In a legislative dust-up earlier this year, according to reporter Scott Harper, writing for The Virginian-Pilot, Stolle told Virginia State Senator Ralph Northam (D) that the terms “climate change” and “sea-level rise” are “liberal code words” that must be excised from a study request, or risk having that request shelved.
Shockingly enough: Even though Republicans control the state’s general assembly and hold the tie-breaking vote in the Virginia Senate, they voted to approve $138,000 to fund the study after Northam allowed the term “sea-level rise” to be swapped out for “recurrent flooding.”
While prior administrations in Virginia, namely that of Gov. Tim Kaine (D), were quite proactive about studying climate change, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has said in public that he does not believe human activity is influencing the earth’s climate. His administration also shuttered Gov. Kaine’s climate change commission, which had produced numerous reports on the threats posed to the state by sea-level rise and warmer temperatures.
Ever since then, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has been pushed by the legislature to stop using the scientific terms “climate change” or “sea-level rise,” swapping them for “coastal resilience,” Laura McKay, director of coastal zone management programs, told the Pilot.
NC is not the only state that would like to legislate away the facts of climate change. Virginia would outlaw the very use of the words. Silly legislation like this only highlight the fact that some conservatives are ideologically rigid and obtuse. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. If coastal states do not come to terms with the reality of rising sea levels, whether man-made or not, billions of dollars’ worth of property and businesses will be destroyed and millions of people will lose their homes and livelihoods. It’s time to stop debating this issue and pretending that climate change doesn’t exist. Even if we continue to argue about whose “fault” it is, we should at least be planning for the eventuality that our coastlines will be changing in the very near future.