The politics of sea level rise-North Carolina outer banks

Development and use of the NC Outer Banks has been a political fight between those who believe in catastrophic seal level rise predictions and those who do not.  The latest salvo seems to be a piece in the Raleigh News and Observer showing a beach house in the waves during a nor’easter.  The Outer Banks are a 200 mile chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina with a bit going into Virginia.  They are a tremendous vacation location, excellent for sport fishing (except when I go) and a major source of income for North Carolina.  They are, however, essentially low lying sand dunes and are subject to erosion, especially during storms.  One of the reasons that the NC coast was called the Graveyard of the Atlantic was from the shifting sands of the Outer Banks.  For as long as I can remember, the government has been pumping money into stabilizing them.

With the advent of global warming and scary predictions of sea level rise of 39″ by the end of the century, the government started doing something.  Usually doing something ends up with taxes, rules and all sorts of activity.   A group called NC-20 questioned the soundness of the science of catastrophic sea level rise and won by getting a more reasoned look and study of the potential problem and a delay for until 2016 for actions.

The battle has been on for quite some time.  The latest is this piece in the News and Observer covering the politics.  It all comes down to whether you believe the catastrophic predictions based on models with no track record for accuracy or assume something closer to the historical sea level rise.  The picture of the beach house in the waves of a nor-easter is a nice PR touch. There is a reason beach houses are built on pilings are are about a story off the ground. Also, building your house on sand has been recognized as risky for a long time.


2 responses to “The politics of sea level rise-North Carolina outer banks

  1. Also, building an expensive beach house in an area prone to tropical storms, strong t-storms, and tornadoes is a Bad Idea. I’ve lived in NC since 1985, and there has always been this concern. It used to be over taxpayers funding the stabilization of the homes and properties on what are essentially shifting sandbars. Now they yammer on about “climate change”.

  2. Building on a barrier island would be like build a house in a large Sand Dial, eventually the sand is going to run out.

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