Virginia Lawmaker Says ‘Sea Level Rise’ Is A ‘Left Wing Term,’ Excises It From State Report On Coastal Flooding

Posted on

"Virginia Lawmaker Says ‘Sea Level Rise’ Is A ‘Left Wing Term,’ Excises It From State Report On Coastal Flooding"

Virginia’s legislature commissioned a $50,000 study to determine the impacts of climate change on the state’s shores. To greenlight the project, they omitted words like “climate change” and “sea level rise” from the study’s description itself. According to the House of Delegates sponsor of the study, these are “liberal code words,” even though they are noncontroversial in the climate science community.

Instead of using climate change, sea level rise, and global warming, the study uses terms like “coastal resiliency” and “recurrent flooding.” Republican State Delegate Chris Stolle, who steered the legislation, cut “sea level rise” from the draft. Stolle has also said the “jury’s still out” on humans’ impact on global warming:

State Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who insisted on changing the “sea level rise” study in the General Assembly to one on “recurrent flooding,” said he wants to get political speech out of the mix altogether.

He said “sea level rise” is a “left-wing term” that conjures up animosities on the right. So why bring it into the equation?

“What people care about is the floodwater coming through their door,” Stolle said. “Let’s focus on that. Let’s study that. So that’s what I wanted us to call it.”

There is a resistance to calling science what it is, even in the studies commissioned to investigate the impact of climate change. The reality is that coastal cities are spending millions to respond to rising sea levels, like Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk spends $6 million a year to elevate roads, improve drainage, and help homeowners raise their houses, according to BBC. Already, 5 percent to 10 percent of the city’s lowest-lying neighborhoods have heavy flooding. The world’s largest naval base, based in Norfolk, is spending hundreds of millions to replace piers to withstand rising water. Yet they manage to make no mention of climate change or sea level rise in their response strategy.

« »

81 Responses to Virginia Lawmaker Says ‘Sea Level Rise’ Is A ‘Left Wing Term,’ Excises It From State Report On Coastal Flooding

  1. facts lean left says:

    Further proof that republicans are suicidally stupid. Unfortunately, they’re trying to commit suicide for all of us.

    • maya says:

      and yet and yet and yet.. still so many Americans are willing to vote for these primitive a**holes who are so backward and ignorant they couldn’t win elections in any other civilized country… man, what has happened to America???

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        A lifetime of brainwashing, plus a determined, ruthless and evil ruling caste, possessed of fanatic class consciousness and solidarity and utter hatred and contempt for ‘the rabble’. If the proles ever awake from their stupour (which I very much doubt) they will simply be told that it is all ‘the communists’ fault.

    • maya says:

      and yet and yet and yet.. still so many Americans are willing to vote for these primitive a**holes who are so extreme and ignorant they couldn’t win elections in any other civilized country… man, what has happened to America???

    • Obama 2012 says:

      Republicans keep managing to amaze me with their ridiculous nonsense. I have to give them some credit for that.

    • Books says:

      I don’t understand why anyone would do this… I don’t think I can ever vote Republican again.

  2. David F. says:

    “What people care about is the floodwater coming through their door,” Stolle said. “Let’s focus on that. Let’s study that. So that’s what I wanted us to call it.”

    Unreal. So apparently Delegate Stolle doesn’t think people care about WHY those floodwaters are coming through their door?!? I’d like to know how you solve a problem if you don’t even acknowledge the source of the problem.

    • Lou Grinzo says:

      David, you silly, silly person. You’re assuming the prostiticians in question want to solve the problem, when they don’t. The want to ignore the problem except when they can get the maximum political benefit from making insane statements like calling SLR a left wing term.

      The first, and some would say only, goal of some prostiticians (with a very heavy over-representation on the right) is to get re-elected. Everything else is a mere diversion.

      • Curt Scott says:

        Warming the globe is how we’re going to get at that last great oil pocket under the north pole ice field. Gotta melt that ice, permanently, so that we can get rigs up there. It’s not ignorance – it’s greed. Because oil revenue equals reelection campaign contributions, it’s also corruption, of course,(or “free speech” if you’re a republican). Short terms gains are being exchanged for creating hell for our grandchildren. That elevates the whole thing to nothing less than evil, with money at the heart of it all. Is anyone surprised by this?

