Tuesday, November 19, 2013

N.C.'s sea-level craziness spreads to Museum of Natural Sciences

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 9:30 AM

The ongoing battle between reality and fantasy in the state's approach to rising coastal waters has now reached a new level of goofiness, spreading to the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. First, some background:

The Outer Banks
  • Dave Coleman (Flickr Creative Commons)
  • The Outer Banks

Last August, the General Assembly entered a surreal La-La Land when lawmakers disallowed the use of climate scientists' projections to determine how much sea levels will rise on N.C.'s coast. Only "historical data" - in other words, the rates of sea level rise in the pre-climate change era - can be used, said our wise leaders. You see, some of the legislators' biggest contributors are real estate developers, and those folks did not like the latest scientific projections that said the N.C. shoreline will rise about a meter by the end of the century, which would effectively put the Outer Banks underwater. Heck, if word got out, people might not want to build more McMansions on shifting sands - you can just imagine what that would do to realtors' bonuses and such. Not long after developers figured out the grave danger that pesky scientific facts pose to their business, the legislature obliged their friends by simply outlawing such subversive info in N.C. government policymaking.
Now, according to our friends at Indy Week in Durham, Emlyn Koster, director of the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, will not allow the N.C. Coastal Federation, a non - profit advocacy group, to screen a documentary about rising sea levels at the museum's Science Café. Shored Up, a film by director Ben Kalina, looks at coastal communities in New Jersey and North Carolina, insomuch as rising sea levels and superstorms are now part of human reality. Or at least the reality of those humans who trust science more than, say, wishful thinking or wooly caterpillars.

Federation officials told Indy Week that museum officials told them the documentary would have to be reviewed by "several levels" of museum management and that, due to the politically sensitive subject, the museum wanted to include a post-viewing panel discussion. Those federation officials said they were led to believe the film would be shown at a later date, followed by the panel discussion, but now Koster has told the museum's programming committee that the documentary would not be shown at the museum, period.

Here's the surrealistic kicker: Koster told Indy Week that the museum needs to "ensure an objective science-centered approach." Unlike, say, current N.C. law.

Note that the museum is under the direction of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, currently being run by anti-environmentalism's poster boy, John Skvarla. In the next two years, the museum is scheduled to get $12 million from the state.

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