Shelving a report on climate change and its potential impact on South Carolina's natural resources makes no scientific or political sense for an agency whose purpose is to watch over those resources.
In explaining why the report by a team of scientists wasn't released for more than a year after it was completed, John Evans, the chairman of the state Department of Natural Resources board, said the report was "for information only" and didn't require action.
But that's exactly what the report's findings do require. The agency charged with overseeing our natural resources should have no higher priority than working to manage and protect those resources in the coming decades.
The report, completed in November 2011 and presented to the board in July 2012, was labeled as a draft, but a foreword from the agency's former director, John Frampton, stated it was ready for public review. That didn't happen until The (Columbia) State newspaper got a copy and reported on its contents late last month.
Some say the report was held back because it includes human activity as a contributor to global warming. The 102-page report drew on studies from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In an email to the newspaper, Evans wrote: "The board only wanted to make certain that the effort was not to produce an advocacy document that pointed to the reasons for climate change, which remain under scientific debate."
DNR officials would do better to worry less about the political ramifications of climate change and more about its impacts in the natural world.
The report's findings on global warming's impact in South Carolina include:
For those of us who live on the coast and who rely on tourism and real estate industries driven by our unique resources and natural beauty, preparing for what's ahead and limiting negative impacts where we can is critical.
A report paid for by the public and prepared by public employees on an important public policy debate should have been front and center many months ago.