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Friday, June 15, 2012

North Carolina Republicans Forget King Canute

King Canute of England at the Sea

In New Scientist:

North Carolina Tries To Outlaw Climate Models
17:55 15 June 2012 by Hannah Krakauer
... Legislators in North Carolina are apparently of the same mindset. When a state-appointed commission announced that North Carolinians could expect 39 inches of sea-level rise by 2100, the Senate responded with a bill that legally prevents the Division of Coastal Management from using the climate model that forecasts fast-rising sea levels. Instead, the legislators would like to see coastal management use only a linear model, which predicts a mere 8-inch rise by the same year.
The 8-inch model, based solely on historical records from the last 100 years, flies in the face of modern climate science. Sea level rise is due to a combination of climate-driven factors: warmer temperatures cause ocean water to expand, and rising temperatures are melting the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps. The combined feedback makes for exponential – not linear – growth. Yet the North Carolina bill states: "Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise."
"This is unprecedented," says Orrin Pilkey, professor emeritus of geology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "It's the first time a law has dictated the shape of a curve."
 Of course, what happens if the sea does rise over 8 inches? Will the coastal sheriff's departments be ordered out to arrest the culprit?

Personally, I think this business of holding the legislature up to appearing ridiculous and grossly ineffective is a bad primer for democracy, but other matters seem to have priority.

North Carolina has forgotten the history of King Canute, a story we all learned back in grade school:
 BBC  Is King Canute Misunderstood?
The first written account of the Canute episode was in Historia Anglorum (The History of the English People) by chronicler Henry of Huntingdon, who lived within 60 years of the death of Canute (1035 AD).
According to the story, the king had his chair carried down to the shore and ordered the waves not to break upon his land.
When his orders were ignored, he pronounced: "Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless and there is no King worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven and earth and sea obey eternal laws," (Historia Anglorum, ed D E Greenway).
 May the General Assembly of North Carolina - Republican majority in both Houses - profit by King Canute's words.


Unknown said...

This is the stupidest thing I've heard of in a long time. "We don't like the scientific number . . . hey, I know: let's pass a law that the number is no good." What has happened to us?

Montag said...

Tea Party Republicans used to only be a problem when they mouthed off their idiocy at the neighborhood bar; now they're in Congress.