  3. Chris Winter says:

    “To greenlight the project, they omitted words like “climate change” and “sea level rise” from the study’s description itself.”

    If they had used those words, it might have caused someone to cuccinelli all over them.

  4. todd tanner says:

    Yes, Virginia, there is sea level rise.

  5. Virginia Lawmakers:”We’re going with the term ‘land level lowering’ — nothing to do with global warming.”

    • Dale Knipple says:

      Everyday we think that these stupid rednecks can’t say anything more stupid/hateful, but each time they prove us wrong.

      Love to see the mamas and papas (even if they’re not cousins).

    • jwald1 says:

      LOL! Love it!

    • MorinMoss says:

      “Land level lowering” – awesome. I’m stealing that one.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    For Rightwing Climate Cnuts, the truth, science, rationality and the inheritance of The Enlightenment are ‘Leftwing’. Sounds about right, to me. Conversely, greed, ignorance, stupidity, superstition, denial and mendacity are core Rightwing ‘moral values’.

    • Paul Magnus says:

      Yes.what wholeheartedly defines the right now, be it auz, us etc… Downright blind greed and selfish ignorance I am afraid. The Unplesant side of human nature.

  7. Carter says:

    I have no problem with them doing this as long as they take responsibility for their actions when the sea level rises and they cry out “disaster area” and beg for federal dollars. If you’re willing to make this statement now, accept the repercussions when they occur later.

  8. Joe Lang says:

    “We don’t want to use hot button words like ‘poor’, or ‘civil rights’. Instead, we’ll use words like ‘failure of financial imagination’ and ‘illusory non-Christian un-Biblical desires’.”

  9. Mugsy says:

    A few more “Left-wing” terms for the Congressman:

    “Gravity”.

    “Temperature”

    “Science”

    …and a toughy:

    “Homeschooled moron”.

  10. joyce says:

    Saw a super cartoon a couple of days ago, of a duck floating on the water. It was titled “Conclusive Proof of Stable Sea Levels”
    An arrow pointed to the waterline on the duck captioned “still only comes halfway up a duck”
    That’s the level of reasoning, unfortunately.

  11. John Treffeisen says:

    FWIW, 90% of observed “sea level rise” in Virginia is actually caused by coastal subsidence or basically the land getting lower as a long term consequence of the Ice Ages ending.

    Couldn’t be that the folks who wrote this understood that, and all you smug people so quick to be critical were ignorant of that, could it?

    [JR: FWIW – not!]

  12. John Hollenberg says:

    Just goes to prove that reality does have a liberal bias.

  13. J. Weigel says:

    Science is just NOT a matter of politics and this idiot (sorry to say he’s from my state) is just too DUMB to serve in a position of power or responsibility.

    • Rakesh Malik says:

      The worst thing isn’t that our government consists of a form of life that could be intellectually bested by your average cockroach. It’s that american’s CHOSE to put a form of life less intelligent than an average cockroach in that position.

  14. maya says:

    ignorance and backwardness trumps science and reality.. what else is new.. only in America..

  15. Doug Bostrom says:

    We’re all going to vote, right?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Not if Obama and his controllers have anything to do with it. Expect more Wisconsin style betrayals, starting with sabotage of the Rio Plus Twenty Conference.

      • Doug Bostrom says:

        What, Obama’s going to take your voter registration card away?

        As an exercise, imagine a world where we had -one- fewer GOP Senator and the House had a scant Democratic majority. I’m going out on a limb and will say that world would be marginally -better- than the world we’re actually in. Not perfect, but better.

        Personally I’m very leery of folks who spend effort in public places sapping energy from others. The world is full of dirty tricks.

        Given a choice between “do” and “don’t bother” the former is usually better than the latter.

      • mk says:

        “Mumblebrain” … how appropriate.

  16. ibwilliamsi says:

    If we call it “chocolate pudding” can we all be happy if it comes up our front step and into the house? How about “gravy”? Anything brown and murky would do.

  17. Taylor says:

    I wish ThinkProgress had fleshed this one out a bit more.

