Quantcast
Climate
Houses on Topsail Island, NC, are already threatened by beach erosion and flooding. LOGAN CYRUS / AFP / Getty Images

Climate-Denying Law Could Make Hurricane Florence More Dangerous

A 2012 law could make North Carolina more vulnerable to hurricanes like Florence, which is expected to approach the state later Thursday, CBS reported.

The law banned policy makers from using up-to-date climate science to plan for sea level rise, which is expected to make flooding from storms like Florence worse.


"Currently the unspoken plan is to wait until the situation is catastrophic and then respond. We must begin the retreat now," retired Duke University coastal geologist Orrin H. Pilkey wrote in a recent op-ed for Raleigh's News & Observer.

The law came as a response to a 2010 Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) report that predicted sea levels on the Carolina coast would rise 39 inches by 2100, putting 2,000 square miles of property at risk, The Charlotte Observer explained.

Real estate interests and some politicians worried the report could chill coastal development and increase insurance, so the state legislature passed a law banning agencies from making sea level rise policies until 2016.

"By putting our heads in the sand, literally, for four years, we are not helping property owners. We are hurting them because we are not giving them information they may need to protect their property," Democratic Representative Deborah Ross said in 2012, according to The Charlotte Observer.

The bill, which became law when Democratic Governor Bev Perdue neither signed nor vetoed it, instructed the CRC to write a new sea-level-rise report that restricted its scope to the next 30 years, took into account scientific studies refuting sea level rise and assessed the economic cost of limiting coastal development.

It was sponsored by Republican Representative Pat McElraft, a former real-estate agent whose top contributors included the North Carolina Association of Realtors and the North Carolina Home Builders Association.

"You can believe whatever you want about global warming, but when you go to make planning policies here for our residents and protecting their property values and insurance rates ... it's a very serious thing to us on the coast," McElraft said in 2012, according to The Charlotte Observer.

However, others warned that the bill itself would be a "very serious thing" for coastal dwellers.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation warned at the time that the bill undermined years of work by emergency agencies "to help prepare the state for hurricanes," according to CBS.

This week, the Union of Concerned Scientists warned that the increased average sea level along the Carolina coast could make the storm surge from Hurricane Florence more dangerous.

Since the bill was passed, studies have continued to show that the Carolina coast is already being impacted by sea level rise.

One, published in August, found that five Southeast states including North Carolina had already lost $7.4 billion in home values to sea level rise.

High tides are already causing flooding on non-windy days on streets like Front Street in Beaufort, Bay Street in Morehead City and Memorial Street in Nags Head, Pilkey wrote in his op-ed.

He advised that, going forward, the state increase setback lines to limit coastal development, raise the height of buildings, move back threatened buildings, prohibit rebuilding of storm-destroyed buildings and initiate a planned retreat from the rising water line.

"The time has come for action on our shoreline," Pilkey wrote. "There is no question that the climate will change drastically. It already has. And with that changing climate will come big changes at the shoreline. We used to believe that we could hold the shoreline in place but clearly that is an economic and engineering impossibility."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Business
A Co-op grocery store location in Shoreditch, London. The Co-op Group / CC BY 2.0

Supermarket Becomes First in UK to Replace Single-Use Plastic Bags With Compostable Alternative

Since 2015, all large stores in England have been required by law to charge five pence for single-use plastic bags in an attempt to reduce plastic pollution.

Now, major UK supermarket chain the Co-op is taking that one step further by phasing out plastic bags entirely and replacing them with compostable alternatives, becoming the first supermarket in the UK to do so, The Guardian reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Tiger: Bernard DuPont (CC BY-SA 2.0); Wolf: John and Karen Hollingsworth /USFWS

Tigers and Wolves: The Reigning Cats and Dogs in Conservation?

By John R. Platt

Do the species most in need of conservation also receive the most scientific research?

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A tiger in Dhikala, Nepal. Ranjith Kumar 2016 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Wild Tiger Population Nearly Doubles in Nepal

Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, Nepal now has an estimated 235 wild tigers in the country, a nearly twofold increase from its baseline of 121 individuals in 2009, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) announced Sunday on the occasion of Nepal's National Conservation Day.

The South Asian nation is now on track to become the first country to double its tiger population as part of WWF's "TX2" goal to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022—the next year of the tiger on the Chinese zodiac.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
North Carolina hog CAFO in Hurricane Florence floodwaters, Sept. 18. Larry Baldwin / Crystal Coast Waterkeeper / Waterkeeper Alliance

In a Warming World, Carolina CAFOs Are a Disaster for Farmers, Animals and Public Health

By Karen Perry Stillerman

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I've joined millions who've watched with horror as the Carolinas have been inundated with floodwaters and worried about the various hazards those waters can contain. We've seen heavy metal-laden coal ash spills, a nuclear plant go on alert (thankfully without incident), and sewage treatment plants get swamped. But the biggest and most widely reported hazard associated with Florence appears to be the hog waste that is spilling from many of the state's thousands of CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), and which threatens lasting havoc on public health and the local economy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Models are seen backstage ahead of the Chika Kisada show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2019 on Sept. 24. Tristan Fewings / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

Milan Fashion Week Closes with ‘Oscars of Sustainable Fashion’

Milan Fashion Week closed on Sunday with the second annual "Green Carpet Fashion Awards" to promote sustainability in the fashion industry, Reuters reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
An art installation of a polar bear crossing a New York City street. Thomas Jackson / Getty Images

7 Events to Check Out During the 10th Annual Climate Week NYC

Monday marks the start of the 10th annual Climate Week NYC. From Sept. 24 to the 30, non-profit The Climate Group has invited businesses, governments, nonprofit organizations, universities and art and music organizations to host a wide variety of affiliated events devoted to raising awareness and prompting action around climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health
Pexels

5 Ingredients for Health: Starting with Food

On Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg, Dr. Robert Graham—board-certified physician and founder of FRESHMed NYC—combines mainstream medical practices with therapies inspired by ancient wisdom: an integrative model of medicine. "My dad was a biochemist, so I grew up in this integrative model. One of the things that really stood out is my mom was distrustful about the conventional Western model. She still thinks she's the only doctor in the house, because food is such a powerful medicine, especially from her culture," said Graham.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Malte Mueller / Getty Images

When Profit Drives Us, Community Suffers

By David Korten

As I was reading the current series of YES! articles on the mental health crisis, I received an email from Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at University of Notre Dame. She was sending me articles being prepared for an anthology she is co-editing with the working title Sustainable Vision.The articles present lessons from indigenous culture that underscore why community is the solution to so much of what currently ails humanity.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!