Sunday, June 16, 2013

Virginia GOP Blocks Meaningful Plans Against Sea Level Rise

November 12, 2009

Studies have shown that after New Orleans, the Norfolk, Virginia area - actually most of Hampton Roads - faces the highest threat from rising sea levels of anywhere in America.  Given Virginia's economic reliance on the Port of Virginia and the presence of the Navy installations in the region, one would think that the Virginia legislature would be taking strong efforts to deal with the growing problem of flooding and an even more worrisome future.  That, however, would require a recognition of global warming and the consequences that will flow from it.  Climate change is anathema to the Christofascists at The Family Foundation and similar ignorance worshiping elements which effectively control the Republican Party of Virginia (GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli says global warming/climate change doesn't exist).  The result is that the Virginia General Assembly which is controlled by the GOP has taken NO ACTION.  An article in the Virginia Pilot looks at this insane state of affairs.  Here are highlights:

The growing threat that rising sea levels pose to the Virginia coast has been well known for years, but one of the authors of a report on recurrent flooding says the state still isn't making any concerted efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Earlier this year, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science submitted a report to state lawmakers that they had requested on ways to address coastal flooding. While seas are rising globally, the problem is exacerbated in Virginia because the land along the coast is slowly sinking. In Hampton Roads and other coastal communities, flooding is commonplace during major storms and is expected to worsen over the next 20 to 50 years. The VIMS report anticipates a sea level rise in Virginia of roughly 1.5 feet during that time period.

Carl Hershner, director of VIMS' Center for Coastal Resources Management, told The Associated Press that while the report provided numerous examples of what other places around the world are doing to address the issue and recommendations for Virginia to start, he isn't aware of any them being taken up at the state level.

"As a commonwealth, Virginia hasn't made any determined, purposeful strides in trying to adapt to climate change impacts. And it's not that we are unaware of them, it's just that the state isn't focused on trying to respond to those issues right now," he said.

The absence of a state lead has left local governments to largely combat the issue on their own by adopting a patchwork of ordinances and flood-mitigation tactics. Virginia Beach is examining new ways to combat sea level rise and already requires new construction and major building expansions to be elevated one foot above base flood elevation to minimize property losses.

The VIMS report says 26 percent of Virginia Beach's land area could face flooding over the next 50 years, flooding 289 miles of roads.

In neighboring Norfolk, the same waterways that helped make the city the home of the world's largest naval base leave little outlet for floodwaters. Many residents routinely move their cars to higher ground when even a minor storm approaches because flooding is so rampant. That flooding also is becoming more routine. According to federal data, the number of hours the Hague area near downtown Norfolk has flooded has more than tripled in the past 70 years.

While the Virginia GOP and its foul masters continue to stick their heads in the sand, the problem is growing more severe.   It is far past time that science and modern knowledge trump the religious based ignorance that permeates today's Virginia GOP.

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