    Yes, it’s depressing that Delegate Stolle, along with (I’d guess) nearly every one of his Republican colleagues in Richmond, still thinks “the jury’s out” on global warming. But it’s only after reading the linked articles (one from the Virginian-Pilot, the other from the BBC) that we get the context for why he said “sea level rise” is a “left-wing term” and wanted it out of the bill’s language: so the bill could get passed under the radar of the state Tea Partiers, who go apoplectic when seeing the words “global” and “warming” juxtaposed and knee-jerk themselves into conspiracy theories.

    Stolle may very well be the type of guy who wouldn’t recognize science if a bar chart hit him in the forehead, but he also sounds a little shrewder than TP has made him out to be: he was a “co-patron” of the bill, Virginia’s gotten its study, and it’s gotten it in part because he wanted it to. In the context of the know-nothing Tea Party types (and some of his own colleagues), he sounds, at the very least, pragmatic.

    • joyce says:

      interesting. Thanks for the context. I’ve been guilty of such “pragmatic” actions at times as well–sometimes you have to be “dumb like a fox” to get things done…

    • Jeff says:

      Sad, but a helpful perspective nonetheless. Thanks, Taylor. I guess this is a microsample of John McCain’s life.

    • mark t says:

      I agree with Taylor. Check out Daniel Kahan’s recent article in Nature, or chapter 4 in Daniel Khaneman’s book ‘Thinking Slow, and Fast’. Framing matters, words matter. If actionable legislation can be passed that helps Virginians adapt to rising sea level by calling it ‘recurrent flooding’, that works for me. What we need most are appropriate actions. If we have to frame those actions to make them linguistically more palatable to legislators, such as the TP, that might otherwise block them, at least we are moving toward solutions and easing the roadblocks.

  18. Ken says:

    Another republican denying the facts, they are determined to destroy the country, on all fronts. Shameful and Ridiculous, the whole lot of them.

  19. dorlomin says:

    Intelligent coastal redesign?

  20. Wolfie Rankin says:

    I’m taking bets that once the worst does start happening, the right wing loonies will say it’s all our fault, or why didn’t we explain ourselves better rather than using all that jingo that we couldn’t understand?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Absolutely! The target audience, the Dunning-Krugerites are thick enough to fall for anything, so long as it feeds their deeply inculcated hatreds.

  21. Career Lefty says:

    Forgive my bluntness but : these people are f-ing idiots.

    And they appear to be “winning”.

    • wial says:

      No one ever guaranteed you would not be born into a dark age. History is full of them. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        What’s very annoying is to be alive just as the very worst amongst humanity drive us to extinction.

  22. bob h says:

    And I am sure they have their hands out to the Federal government for mitigation funds.

  23. Thom Jones says:

    I sure hope Delegate Stolle’s house has the coastal resiliency to avoid the recurrent flooding that is coming in lower Tidewater Virginia from Advanced Tidal Surges due to the disappearance of global ice packs.

  24. Scott says:

    Amusing. So very amusing!

    It is totally, 100% and absolutely irrelevant what this politicians believes. The insurance companies that cover property along the coast already know this is fact and have adjusted their insurance rates to accommodate those facts.

    Money talks, politician BS walks.

  25. Spike says:

    Funny how the right come over like a bunch of commissars when their own narrow commercial interests are threatened.

    • wial says:

      That’s what came to mind for me too. Stalinism. Erasing people from photographs and concocting their own “science”.

  26. Citizen13 says:

    As Colbert put it, “Reality is well known to have a liberal bias.”

    Conservatives: “Don’t bring up anything that might upset us, you divisive Liberals, you! Oh, by the way: anything that we don’t agree with upsets us.”

    It’s like trying to manage a government with a bunch of pampered 4 year olds…

  27. Chris says:

    Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

  28. It’s interesting that conservatives, who normally bemoan juries that take too long to convict people who are obviously guilty, have no problem saying things like the “‘jury’s still out’ on humans’ impact on global warming”…especially when the “jury” came in with a verdict about three decades ago…

  29. Dennis says:

    Stolle’s quotation of the phrase “Left-wing term” was quoted in the Virginian-Pilot article, not by the BBC. The BBC quoted the less blunt “the jury’s still out” language.

