In My Opinion

Banned words in some states: Rising sea levels

 

fgrimm@MiamiHerald.com

It must be frustrating for our guys in Tallahassee. The governor and the legislative leadership have made it plenty clear that they have no use for this global warming stuff. Yet climate scientists keep dumping water on Florida’s future.

The latest damper comes from Climate Central, which just published two papers in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters, warning that due to global warming and rising sea levels, 3.7 million Americans reside in areas with an escalating risk of storm surge and coastal flooding. Half of them are in Florida. South Florida comes out looking particularly soggy.

Last year, Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions warned that rising sea levels will back up drainage canals, inundate roads, farms and low-lying neighborhoods, cause sewage systems and septic tanks to fail and inject salt water into water wells.

Obviously, something needs to be done. About those damn scientists, of course. Not global warming.

Like-minded legislators and state officials in Texas, Virginia and North Carolina — states with their own coastal vulnerabilities — have shown Florida just how to deal with such annoyances. They erase offending words and passages. They made it flat out illegal for state planners and zoning officials to refer to nettlesome scientific findings that might hurt coastal property values.

Last year the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which had commissioned a scientific study of Galveston Bay, excised references to rising sea levels. “You can debate climate warming, but sea level is going up; it’s measured globally, with satellites,” the study’s lead author, John Anderson of Rice University, told reporters. “For them to be so bold as to remove it — they actually omitted whole sentences that mentioned sea level rise.”

A spokesman shrugged off the criticism, noting that the commission had paid for the study (albeit with public funds): “We have the right to make sure it reflects our views.”

Last week in Virginia, the General Assembly approved a study on the effects of sea-level rise only after references to “sea level rise” were removed. The phenomenon has been rechristened “recurrent flooding.” References to “climate change” have similarly disappeared from the official Virginia lexicon.

North Carolina has its own novel way of dealing with troublesome eggheads and their talk of coastal flooding. A bill was approved in a state Senate committee last week that would require the state’s Division of Coastal Management to use “historic data,” not these global warming projections, to predict sea levels.

Developers had been upset by a 2010 report from the Coastal Resources Commission advising state officials to prepare for a sea level increase of up to 55 inches by 2100. Not good news for coastal developers looking for loans and flood insurance. But developers have clout. And scientists don’t.

Legislators across the Old Confederacy have shown Florida how to cope with all this annoying talk of global warming, rising seas, coastal flooding and devastating hurricane surges:

Censor the reports. Change the words. Or pass a law that says to hell with science. And never mind the future.

Read more Political Currents stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Equality Florida volunteers and supporters gathered in Tallahassee on July 17 after a Monroe County judge struck down Florida's constitutional ban on gay marriage.

    Gay marriage

    LGBT-rights group Equality Florida raises profile, builds clout

    A gay-rights group hopes to carry its newly found political clout into the November elections.

  • POLITICS

    Feds to monitor Fla. election law changes

    Gov. Rick Scott’s office and campaign are attacking as ‘blatantly political’ a letter from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announcing that the Justice Department is monitoring changes to Florida’s election laws.

  •  
Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis

    REDISTRICTING

    Fla. judge orders new congressional map

    A Florida judge is giving legislators two weeks to fix its congressional map, requiring a special session, and is considers calling for a special election for the revised districts.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category