to make any such rule has to base its estimates of sea-level rise on figures from the Division of Coastal Management, which itself must ASSUME THAT RATES WILL NOT ACCELERATE -- the actual phrasing is "shall be determined using historical data [...] limited to the time period following the year 1900" and "may be extrapolated linearly" and "may not include scenarios of accelerated rise".

In other words, it would be illegal for anyone to make laws that in any way 
reference the best scientific estimates of sea-level rise.

They're trying to legislate reality. This is barely any better than the much-
cited but fictional attempt to legally define pi as equal to exactly three.

There's some further discussion here:

http://www.nccoast.org/blog-post.aspx?k=03bf9ca5-1477-454b-8216-82cbd2962148

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On further consideration, I want to see what that "collection of independent, world-class sea-level rise experts" actually said, and who they are.

I bet it'll piss me off even further that they're being described that way, and that their argument is being presented as worthy of consideration (without actually saying what it is).
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