By SAMMY FRETWELL — sfretwell@thestate.com

A team of state scientists has outlined serious concerns about the damage South Carolina will suffer from climate change – threats that include invading eels, dying salt marshes, flooded homes and increased diseases in the state’s wildlife.

But few people have seen the team’s study. The findings are outlined in a report on global warming that has been kept secret by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for more than a year because agency officials say their “priorities have changed.”

DNR board members never put the study out for public review as planned. The State newspaper recently obtained a copy.

Authors of the November 2011 draft said global warming is a reality and the DNR should take a lead role in educating the public about climate change while also increasing scientific research.

The study addresses the politically charged issue of global warming in one of the nation’s most conservative states. One scientist involved in the study said the group that wrote the report realized global warming is more than a scientific issue to some people.

“There were concerns about the political nature of it,” said Barry Beasley, a former DNR staff member who was involved in initial work on the report.

The DNR’s draft study says that, with temperatures in the South projected to rise up to 9 degrees over the next 70 years, the Palmetto State should prepare for increases in wildlife disease, loss of prime duck hunting habitat and the potential invasion of non-native species such as piranha and Asian swamp eels. Many such exotic species have taken hold in Florida, but as temperatures rise, could move into South Carolina, the report said.

Read full article here.

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