Year 2, Month 1, Day 18: Denial Is Flooding

The Charlotte Observer recognizes that rising ocean levels will have significant implications for people who live on the coast.

Rising sea level is the clearest signal of climate change in North Carolina. Few places in the United States stand to be more transformed.

About 2,000 square miles of our low, flat coast, an area nearly four times the size of Mecklenburg County, is 1 meter (about 39 inches) or less above water.

At risk are more than 30,500 homes and other buildings, including some of the state’s most expensive real estate. Economists say $6.9 billion in property, in just the four counties they studied, will be at risk from rising seas by late this century.

The comments on the article perfectly illustrate the point of my letter.

The equations are simple. The atmosphere warms and the ice melts; the ice melts and the sea rises; the sea rises and people lose their land and their homes. It’s only now that US citizens are beginning to experience things that people in Bangladesh (where only a few feet separate “highlands” from “lowlands”) have known for years. And the gradually rising ocean waters are accompanied by another, equally insidious tide: a greater percentage of Americans doubt the scientific evidence for global warming than ever before. Just as our industry adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates (despite the fact that their effects were predicted over fifty years ago), our media broadcasts the voices of denial, making a mockery of a genuine emergency. When did expertise, training and insight become liabilities in our public discourse? What will it take for us to recognize the danger we’re facing?

Warren Senders

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