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Suppressed South Carolina Climate Change Report Warns of Big Impacts

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"Suppressed South Carolina Climate Change Report Warns of Big Impacts"

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By Shiva Polefka

South Carolina news outlet TheState.com reported on Sunday that an official, comprehensive assessment of dramatic climate change impacts looming large in South Carolina’s future was buried and barred from release, apparently due to political pressure.

According to TheState.com, the report, completed by a working group of 18 senior state scientists under the auspices of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, found that the Palmetto State faces an average temperature rise of as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 70 years. Along with the heat would come increases in wildlife disease, loss of habitat for wild game, degradation of the state’s valuable recreational and commercial fisheries, increases in “dead zones” off the state’s coast, and salt water intrusion into coastal rivers and freshwater aquifers.

The report also issued a dramatic warning: As South Carolina’s climate warms, it could face in-migration of harmful invasive species from Florida, including piranha and Asian swamp eels.

Even more alarming than piranhas and eels, however, is the possibility that South Carolina’s conservative state government may have suppressed the report — intended for public education and planning purposes — for political reasons.

Despite detailing major risks to vital state industries and natural resources, the document was never released after its completion in 2011. TheState.com reports that it recently “obtained” a copy but that it otherwise remains unavailable to the public. While the previous head of DNR, John Frampton, reportedly wanted to release the document for public review, he retired suddenly before the release occurred, after what he claimed was pressure to resign from an administrative appointee of Governor Nikki Haley.

According to TheState.com, DNR’s new director says the agency’s “priorities have changed,” to matters including expansion of the ports of Savannah and Charleston, and a new gold mine.

Unfortunately, the developments in South Carolina resemble the woeful political meddling in strategic planning for climate change of its northern neighbor. In 2010, a study from the State of North Carolina’s Panel on Coastal Hazards used sea level rise projections of approximately one meter by 2100 — in line with the National Academy of Science and other coastal states including Maine, Florida and California — to estimate that the state should prepare for inundation and increased flood risk for more than 2,000 square miles of coastal lands. In response, North Carolina’s legislature passed a bill in 2012 mandating that coastal counties ignore the best available science, and instead follow a formula using “historical data” that projects sea level rise of no more than 8-12 inches by 2100.

Unfortunately, there has been no mention of whether South Carolina’s DNR is integrating the two-foot sea level rise reportedly predicted in its 2011 climate change report into the state’s new port expansion plans.

Update

TheState.com has posted the original DNR climate change report to its website and published additional quotes from Frampton in a follow-up article. “From a wildlife and natural resources standpoint, climate change is definitely going to have an impact,” it quotes Frampton as saying. “I would liked to have seen the DNR be a leader.”

Shiva Polefka is a research associate in the Ocean Program at the Center for American Progress. Tiffany Germain, ThinkProgress War Room Senior Climate/Energy Researcher, contributed research.

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9 Responses to Suppressed South Carolina Climate Change Report Warns of Big Impacts

  1. No surprise that the politicians suppressed this report. They don’t want shore property they own to decrease in value until they’ve sold it at a profit to some sucker who doesn’t understand what is going to happen.

  2. wili says:

    “rise of as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 70 years

    So 5 degrees C by about 2080!

    It was only a couple of years ago that MIT and the Royal Philosophical Society were putting out report considering the probability and consequences of a 4 C rise by the end of the century. But lately we have been getting higher and higher temperatures coming sooner and sooner, not only from the academics, but from groups like the International Energy Agency and PriceWaterhouseCooper and now state agency.

    Does anyone know what their main sources were for the estimates in this study?

    • Sara says:

      The 4 degrees is for the average over the whole planet. Parts of the US will have higher increases. Just as the poles are expected to increase more than the equator. I don’t what the expected increase is for SC.

    • Steve L. says:

      Actually, TBH, you’re rather incorrect about temperature rises coming “sooner and sooner”. The latest IPCC report says that the most likely worst-case scenario temperature rise is going to be about 4-4.25*C or so by 2100. Not exactly pleasant(kind of an understatement there), but it’s not Armageddon, either(not by itself, anyhow). And there’s an increasing amount of evidence that climate sensitivity may be(and in fact, probably IS) lower than initially feared, as well:

      http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/a-closer-look-at-moderating-views-of-climate-sensitivity/

    • Superman1 says:

      Don’t know the source, but also don’t know of any model that includes the positive feedback mechanisms. No way we’ll get anywhere near 5 C without initiating new mechanisms and accelerating existing ones. The Siberian caves article today shows the releases we can expect with only one of the mechanisms (permafrost thawing), and that’s about an extra 1 C right there. My immediate concern is the discovery of shallow clathrates in the Arctic. If they go, they could set of multiple positive feedback mechanisms.

  3. Ozonator says:

    Carolinians should evacuate the coast if the lord of dance comes a callin’.

    The gargle of deniers never even Fungshui their claim of a Gore-effect. It appears it costs them seminars to launder EssoKoch money to deny the AGW catastrophe du jour. For example, in Newcastle, “’extreme weather events’ cannot be blamed on climate change … He told the 50 people gathered” (“Monckton urges dancing over global warming”; abc.net.au, 2/27/13). It is unknown if kangaroos and the unborn were counted as people or if a free lunch was given. Cutting off iron oar to China, “Rusty a Category Four brute with 230km/h winds, massive rain” (BY: TIM CLARKE From: AAP; theaustralian.com.au, 2/27/13). Rusty was born during 2/10 – 16/13. “GBRWE 2/10 – 16/13 ‘regular’ for global warming predictions: sports, rainfall, tornadic, hurricane, and stellar ecosystems with tectonic quantities … by Robert Rhodes, The “Ozonator” … B1). Weeks’ Reporting Period of GBRWE 2/10 – 16/13.  This week is going to hurt civilization a lot.   The Ozonator’s global warming (AGW) pendulum swings back to … swarms of hurricanes, swarms or big earthquakes, calving of icebergs and catastrophic loss of glaciers, a few points of torrential rain and flooding, and other violent weathers.  … FARMER* rainfall/snow to hit in any one earthly place will be 4” to ~4’+ of rain/snow or an unholy mix (extremes of all rain or all snow).  Using the ALDLHEM … With other mighty winds, America (both coasts and South America) faces 1 – 7+ (Category 3+) “hurricane” ecosystems (Officially ended for North America until late spring 2013) and Greater WPI (GWPI – Africa to west of Hawaii) faces 2 – 7+ (Category 4+) typhoons (hurricane ecosystems) within 2 weeks (~2/23/2013). … from American extremists’ holy environmental racism from global warming, the still Brain-dead Ronaldus Magnus Model of Hatred and Greed & T-bags  - tornadoes, blizzards, torrential rain, and other forms of lightning or something uglier will develop in titanic swathes within 2 weeks – a). Earth: Iquitos – Lima – Easter Island – Dunedin, General Santos – Port Moresby – Cairns – Brisbane, Tromelin Island – Dar es Salaam – Kindu – Douala, and Istanbul – Budapest – Paris – Dublin; and b). other planet(s)/chunk(s): Jupiter and Saturn.”

  4. John Hartz says:

    Today(Feb 27), The State published a follow-up article, “Ex-wildlife chief warns of climate change in SC.” It contains the suppressed draft report.

    http://www.thestate.com/2013/02/26/2650685/ex-wildlife-chief-warns-of-climate.html#storylink=cpy

  5. Jon says:

    Ignorance, politics and the damage done.