One prediction that climate scientists have been consistently behind is the idea that as polar ice melts, the sea levels will rise. It is thought that this will be devastating to coastal communities, and it is predicted that some areas will be completely swallowed up by the rising waters.
Presently, coastal community leaders are contemplating how to address the issue. Do they work to protect all coastal areas or only a portion? What is the plan for evacuating individuals in the event of a devastating rise in sea water? Will coastal communities abandon certain areas in the event of rapidly rising waters?
Climate scientists and community planners are finding that preparing for rising sea levels is not a “one-and-done” approach. It is not as simple as organizing a retreat from coastal communities.
Even with all the warnings coming from climate scientists, many coastal community citizens believe that rising sea levels is merely a hoax. In fact, these deniers will methodically plod through papers and scientific journals in an effort to find evidence that a rise in sea waters is mere foolery. Many of these citizens will even show up at city council meetings in an effort to oppose the planning of guidelines for the event of rising sea levels.
Climate scientists and city planners are beginning to understand that it’s not so much that these individuals are climate change deniers, but more an issue of ignorance. Most of these citizens who challenge rising sea water planning simply do not understand the consequences of the issue. In Galveston, Texas, most citizens are happy to do whatever necessary to prevent future flooding. Galveston is a place often prone to flooding (typically after a devastating hurricane), so its citizens understand the effects of devastating flooding.
One area that many city planners are targeting is the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This area is a 200 mile stretch of islands outside North Carolina, and they are constantly being changed by Mother Nature herself. Hurricanes change the area constantly, and erosion from ocean waves continues to reshape the islands. This area became the focus of a group of scientists in 2010, when they combed through peer-reviewed literature discussing the possibility of a dramatic sea level rise by the year 2100. In fact, these papers predict there will be at least one meter of sea level rise by that time.
The citizens of the area were livid. Most of them dissected the report line-by-line. However, the backlash was so awful that the scientists encounter were astounded.
Some citizens cited papers that claimed there was actually very little progress in any sea rise levels. These papers were posted in scientific journals. The citizens were adamant in their arguments; they believed the 2010 paper was hogwash, and they weren’t about to accept any planning committee’s recommendations on how to adapt to or prevent this drastic rise in sea waters.
The citizens hurt their argument, however, by citing websites who are set up solely to disprove claims of climate change and global warming. One resident employed the papers of climate skeptics Steve McIntyre, S. Fred Singer, and Nils-Axel Morner.
What it comes down to is a simple fact – while the citizens don’t want to see their communities washed away by sea level rise, they believe the regulations that the city planners wanted to put into place were an encroachment upon personal freedoms. One regulation forbid the permit of new septic tanks in the eastern portion of Carteret County, NC.
In Virginia, the proposed destruction of a parking lot brought about a lot of criticism from citizens. Residents of the Chincoteague area understand that tourism is an important part of their economy; eliminating the frequently flooded parking lot in question brought a backlash from the locals.
The city proposed getting rid of the parking lot and moving the access to the beach area in Chincoteague a mile and one-half away, using a shuttle to get beachcombers to and from their vehicles. Residents believed that this would drive away tourists, affecting their businesses and lifestyle.
Scientists are unfazed by the citizens’ protest. Rice University scientist John Anderson said “a fire . . . has been lit . . . under us; we must fight.”
Time is running out for coastal cities; will the citizens comply?