S.C. Statehouse Report
Aug. 22, 2004
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/04.0822.global.htm

Global warming is for real
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

AUG. 22, 2004 - When you actually see a chunk of ice the size of a car break off a glacier taller than a 10-story building, you start thinking there might be something to the talk about "global warming."

A few minutes later when you see it again, you know it's for real.

It's relatively easy to see the effects of global warming in Alaska. But in South Carolina, you have to pay attention a little more.

First, the state's temperatures really are changing. Over the last century, the average temperature in Columbia, for example, has increased 1.3 degrees, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Over the next century, South Carolina's temperatures could rise 1 degree to 5 degrees, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

A glacier in Prince William Sound earlier this month.

Next, the state is becoming wetter. Over the last century, precipitation has increased up to 20 percent in many parts of the state, the EPA says. In coming years, rains could increase 5 percent to 30 percent in spring, more in summer and fall, and less in winter, the NWF says.

Third, the sea is rising. Sea level in Charleston is up nine inches compared to the last century, according to the EPA. In the next century, it is likely to rise another 19 inches. The cost to replenish sand on beaches from a 20-inch rise by 2100 could approach $9 billion.

These changes have the possibility of dramatically changing South Carolina in our lifetime, according to Chris Brooks, deputy director of the state Office of Coastal Resource Management. Among the impacts:

  • Beach erosion, saltwater contamination of drinking water and more intense storms caused by warmer oceans;

  • Increased runoff of silt, pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural fields due to more rainfall;

  • Weakened maritime forests and the loss of important isolated wetlands;

  • Damaged habitat for species such as alligators, bald eagles, brown pelicans, sea turtles. In Georgia, for example, global warming is changing habitat so much that the state bird (the brown thrasher) soon may no longer be able to live in the state.

What may be most worrisome, Brooks says, is the impact global warming would have on the state's half-million acres of salt marshes. If people put artificial barriers along the coast and in streams and inlets, they will keep marshland from being able to shift, which could put the state's fisheries and aquatic habitats at risk.


McLEMORE'S WORLD: Old habits die hard

FEEDBACK: Good article on domestic violence

SCORECARD: Who's up and down



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"If that intertidal zone is not able to migrate naturally, then you'll lose the tidal marsh," Brooks said.

While global warming is a global problem, there are things South Carolina policymakers may consider to help lessen the impact. And if other states and countries followed suit, the cumulative impact might be enough to help thwart global warming:

  • Focus on industrial recruitment that stays away from smokestack industries.

  • Urge national leaders to develop meaningful national standards for air and water quality.

  • Have state agencies move away from creating harmful emissions, such as those made by coal-fired power plants.

  • Reinforce the state's coastal retreat policies to discourage development along immediate shorelines.

  • Keep barriers from being put along the coast, rivers and streams to allow tidal marshes to migrate naturally.

  • Invest in energy-saving equipment, renewable energy sources and more efficient fuel technologies.

Finally, state leaders should appoint a blue-ribbon panel to investigate these and other ideas to work on ways to thwart global warming to ensure that our quality of life doesn't deteriorate.

The sky isn't falling today in South Carolina. But global warming is happening here, just as the ice is melting in Alaska. State leaders need to move forward now to act, not wait to respond when it's too late.


8/22: Old habits die hard

This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:

8/16: Domestic violence is too prevalent in S.C.

To the editor:

I read your article "It's Time To Do Something About Domestic Violence" (Column, 8/15) in today's Beaufort Gazette - and I thank you for such a thoughtful article. In this same small paper, there is a brief mention of a 27 year old woman who was killed by someone she was dating for about a year.

As your article states, domestic violence is far too prevalent in South Carolina. All of your possibilities are good and need to be accomplished. October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month. I would like to see all media, churches, social service agencies, law enforcement and women's organizations work together to speak against domestic violence. I believe that churches, in particular, often keep their heads in the sand even when members of their own congregations are victims of domestic violence.

Holding offenders accountable is essential. It is amazing to me that people can ignore an evil that is so pervasive in the State of South Carolina. Thank you again for your thoughtful article!

-- Jean H. Barton, Port Royal, S.C.

8/17: Article presented startling facts

To the editor:

I am a new Sociology professor at USC-Sumter, and have conducted research and been engaged in service provision around domestic violence, previously in
Memphis, where I conducted a study on DV and reporting in Latino households (I speak fluent Spanish), a study for which I am now analyzing the data. ... I really enjoyed your DV editorial in yesterday's The Item. ... Startling facts that you presented. Thanks.

-- Frank M. Afflitto, Ph.D., Sumter, S.C.


The best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more. Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less for business subscribers. More: SC Clips.


Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various political events from the past week:

Thumbs up

S.C. colleges. Hats off to several S.C. colleges and universities -- Clemson, USC, Furman, Wofford, Winthrop, USC Upstate, College of Charleston, The Citadel -- that scored high on recent national collegiate rankings.

Richardson. We like Sen. Scott Richardson's idea of having red light cameras at dangerous intersections to help slow down traffic, reduce fatalities and promote responsible driving.

Thumbs down

Wilson. U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson needs to stop the blather that military bases at Beaufort are safe from base closure. People in Washington read this stuff.

Traffic deaths. The state needs to do something to reduce its high -- and increasing -- number of traffic fatalities.

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The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge.

Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."

In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get::

Hot issue -- an early peek at weekly commentary on something really big. Last year, we continually beat other news organizations in finding major trends in issues, from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.

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McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected cartoonist Bill McLemore.

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Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major political/policy events for the week.

Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for the House, Senate and state agencies.

Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find illuminating.

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