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"Sea-Level Rise" and Other Left-Wing Terms - Sierra Daily
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Sierra Daily

Jun 11, 2012

"Sea-Level Rise" and Other Left-Wing Terms

MonkeyObjective reality continues to prove controversial in the Mid-Atlantic region. Last month, North Carolina made waves by attempting to outlaw sea-level rise. Now Virginia has decided that the very term "sea-level rise" is a "left-wing term" that should be replaced by the anodyne "recurrent flooding."

The linguistic kerfuffle arose when state lawmakers attempted to appropriate $138,000 for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to lead a study on the danger posed by acombination of sea-level rise and land subsidance. The combination of these factors makes low-lying areas of Virginia second only to New Orleans regarding risk from rising seas.

But the Virginia Tea Party objects to the term "sea-level rise," which State Senator Chris Stolle branded a "left-wing term." According to PilotOnline.com, Stolle told bill sponsor State Senator Ralph Northam that unless the term were changed, the bill would end up in the "circular file."

The semantics dance harkens to the days when "global warming" was commonly uttered. But after conservatives criticized and ridiculed Al Gore and others, "climate change" became the kinder, gentler way to communicate the same thing.

Now it appears that "climate change" and "sea level rise" are being phased out, in Virginia at least, amid political pressure from the far right. Emerging labels include "increased flooding risk," "coastal resiliency" and, of course, "recurrent flooding."

What's interesting here is that the Tea Party legislators are not opposed to studying sea-level rise--which, after all, threatens the beachfront property of Democrats and Republicans alike--they just don't want to be complicit in anything approaching the acknowledgment of climate change. Let's hope Tea Party lexicographers are at work on an acceptable substitute for "stop burning fossil fuels."

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PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.

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