  30. Laurel says:

    Here’s another one for ya:

    “This lesson seems to have been lost on the members of North Carolinas legislature. They are getting ready to vote on a bill that would prohibit government agencies from preparing for the estimated three feet rise in coastal sea levels which a state-appointed science panel has predicted will occur before the end of the current century. In fact, this forecast may soon be stricken from the public record — because it takes into account the impact of global warming. And global warming isn’t happening, right?”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/north-carolina-legislature-sea-level-rising_b_1567213.html

  31. Ron Paul 2012 says:

    I’m more outraged at the amount of money we use on studies…..can we stop spending so much damn money…..It’s just getting worse and worse from each president elected. I know this is on the state level, but it doesn’t make it any better…..

    • Noah Biltanark says:

      Doesn’t libertarianism depend upon the availability of “perfect knowledge” in order to ensure contracts? How can a free man make a fair, informed and constitutional decision without any data?
      How does mandating abject ignorance foster libertarian goals, unless those goals are fraud and deceit through information imbalance?

  32. bear says:

    the good news … human caused climate change is practically unarguable. the bad news … the depths of human ignorance is almost unfathomable.

  33. Thomas says:

    Even though I find it absurd for Republican lawmakers in Virginia (and nationwide) to underestimate humanity’s impact on the global climate, from a scientific standpoint it does not necessarily matter what conceptual definition(s) they decide to use in order to measure various climatic phenomena. So what if they say “recurring flooding” instead of “sea level rise”? As long as their data points to a particular problem, they will be forced to address it. To be sure, scientists prefer using similar definitions in their reports (indeed, they get a kick out of marketing these cognitive constructs). But from a policy standpoint, it is not really that necessary to do so.

    However, the caveat is implicit in that their conscious decision to use different definitional terms in order to downplay our species’ impact on the environment can possibly result in disastrous public policy decisions. The fact that they vehemently oppose a probable cause to these climate maladies exposes their State (and nation) to more problems down the road.

    For humor’s sake, here is an example: if your lawnmower stopped working, it would be illogical to reject the hypothesis that maybe it had run out of gasoline. You would be foolish to disassemble the entire machine before checking whether or not the tank was full. Meanwhile, your grass continues to grow and your neighbors become irritated. Eventually, your homeowners association decides to fine you $1000.00. Meanwhile, you have spent more than $2,000.00 trying to fix your lawnmower and now you cannot afford the fine. You ask your neighbor’s for help, but they keep giving you the answer you do not want to hear, “check to see if it has gasoline”. So, you keep spending money on new lawnmowers without ever realizing the cause of the problem because you are too stubborn to unscrew the gas cap. Soon, the grass is eight feet tall and your homeowner’s association has decided to vacate you from the premises.

    What I am trying to say is that though the language of definitions does not necessarily matter, it is nonetheless imperative that public policy try to follow the simple outline of science, being:
    1) Ask a question.
    2) Do background research.
    3) Construct a hypothesis.
    4) Test with an experiment
    5) Analyze results and draw a conclusion
    6) If hypothesis is true, present results and contemplate a solution.
    7) If hypothesis is false, rethink your hypothesis and try again. But do not reject a possible hypothesis just because you are too stubborn, ideological, or your political party wil shun you. That is not ethical what so ever.

  34. Timothy says:

    For those doubting Global Warming, just review satellite pictures of the Polar Ice Caps in the North, to recent satellite pics and notice the huge difference.

    In the south, notice how many ice shelves, that were hundreds of years old, have broken off of Antarctica.

    How high will sea levels rise? Good question. Bad question is what caused the global warming – natural or man made – but deciding how high the oceans will rise are significant area of investigation which can’t be ignored – if you have beachfront property or live in low lying flood zones.

  35. Fred Stoss says:

    Another example of ostriches in the United States burying their heads in the sand, to further erode public trust and confidence in the science of climatology, oceanography, and engineering. We lament the rapid decline of performance by U.S. high school students in nearly every international measure of science and mathematics knowledge, to the point where the U.S. Department of Defense thinks this situation is a mater of national security. Yet, our government tolerates these policies of ignorance and idiocy to permeate to highest levels of our government.

  36. Michael Valentine says:

    Facts do indeed have a left wing bias because that’s the way facts are.

  37. Hermes says:

    What a Shyster. “Let’s don’t talk about the cause. That’s left-wing. Let’s just talk about the effect. That’s all people care about.”

