State must seriously consider climate change
Monday, October 22, 2018
After Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael left their trails of death and destruction across North Carolina, it’s time to clean up, repair, help those in need and move forward. But it also should be time to think about what environmental lessons these powerful storms leave behind. Maybe we can be smarter as we face the future.
One thing should be clear: When people in North Carolina, especially legislators and government officials, wrestle with issues such as how to handle hog waste and coal ash, how much development to allow on beaches and in other vulnerable areas and whether to promote the use of cleaner energy, the debates aren’t just abstract discussions about politics, money or being business friendly. They can also be about life and death and whether our way of doing things is sustainable.
It’s folly to ignore solid science about climate change when warming is already having noticeable effects, as the recent report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made more clear than ever. Among its dire projections, we can expect more frequent major hurricanes that, like Florence, are difficult to predict and extremely wet.
It’s folly, in other words, to continue the policies adopted in 2012, when the legislature passed a law ordering state and local agencies to disregard scientific models showing expected sea-level rise when setting coastal development policies. As a result, coastal development has boomed.
North Carolina could help slow climate change by adopting progressive policies such as encouraging clean cars and alternative power sources. The state also can be smarter about planning for the probability of major storms and flooding.
The full extent of the environmental damage from Florence will be discovered as we see how badly the state’s rivers, sounds and ground water have been polluted.
Another hard lesson is that floodplain maps are outdated. Part of the problem is development — as open land is paved for development, more water runs off rather than soaking into the ground. Combine that with more frequent and wetter storms...
Many homes flooded by Florence did not have flood insurance. People who live in recognized floodplains are usually required to buy flood insurance, but many other people can and probably should.
Even if we do everything possible in North Carolina, it might not be enough. Climate change is a global problem that requires a global response.
But we’ve still got to do everything we can, including voting for candidates who take the problem seriously.
Winston Salem Journal