Year 3, Month 6, Day 21: Post-Modernism As Policy, Chapter 29

North Carolina isn’t the only state with a stupidity surplus. Virginia is in the running:

State lawmakers ran into a problem this year when recommending a study on rising sea levels and their potential impacts on coastal Virginia.

It was not a scientific problem or a financial one. It was linguistic.

They discovered that they could not use the phrases “sea level rise” or “climate change” in requesting the study, in part because of objections from Republican colleagues and also for fear of stirring up conservative activists, some of whom believe such terms are liberal code words.

On its website, for example, the Virginia tea party described the proposed “sea level rise” study this way: “More wasted tax dollars for more ridiculous studies designed to separate us from our money and control all land and water use.”

The group urged its members to contact elected officials right away to defeat the measure: “They will pass this without blinking if we don’t yell loudly.”

So lawmakers did away with all mention of sea level rise, substituting a more politically neutral phrase: “recurrent flooding.”

The amended study, while fixed on the same research, sailed through the General Assembly and was signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, who also has raised questions about what is causing slightly higher temperatures on the planet.

How I wish this was unbelievable. Sent June 10:

Everybody seems to be risk-averse when it comes to discussing the problems that accompany the accelerating greenhouse effect. Democratic politicians tend to avoid the issue entirely if they can, while Republicans simultaneously cater to the emotional needs of their voter base (who entirely deny the existence of climate change) and the financial demands of their funders (who refuse to take responsibility for mitigating the mess they’ve helped create).

While Virginian lawmakers don’t want to use words like “sea-level rise,” because they’ve acquired negative political associations, North Carolina’s gone one step further, actually banning any techniques of measurement that could potentially yield troublesome numbers. “Ignore it and it will go away” works fine for the night-time fears of childhood, but it makes for a poor climate policy; it is long past time for America’s politicians to address the crisis rather than using terminological hairsplitting as an excuse for inaction and complacency.

Warren Senders

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