    Seriously?

    My existential dilemma is clarified. Sartre was right. Hell is other people.

  38. wial says:

    I’ve seen this elsewhere lately in blog comments. The absurd idea climate science is “political”. Must have gone out in a recent republican talking points memo.

  39. Tami Kennedy says:

    Evidently went out for drinks with the friendly GOP neighbor in North Carolina proposing sea level rise is natural process predictable from past 100 years.

  40. Thomas says:

    Even though I find it absurd for Republican lawmakers in Virginia (and nationwide) to underestimate humanity’s impact on the global climate, from a scientific standpoint it does not necessarily matter what conceptual definition(s) they decide to use in order to measure various climatic phenomena. So what if they say “recurring flooding” instead of “sea level rise”? As long as their data reveal a particular problem, they will be forced to address it. To be sure, scientists prefer using similar definitions in their reports (indeed, they get a kick out of marketing these cognitive constructs). But from a policy standpoint, it is not really that necessary to do so.

    However, the caveat is implicit in that their conscious decision to use different definitional terms in order to downplay our species’ impact on the environment can possibly result in disastrous public policy decisions. The fact that they vehemently oppose a probable cause to these climate maladies exposes their State (and Nation) to more problems down the road.

    For humor’s sake, here is an example: if your lawnmower stopped working, it would be illogical to reject the hypothesis that maybe it had run out of gasoline. You would be foolish to disassemble the entire machine before checking whether or not the tank was full. Meanwhile, your grass continues to grow and your neighbors become irritated. Eventually, your homeowners association decides to fine you $1000.00. Meanwhile, you have spent more than $2,000.00 trying to fix your lawnmower and now you cannot afford the fine. You ask your neighbors for help, but they keep giving you the answer you do not want to hear, “check to see if it has gasoline”. So, you keep spending money on new lawnmowers without ever realizing the cause of the problem because you are too stubborn to unscrew the gas cap. Soon, the grass is eight feet tall and your homeowner’s association has decided to vacate you from the premises.

    What I am trying to say is that though the language of definitions does not necessarily matter, it is nonetheless imperative that public policy try to follow the simple outline of science, being:
    1) Ask a question.
    2) Do background research.
    3) Construct a hypothesis.
    4) Test with an experiment
    5) Analyze results and draw a conclusion
    6) If your hypothesis is true, present results and contemplate a solution.
    7) If your hypothesis is false, reformulate it and try again. But do not reject possible independent variables just because you are ideologically stubborn or are afraid that your Political Party will shun you. That is not ethical what so ever.

  41. Doni says:

    Nobody can ever accuse the Republicans of letting FACTS stand in their way of the truth!

  42. Doni Whitley says:

    Nobody can accuse most all of the Republicans of ever letting TRUTH stand in the way of their “facts!”
    Meanwhile, the American People are reaping the ‘rewards’ of their last election.
    Come on people, study the real facts and get out there and vote!

  43. Jay Dee Are says:

    There are sane people in Virginia who know what’s going on with global warming and sea-level rise. There just aren’t enough of them in the state legislature.

    It’s a sign of insanity when a political group thinks it can make decrees about the behavior of the physical world. There are precedents, e.g. Soviet geophysics dicated the continental drift was impossible because Marx had written that the continents are unchanging, which reminds me Inhofe’s recent book on the alleged hoax.

  44. Bob Doublin says:

    “He said “sea level rise” is a “left-wing term” that conjures up animosities on the right. So why bring it into the equation?

    “What people care about is the floodwater coming through their door,” Stolle said. “Let’s focus on that. Let’s study that. So that’s what I wanted us to call it.””

    Like I’ve mentioned,I’ve read Atlas Shrugged at least a dozen times.It seems to me like this little side-stepping the real issue maneuver is precisely what Ayn Rand criticised several times in the novel by putting this strategy in the mouth of characters she considered villains.Oh well,just another thing to go along with how much she as a life long atheist would despise the fundamentalist faith of these supporters (Ahhh,the little ironies of life,Ehhh Alissa??)

  45. Bob Greenberg says:

    Another case of Republicans trying to “HIDE THE TRUTH” in it’s clearest description, by replacing the proper terms with ambiguios phrases, to try and hide the REAL TRUTH!

