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U.S. Opinions: New York

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Tidal politics in N.C., Va.

From an editorial in the New York Times on Monday:

The politics of climate change are veering in starkly different directions in the neighboring states of North Carolina and Virginia. Foolhardy denial about the severity of rising seas is under way in North Carolina, where the Republican legislature, prodded by tourism-dependent coastal counties and alarmed homeowners, ordered a state commission to soften its estimate that coastal waters could rise 39 inches by the end of the century. The commission was told to revise its outlook, take into account dissenting views and produce a forecast of no more than 30 years – in hopes of keeping the estimated sea-level rise to no more than 8 inches.

By contrast in Virginia, a bipartisan group of political leaders is forthrightly talking about the problem. Last week, they met to consider ways to adapt the low-lying Hampton Roads region to science-based predictions that the seas will rise at least a foot in 30 years and 5 feet or more by the end of the century.

At the heart of the Hampton Roads area is Norfolk, home to the world’s largest naval base and a city that the White House warned in May is among the nation’s most vulnerable to rising sea levels.

The anxiety of commercial interests and homeowners is understandable. But they are not helped by pandering politicians who choose to see no further than the span of their own careers – and are shirking the challenge of climate change.

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