Leading from the Left

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Sobering Look

It was a sobering day in room 643 of the Legislative Office Building.

It was there that I spent 5 hours at a meeting of the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change. The focus of today's meeting largely was on the effects of climate change on NC's fragile Outer Banks. What effects will a sea level rise have on storm surges? On erosion? How much personal property will be wiped out? What will the financial loss be to individuals and insurance companies?

But far more important than the financial loss is the loss of wild life habitat and fisheries. North Carolina sits at the meeting point of the colder waters of the North Atlantic and the temperate waters of the mid-Atlantic. Consequently, we have several unique, word-class eco-systems that serve as mating grounds for fish from the North and fish from the South. And our low-land marshes abutting the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds play an excrutiatingly important role in the lives of bird species from all over North America.

As sea level continue to rise, the Outer Banks will be breached. New inlets will be cut during storm surges, changing the salt-to-fresh-water ratio on both sounds. This change alone will alter these eco-systems. If sea level rises enough to wipe out the Outer Banks, as is predicted by several models, the effects will devastate any number of fish and bird species.

The facts and figures today were pretty stunning. Presenter after presenter shared with the Commission scenarios of what is likely to occur. Our Outer Banks are unique and, in part, define North Carolina. We can't afford to lose them. Nor can the world afford to lose the important waters of the Albermarle and Pamlico Sounds.

In order to avoid these scenarios coming to pass, North Carolina needs to take steps now. Here in Orange County, I indeed to work with my fellow County Commissioners to do our part to reduce emissions of Green House gases.

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