Cheaper to plan now?
The bill is now in the state House of Representatives, which is showing signs that it may be less enthusiastic about the controversial measure. That has led some observers to suspect that the chamber might be thinking about avoiding a vote on the bill before the Legislature adjourns later this month.
The House majority whip, Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R), didn't dispute that scenario in an email late last week. "We want to talk about it before taking action," she said.
Opponents are concerned about the potential costs of restrictions related to sea-level rise, like lost land to wetland status and degraded tax revenue. But other communities say the cost could be bigger if future threats aren't planned for.
Copenhagen, Denmark, has proposed a suite of recommendations to lift buildings and infrastructure higher, strengthen them against water damage and avoid areas prone to flood. It assumes the sea will rise 1 meter over the next century but acknowledges that its policies need to be flexible -- and revisited often -- to account for future uncertainty.
But in the end, the city's climate adaptation plan says, it's "cheapest by far to establish the protection over a longer period, where sections can be protected in connection with other construction projects."
For his part, Rahmstorf says he and other scientists can continue to talk publicly about the methods by which they estimate future sea-level rise, in the hopes that public officials will become more comfortable with their findings.
He begins by highlighting the evidence of North Carolina's salt marshes because they are a storyline from the past -- a period that state lawmakers seem to be emphasizing over future predictions developed by computer models.
"This is not the result of some horrendously complex model," Rahmstorf says of sea-level rise's connection to warming temperatures. "This is experience based on the past."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500