  46. Bob C says:

    “Political Correctness” anyone. I thought the GOP hated PC?

  47. James Briggs says:

    The last statement of the article is patently false
    “The world’s largest naval base, based in Norfolk, is spending hundreds of millions to replace piers to withstand rising water. Yet they manage to make no mention of climate change or sea level rise in their response strategy.”
    You should read these excerpts:
    THE NAVY in it’s own paper titled:

    Navy Climate Change Road Map 21 may 2010an excerpt:
    A preponderance of global observational evidence shows the Arctic Ocean is losing sea ice, global temperatures are warming, sea level is rising, large landfast icesheets (Greenland and Antarctic) are losing ice mass, and precipitation patterns are changing. ref 1,2
    While there has been criticism on the details of the methods and results found in reports published by the IPCC and other entities, the Navy acknowledges that climate change is a national security challenge with strategic implications for the Navy.
    Climate change is affecting, and will continue to affect, U.S. military installations
    worldwide. Melting permafrost is degrading roads, foundations, and structures
    on DoD and USCG installations in Alaska. Droughts in the southeast and
    southwest U.S. are challenging water resource management. Sea level rise and
    storm surge will lead to an increased likelihood of inundation of coastal
    infrastructure, and may limit the availability of overseas bases.
    According to Global Warming / Climate Change deniers there is NO GLOBAL
    WARMING. They believe Currier & Ives and Norman Rockwell. 4 seasons the
    world in equilibrium.
    That is an illusion. This is by choice. The
    International Meteorological Organization voted in 1923 approx.to make the last
    ten years temperatures the ones to average. Then in 1953 becomes W.M.O.. Who then
    despite the fact oceans rose 1-2 inches a century for 7000 years and the rate of
    rising increased to a rate of 4-6 inches a century. And the average global
    temperature was up 1 deg.F from 1900=1950* chose 1950 as a baseline. Hiding all
    the warming from industrialization. It’s gone up 2 deg F since then.The
    following is from The Director of the Navy’s Task Force Climate
    Change.++ Navy Rear Adm. David W. Titley:”The observations have shown us
    that through the 20th century, sea level rose by an average of two millimeters
    per year, So that means over the course of the century, we had about 20
    centimeters, or roughly eight inches, of sea level rise. The sea level rise
    we’ve seen in the first 10 years of the new century is already 50 percent
    greater than the average sea level rise in the 20th century.”
    So I say ANYONE who denies Global Warming is UNAMERICAN!!!

    references:1. UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, The Copenhagen Diagnosis,
    2009:Updating the World on the Latest Climate Science (November 2009).2.
    United States Global Change Research Program, Global Climate Change Impacts
    inthe United States, Cambridge University Press (2009).http://www.navy.mil/navydata/d
    Popular Science Aug 1989 “Global Warming: Are we waking up 15 years too
    late?”**Fundamentals of Meteorology Second Edition Louis J. Batton ISBN
    0-13-341123-0+http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/201…
    http://www.navy.mil/Search/pri… Navy
    Official Discusses Climate Change Investment Strategy Story Number:
    NNS100621-086/21/2010By Bob Freeman, Office of the Oceanographer of the
    Navy
    I’m glad you read the whole piece. Find more here.

    http://davinci-concepts.blogspot.com/

    a comment by time traveler on NASA plans capsule to take humans into deep space 2 weeks ago

    “America
    the mediocre. This is what you get when you allocate 90% of your school
    budget to SPORTS and 10% to everything else. This doesn’t just produce
    fewer and fewer science and math literate high school graduates who
    might become scientists and engineers, it produces a public that simply
    DOESN’T GET scientific exploration, and consequently idiot politicians
    who represent them.

    Today, a full 40% of this country’s population is so scientifically
    ignorant that it rejects evolution – one of the most well established
    scientific principles – in favor of fairy tales from the bronze age.

    It’s sad to be seeing this nation’s days of glory fading in the rear view mirror.

    So I say to The Virginia & North Carolina Legislators: You are UNAMERICAN!!!

    • Joe Romm says:

      The Navy knows humans and changing the climate. I’m not sure if Norfolk’s strategy mentions it. Will have to check.