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August 27, 2014, 6:57 am

GOP’s head in the sand as ocean rises

Did you hear the joke about how Republicans in North Carolina want to ban scientific discussion about the rising ocean levels?  Well, I hate to break it to you, but it is no joke. A law is making its way through North Carolina legislature — advanced by the Republicans, of course — to limit all calculations on rising sea levels to those determined by the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission.  Further, the calculations have to be based on historic trends.  In other words, the Commission is only to look to the past and not factor in what is really happening.

If anyone has any question as to what a Republican takeover of the national government would look like, watch our friendly North Carolina GOP in action.  They do not like the fact that the ocean is rising so, presto, let’s pretend that it is not happening.  Let’s not scare vacationers who want to visit and perhaps purchase property on the Outer Banks.  Let’s leave them all in blissful ignorance while the oceans rise eventually turning those beaches into seabed unless something dramatic is done soon.

But then, the Republicans do not want to do anything about the climate catastrophe because, after all, they assert that the catastrophe is not happening.  And how better to demonstrate that it is not happening than to not look at the actual data?

The North Carolina climate denial would be comedic if it were not so serious. Whether the denial is based upon an absurd attempt to protect property values or a bury-your-head-in-the-sand approach does not really matter.  Let’s also leave aside some of the possible First Amendment issues contained here. The bottom line is that today’s Republican Party is, quite literally, attempting to rewrite reality.

We are living through an environmental crisis, North Carolina GOP’s opposition notwithstanding. We are witnessing the disappearance of the polar ice caps and the extinction of species. There is a dramatic crisis afflicting bats with millions dying off, and there is the equally ominous collapse of bee colonies.  To pretend that this is not happening is the equivalent of a child making noises so that they do not hear things that they wish to ignore.

Yet it is not just denial.  There is a struggle under way, and that is precisely what makes the politics of the Republican Party so dangerous.  Environmental collapse is not inevitable since there are steps that can be taken, but they can only be taken when we take the blinders off and face reality.

So, with all due respect to the people of the great state of North Carolina, it is not only time to wake up and smell the scent of the sea closing in on your lovely homes on the Outer Banks, eventually making Raleigh a beach front … it is also time to laugh out of office the dimwits who believe that saying it ain’t so is enough to make it not happen.


Bill Fletcher Jr. is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and the co-author of “Solidarity Divided.” He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .