VA Climate Change Report Left Out Terms Like "Climate Change" for Fear of GOP Backlash
Earlier this year the state of Virginia paid $50,000 for a study on the potential effects of climate change and sea level rise on the state's coastline.
Only one problem: The report's authors weren't allowed to use terms like "climate change" and "sea level rise" because state lawmakers feared a backlash from the state's Republicans and Tea Partiers.
[Lawmakers] discovered that they could not use the phrases "sea level rise" or "climate change" in requesting the study, in part because of objections from Republican colleagues and also for fear of stirring up conservative activists, some of whom believe such terms are liberal code words.
On its website, for example, the Virginia tea party described the proposed "sea level rise" study this way: "More wasted tax dollars for more ridiculous studies designed to separate us from our money and control all land and water use."
Liberal code words, eh? What about "recurrent flooding," the phrase used in the report in place of "sea level rise"? That seems like more of a code word to me. Regardless, this whole semantic debate is just embarrassing. But the good news is that the scientists who study this stuff aren't letting dumb partisan bickering get them down; they're focused on getting the facts out there in whatever way is necessary.
"These studies need to be done if we're going to logically tackle these problems that scientific data unequivocally proves are happening," said Larry Atkinson, an oceanographer at Old Dominion University who is overseeing a climate change initiative that focuses on rising sea levels.
"So, whatever we have to call it, I've got no problem with that," he added. "What's the alternative? Do nothing?"