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Coastal County Officials Fight To Outlaw Predictions Of Rising Sea Levels

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File photo of waves breaking on a beach. (Photo by HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/GettyImages)

File photo of waves breaking on a beach. (Photo by HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/GettyImages)

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RALEIGH, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) – When a panel of scientists appointed by the state of North Carolina warned the government of rising sea levels, critics rallied against their claims and urged local lawmakers to ignore the reports.

And governments up and down the coast may take heed – to the protesters.

The Charlotte Observer is reporting that the opposing group, NC-20, expressed concern regarding the negative effects acts of preparation could have on coastal commerce. Named for the 20 counties that border the Atlantic Ocean, the economic development group has tried hard to debunk the findings of the panel.

The scientists, however, are reportedly holding firm to their belief that, by the year 2100, the ocean could rise up to one meter from where it is at present. Such a surge would allegedly affect 2,000 square miles of coastal land.

All the same, several governments have already passed resolutions against policies that factor warnings of rising sea levels into planning, the Observer found.

Republican legislators additionally introduced a bill that would reportedly recalculate the rate of the surge based on historical trends, without incorporating the effects of global warming into the new study.

Tom Thompson, who heads up NC-20 and serves as the director of economic development in Beaufort County, told the paper that his group are sure that climate change and the rise of sea levels are merely natural cycles, and that the scientists presenting information regarding rapid rising are wrong.

He added that computer models predicting a faster rising rate could produce inaccurate data.

“If you’re wrong and you start planning today at 39 inches, you could lose millions of dollars in development and 2,000 square miles would be condemned as a flood zone,” Thompson said to the Observer. “Is it really a risk to wait five years and see?”

But Geologist Stan Riggs at East Carolina University told the paper that the previously indicated findings are accurate, according to most research.

“We’re throwing this science out completely, and what’s proposed is just crazy for a state that used to be a leader in marine science,” he added. “You can’t legislate the ocean, and you can’t legislate storms.”

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