Synopsis. In coastal Virgina, rising sea levels from the planetary ice being melted by global warming is flooding marshes, killing vegetation, destroying habitats, and costing the state millions annually to stay ahead of the problems caused by it. So, among other things, the Virginia legislature, in funding a study to determine future sea level rise, changed the words “relative sea level rise” to “recurrent flooding” as a means of ignoring reality…
At least they weren’t as stupid as North Carolina and passed a bill banning sea level rise…not yet anyway…
In the salt marshes along the banks of the York River in the US state of Virginia, pine and cedar trees and bushes of holly and wax myrtle occupy small islands, known as hummocks.
But as the salty estuary waters have risen in recent years, they have drowned the trees on the hummocks’ lower edges. If – when – the sea level rises further, it will inundate and drown the remaining trees and shrubs, and eventually [flood] the entire marsh.
That threatens the entire surrounding ecosystem, because fish, oysters and crabs depend on the marsh grass for food.
“These are just the early warning signs of what’s coming,” says avian ecologist Bryan Watts, stepping carefully among the fallen pines.
To address the problem, climate scientists, environmentalists and their political supporters say the US must dramatically reduce its fossil fuel emissions, while also taking steps to lessen the impact of coastal flooding and wetland erosion.
[Virginia politicians] fear measures needed to curb climate change would hurt the economy,,,and harm commercial and industrial interests.
The city government of Norfolk spends about $6 [million] a year to elevate roads, improve drainage, and help homeowners literally raise their houses to keep their ground floors dry, says Assistant City Manager Ron Williams.
Even a measure as ostensibly mild as funding for a flooding study was fraught with climate change politics.
Senator Ralph Northam, a Democrat, and Chris Stolle, a Republican member of the Virginia’s lower House of Delegates, this year shepherded a resolution through the legislature spending $50,000 on a comprehensive study of the economic impact of coastal flooding on the Virginia and to investigate ways to adapt.
To pass the bill, at Stolle’s suggestion Northam excised the words “relative sea level rise” from an initial draft of the bill, replacing them with “recurrent flooding” in the final version.
Stolle says the change was necessary to ensure the bill focused on the issues Virginia politicians can handle — flooding — and not those they cannot address — global warming.
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