'If science gives you a result you don't like, pass a law making the result illegal'

Linky. And another.

In brief, the North Carolina General Assembly has passed a law that places a four-year moratorium on changing the state’s policy on, and planning for, sea level changes. That’s rather odd given their state’s substantial and low-lying coastline; one might have expected the North Carolina legislators to welcome any new ‘scientifically valid’ data or information regarding sea level changes.

Alas, the new law restricts all sea-level predictions used to guide state policies for the next four years to those based on “historical data”. In other words, ‘don’t bother us with data that we (and our good friends, the coastal developers) don’t want to hear’.

As Stephen Colbert was quoted to say, “If your science gives you a result you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.”

ETA: Oops . . . I forgot to say that as an outside observer (I’m Canadian), I continue to be astounded by the current American epidemic of partisan subversion of reality-based solutions for reality-based problems.

I’m sure they can hold their next vote on repealing the law in their new underwater state capital building.

‘If politically motivated morons give an absurd prediction, pass a law to ignore it.’

Fixed that title for you.

Hey, it worked for evolution.

I’m amazed that you forgot to say that. Isn’t self-righteousness a Canadian genetic trait?

And in all seriousness, predicting sea level rise for 100 years out is incredibly difficult, and is not by any means empirical science. This isn’t like defining pi to be “3”.

While I’m sure the real estate lobby helped get this passed, it’s not at all unreasonable for a legislature to ignore the predictions in view of current interests, even if the predictions were well founded (which I don’t think they are, but you’d obviously disagree). In a case like sea level rise, anything that happens is going to be slow. If 2040 rolls around and the ocean has already gone up 10 inches, North Carolina can start worrying then.

Ah, the wonderful state of North Carolina. I blame the public schools…there was little to no emphasis on science at the one I attended.

I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but could someone explain how this is possible?

Perhaps this is how they will react

Well, at least NC has plenty of Baptists; they can actually sing.

wedgehed: wind and currents can cause uneven rises and falls of local sea-levels. It violates the old plumbers’ law that “water always seeks its own level,” but on a continental scale, the law doesn’t apply.

Fascinating to note that sea level at one end of the Panama Canal is quite a bit lower than at the other. If the canal were simply a ditch, there would be a very strong current flowing through it!

Say! They missed a bet there! It could be a canal and a hydroelectric power plant!

Which end has the higher sea level, Pacific or Atlantic/Caribbean? (I would guess the Atlantic/Caribbean side, since the Earth turns west-to-east, so the air and water flow/slosh east-to-west.)

I believe pi (the ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference) was legislated to be equal to 3 at one point in history for convenience sake.

That was proposed, once, but the bill (in Indiana) never passed. (And the proposed de jure value was 3.2 – not the Biblical 3.)


I guess **neuroman **thinks that calling scientists morons with no evidence whatsoever is a great point to make, or that the scientists are politically motivated.


The Master speaks!

It happened to be on the main page a couple days ago, at that.

They can stick their heads in the (fixing to be underwater) sand all they want; insurance companies will still laugh at beach development policy applications before tripling their rates.

Except the law was to ignore not just the current “prediction” but ALL NEW DATA regarding water levels around the coast for the next four years*. And that to you is, what, genius? I’d be careful about slinging that “moron” word around.

*Hmm. I wonder whether that applies to tsunami warnings, too.

Well, X-linked dominant, at least.

Fucking moron. What evidence do you have that the Coastal Resources Commission is politically motivated? And the prediction is hardly absurd. A 39-inch rise in the next 100 years is actually a pretty conservative prediction. The US National Research Council (which I’m sure dimwits like you believe is politically motivated) estimates sea level rise by the end of this century at between 22 and *79 * inches. Actual recent sea level rise has been higher than predictions.

The law apparently doesn’t prohibit using just the 39 inch figure, but any projections of future rise based on current data, even the more conservative ones.

It’s reasonable for the legislature to ignore the science if they want to abdicate any pretense of caring about the future welfare of the state. If sea level has risen 10 inches by 2040 and they haven’t done any planning for it, they are already fucked. While the rise may take place slowly, the most severe consequences are going to take place quickly and over a very short period of time. That kind of rise is going to mean higher storm surges during hurricanes, for one thing. A big hurricane - the kind that may hit every 10 years - hitting the coast when the infrastructure is built to withstand a much lower storm surge would cause enormous devastation.

This is North Carolina we’re talking about. They’re still questioning the science of smoking being bad for you.