Ben Chou, Water Policy Analyst, Washington, D.C.
As you may have heard (or even seen) by now, North Carolina legislators are circulating a bill that would require the NC Division of Coastal Management to only use historic rates of sea level rise to project future changes in sea level, ignoring the reality of accelerated sea level rise rates caused by melting glaciers and expansion of the oceans due to global warming.
The difference between a scenario that relies on historic rates of sea level rise and one that considers climate change is substantial. In 2010, the state’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards took into consideration historic and projected future rates of sea level rise and recommended that the state plan for a rise in sea level of 39 inches (3.3 feet) by 2100. If based solely on historic rates, sea level would be projected to only rise 8 inches by 2100—a difference of over 2.5 feet.
- Coastal flooding in Elizabeth City, NC (courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
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