Don’t politicize the issue of flooding

April 07 19:37 2019 Print This Article

Governor Henry McMaster signed an executive order in December 2018 to establish the South Carolina Floodwater Commission. McMaster wrote, “The Commission will work to provide solution-based discussions and to identify and implement short-term and long-term recommendations to alleviate and mitigate flood impacts to this state.” The (Charleston) Post and Courier published a hit piece on Floodwater Commission Chair Tom Mullikin Sunday because he opposes taxing American carbon dioxide emissions. The purpose of the commission is coming up with solutions for the state’s flooding problems, not to politicize the issue.

The Post and Courier runs endless editorials and news stories which attribute the Lowcountry’s flooding problems to carbon dioxide emissions. The newspaper states that carbon dioxide emissions are causing sea levels to rise and that it is the root cause of flooding. It never considers the impact of filling in wetlands and lax real estate development standards on local flooding.

Sea level rise has been slow and steady since the 1880s, averaging 3.2 millimeters per year (one foot per 100 years), according to satellite data. Tidal gage data shows sea level rise proceeding at half of that rate. The Post and Courier attributes sea level rise to human use of “fossil fuels” – coal, oil and natural gas. The South Carolina coastline once went as far inland as Columbia before humans populated the earth. Even within recorded history, the Vikings farmed in Greenland during the Medieval Warming Period form 900-1400 AD before being forced out by glaciers.

Carbon dioxide is a clear, naturally occurring gas which does nothing to harm human or animal health. It only comprises 0.04% of the atmosphere, and human “fossil fuel” consumption contributes little of that tiny concentration. The notion that taxing American usage of oil, coal and natural gas will impact the sea level is ridiculous. Increased carbon dioxide concentration actually has the beneficial effect of increasing plant growth and crop yield.

When it comes to flooding, let our state Floodwater Commission analyze practical solutions. We should stop filling in wetlands, a natural filter that absorbs stormwater runoff. We should have stricter development standards, limiting the amount of impervious surfaces which cause stormwater to negatively impact surrounding properties. First and foremost, let’s not demonize commission members on political grounds. We want citizens to develop realistic flooding solutions without the threat of personal attacks.