Commentary, News

As conservative legislators ignore sea level rise, locals move ahead without them

There is a somewhat encouraging story on sea level rise that’s worth your time this week in a Wilmington-based Port City Daily. In “How the Wilmington area deals with rising seas and an increasing number of floods,” reporter Benjamin Schachtman explains how local officials are planning and preparing for the inevitable rising waters that will impact coastal North Carolina more and more in the coming years.

This is from the story:

“Phil Prete was the Environmental Planner for City of Wilmington for 13 years, and helped direct the city’s response to rising sea levels.

‘Probably the most important thing, the first thing, when it comes to planning is not to look the other way, to actually address sea level rise and plan for the future,’ Prete said. ‘The next thing is to look to our neighbors. Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Charleston.’

Prete helped direct the city’s Community Resilience Pilot Project. The 2012-2013 project ultimately pulled in New Hanover County and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, and focused heavily on vulnerable infrastructure.

‘I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of that project. It was pretty much what I considered to be state of the art modeling at the time,’ Prete said.

The story goes on to detail some of the steps that Wilmington-area public officials and Duke Energy have begun to take to help protect public infrastructure. All in all, it’s a pretty encouraging story and, hopefully, emblematic of the kinds of actions coastal communities will be taking all over the planet.

But, of course, what’s obviously missing from the story is any kind of news regarding action by state lawmakers in Raleigh. As the story notes, a 2012 law enacted by Republican lawmakers “blocked state-level agencies from using predictive methods to determine the possible impact of rising sea levels.”

And nothing has really changed since. Not only do conservative politicians like Phil Berger and Tim Moore (and Donald Trump) remain in a criminally negligent state of denial about rising seas, their willful, head-in-the-sand ignorance carries over to one of the main underlying causes of the impending crisis: human-induced global warming.

The bottom line: When it comes to public service and leadership, there is noting more important than protecting the safety of the citizenry and the sustainability of the communities they inhabit. And on this front, conservative climate change deniers in power in Raleigh and Washington have made it plain that their dereliction of duty will continue. Let’s hope/pray/demand that local officials continue to step up to the plate in their stead.

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