In America there are two radically different approaches to climate change. One camp places its trust in science. The other trusts its future to God.
Der Spiegel takes an interesting look at two communities affected by sea level rise, the City of New York and, 425-miles to the south, New Bern, North Carolina.
When Veronica White and Tom Thompson stand on the coastline of their respective cities, 680 kilometers (423 miles) apart, they gaze out at the same ocean, but see different things.
White, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, believes "we have to prepare the entire coastline for disasters, including storms and rising floodwaters." Thompson, a former city planner in New Bern, North Carolina -- an eight-hour drive to the south -- argues the opposite. "All this panic about the climate always amazes me, but people like to believe horror stories," he says.
According to the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission (CRC), that state, like New York, will also see warmer temperatures by the end of the century, as well as a sea-level rise of more than one meter. But now the state government in North Carolina has muzzled the CRC with a new law that requires coastal communities to ignore its prognoses. The legislation states that the sea level off the North Carolina coast will not rise more quickly than it has in the last 100 years.
In Thompson's worldview, only socialists and cowards prepare for the worst. Although North Carolina had a Democratic governor until the beginning of the year, and a majority voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, it remains a state that defends its lax gun laws, closes abortion clinics and where many people flatly refuse to believe in the existence of climate change.
And so North Carolina continues to plod along, blithely ignoring the warnings of the scientific community. When the law was passed in July 2012, then Governor Bev Perdue merely warned: "North Carolina should not ignore science when making public policy decisions." She was referring to climate change. Nevertheless, she refused to veto the law, which dictates to the sea how high it is permitted to rise off the coast of North Carolina. Perdue did point out that the issue would be revisited in four years.
New York deputy mayor Caswell Holloway deserves the last word. "It's irresponsible for a government to have all this information and still do nothing."