Environmental Policy A Step Behind

The old adage of “locking the gates after the horse is stolen” is one that could not be more applicable than when discussing Environmental Policy. Steve Wall, Project Director of the Environmental Resource Program at UNC, sees Environmental Policy as extremely “reactionary,” especially in North Carolina.

Here’s the issue with this when we’re dealing with climate change: there’s not always a lot to react to. Yes, increased storm abundance and severity is extremely likely, but other than that the effects of climate change are slow and steady and soon they will be too late to fix.

Sea-level rise in particular is one of these effects. And as a result, our coastal residences will be dealing with a lot of property damages.

Sea-level rise has led to an increased issue with “nuisance flooding,” NOAA reports.  But for many state legislatures, this isn’t enough to call for proper mitigation and policy.

In fact, North Carolina has been publicly ridiculed for how they handle sea-level rise. Specifically, its the state’s claim that one can not consider scenarios of accelerating sea-level rise as a result to climate change. States like North Carolina that disregard climate science have met environmentalists in the middle, and address sea level rise as an issue in itself apart from climate change.

While this may be effective, I think it is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. You can not treat climate change as a reactionary issue. In order to properly mitigate, the gate has to be locked before the horse is stolen. In this case, not only do we need to build resilience before residents are swept away in property loss (literally), but we need to find solutions that minimize the effects of climate change. Whether these solutions are finding effective means to limit our energy consumption or finding an alternative, renewable fuel source, these are the solutions that will protect our futures.

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