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Happy World Oceans Day from North Carolina!


It’s World Oceans Day today (in North Carolina it’s “No It’s Not!” Day), so the moment seemed opportune for a very brief followup on the Plugged-In post of a week or so ago about the NC state legislature considering a law that would make it all kinds of illegal for you to try to figure out what the ocean was likely to do in the next century. That in turn generated a bit of attention for the pure madness that passes for legislation in my state of North Carolina.

I couldn't find an image of Poseidon with his head in his hands, so this will have to do.

Some of the news since then is terrible – I got a lot of pushback (look for it on my Facebook page, on June 1) about my post being “hysterical North Carolina bashing,” what with the legislation being merely floated and having no actual champion. Well, that’s changed: the legislation has since then passed –unanimously! – out of the NC Senate’s Environment, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee, and its on-the-record champion is state senator David Rouzer, a Republican “Young Gun” currently looking to take his message of “Science is dumb” to the U.S. Congress. The NC Senate, perhaps abashed to consider such absurdity on World Oceans Day, will discuss the matter further next week.

Some of the news is better. The Colbert Report took the NC legislators to task for their knuckleheaddery, which has helped draw more attention to both NC and oceanic reality.

North Carolinians like me still hope that shining a light on this will keep this legislation from going much further, but then again we thought shining a light on it the first time would keep it from going any further at all. With the whole world laughing at them, the members of the committee voted unanimously to move forward. So our hopes, though high, are diminished.

By the way – if you’re wondering, here’s the report the NC Coastal Resources Commission first requested and then rejected.

And here, once again, is the original legislation the hopes to make it illegal not only for anybody not in the Division of Coastal Management to develop a sea level rise estimate (including, many fear, the university science departments themselves) but for anybody at all to make such an estimate based on anything but linear projection of the historical record.

So: happy World Oceans Day from North Carolina, where some of us expect to have a lot more oceans to love over the next century, and others want to put those of us who believe that in jail.


The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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