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Del. Ken Plum: Keeping Our Heads Above Water

by Del. Ken Plum — July 27, 2017 at 10:15 am 43 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Any report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is met with skepticism in some quarters, because these were the same people whose findings found that climate is changing and that human behavior is one of the causes.

The so-called “climate change deniers” continue to insist, regardless of the scientific evidence to the contrary, that humans are not to blame if there is any change in the climate. We can deny the latest report of the UCS, “When Rising Seas Hit Home,” at our own peril, especially in Virginia.

The scientists found that “important consequences of climate change are more subtle and slower moving than disasters. One such consequence is sea level rise. Unlike the catastrophic flooding that can accompany hurricanes, sea level rise impacts can take time to manifest. The final result, late this century and beyond, may be neighborhoods underwater.”

In a state like Virginia, with a major region named “Tidewater,” the impact can be especially great. UCS has identified three Virginia communities that will face chronic inundation by 2035, and 21 more by 2100. In the highest level scenario considered by the scientists, 38 communities would be exposed to chronic inundation by the end of the century. Visit the website to see a list of communities that will be hardest hit. Of little surprise is the finding that in the highest scenario, by 2080, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton and the Naval Air Station would have up to a quarter of their land chronically flooded.

These findings should come as no surprise to Virginians. In 2015, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) completed a study on this issue at the request of the General Assembly. Its report, “Recurrent Flooding Study for Tidewater Virginia,” found that “recurrent flooding already impacts all localities in Virginia’s coastal zone and is predicted to worsen over reasonable planning horizons of 20 to 50 years due to sea level rise, land subsidence, and other factors.” The scientists wisely did not use the term “climate change,” which continues to be politically charged among some of Virginia’s political leaders.

Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded a grant to VIMS that, along with its match, will total $1.25 million to support “nature-based infrastructure” to help coastal Virginia counter and recover from flood events. Nature-based infrastructure includes tidal wetlands and living shorelines that can help to blunt and even absorb the effects of rising seas and recurrent flooding.

These efforts are important, but the UCS found even bolder policy changes and enhanced coordination among all levels of government must happen to protect our coastal areas. UCS concluded its report, “And even as the Trump administration seeks to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, we must work at state and local levels and with other nations to cut global warming emissions aggressively in order to help slow the pace of sea level rise.” Maybe then we can keep our heads above water!

  • 40yearsinreston

    Ken is under water

  • LOL

    If only there was something we could do to prevent flooding… like some kind of wall, or something… perhaps someday we will master this advanced technology.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_control_in_the_Netherlands

    • Mike M

      The Donald will build that wall. And the Atlantic Ocean is gonna pay for it! 😉

      • Ostia Antica

        You forgot Atlantis!

  • LOL

    “Union of Concerned Scientists” pursues partisan politics, unashamedly using “science” as nothing more than a phony badge of credibility. No surprise that Ken cites them.

    http://www.insidesources.com/union-of-concerned-scientists-hub-of-rational-inquiry-or-political-activism/

  • Wisconsin

    Lets not go around showboating this environmental disaster! Equipment upgrades are not sustainable, lets stick to what we know and what we know is wealth and how to manage it.

    • The Constitutionalist

      If there’s one thing our country isn’t good at, it’s managing wealth.

      • Alt Right D&G

        To the contrary! You sound like a whiny alt right, black crystal ball needs a polishing.

        • The Constitutionalist

          What is to the contrary? Are you going to provide anything to the discussion or just continue to wallow in your socialist sorrow?

  • Headless Ned Stark

    I will tell you who is under water… Yara and the Sand Snakes. They were brutalized by Euron Greyjoy’s Iron Fleet.

    Additionally it was nice to see that Hotpie is doing well for himself…. What is bread my never Pie!

    • Mike M

      You win. I surrender.

  • The Constitutionalist

    No one is denying climate change. We’re all in agreement that the climate is changing Ken, we just don’t agree on the cause. If any of this were really about stopping climate change, we would be doing something about the sheer amount of methane being produced and vented to the atmosphere by our cattle farms.

    Oh wait, no, those are facts and we don’t like those.

    Let’s also not ever mention how almost all of our data pre 1950 or so is just made up. Let’s also not mention all the previous ice ages and global cooling events that we can prove happened before man. Or all the times when we have drilled into the arctic ice and found that the CO2 levels used to be higher than they are today.

    Nah, because it isn’t about any of that. It’s a partisan issue created to divide people and put money into people’s pockets. Nothing else.

    That’s why you’re so angry Ken, isn’t it? It’s the same reason you had to take a day of mourning when we elected Donald J. Trump as our President.

    It’s because people are starting to catch a whiff of that stench in the air, it’s all your bullshit.

    • Willie Reston

      RN, why did my response get banned for using the word “bull—-” when the original comment has the same word right there at the end?

      • Reston Now

        I’m not sure. It was automatically flagged. I pushed it through but I will be adding that word to the filter now. If we can have conversations without finding the need to curse, that would be nice.

  • Mike M

    Ken, Ken, Ken. What are we gonna do with you Ken?

    All the righteous raiders who want to throw other people’s money at this, please google, King Canute. The King tried to convince his lackeys that the throne does NOT have power over all things. To demonstrate this he asked to be accompanied to the shore whereupon he commanded the tide to halt. It did not. The lesson is useful for the righteous ones in that it demonstrates that we can surely bankrupt ourselves (as we are doing). But we cannot curtail Mother Nature, nor human nature for that matter my entitlement generating righteous raiders. If we don’t start living within our means we will all be inundated and impoverished. THAT is within our power. Capisce?

    • LOL

      “We must gain complete control over the planetary climate in less than three years or we are doomed!”

      “Um, OK, guess we’re doomed then.”

      “But you should give us total control over the economy anyway, and criminalize ‘denial”.”

      “Um, say what now?”

    • Willie Reston

      Typical conservative response. When faced with a tough problem, crumple up like wet tissue paper and just say the problem is too big to solve, or it’s not a problem at all, and then do nothing to fix it. See also: health care and civil rights.

      • Mike M

        Reston Willie! Welcome. Civil rights are a challenge, but the issue has been racialized since the 1960s. Too bad. Climate change is bigger than government. Health care is bigger than government. By the way, the progress made on Civil Rights since the 60s was not due to government. Government may have exacerbated or mitigated some of the progress. There are solutions. Just not government. Can you wrap your brain around that concept? There is NO GOVERNMENT solution to climate change. The Paris Accord would have done nothing but harm the US economy.

        • Willie Reston

          Thank you for proving my point. You honestly believe that the federal government has no ability — none whatsoever — to help solve macro issues. No ability to bring industries and governments together to tackle issues, or draft creative legislation to address these things, or (gasp!) use some of the vast financial resources at its disposal.

          Given its lack of creativity, optimism, and ambition, its a wonder anybody still votes for that sad old party.

          • Mike M

            They can even solve their own debt crisis. Yet what’s the answer to “macro problems” and many non-problems? More debt. And does their borrowing and spending solve the problem? They can’t even agree on a budget. They can’t get out of Afghanistan.

            Since you must be reading the braille version of what I wrote I’ll restate that healthcare and climate change are bigger than the government. Cannot you not see that your expectations fly in the face of extensive experience? You are King Canute’s lackey, and still you don’t get it.

          • LOL

            Uh huh. Given the government track record of “solving big problems” since 1945, pardon me if I don’t have a lot of confidence in its ability to FIX THE PLANET (assuming the planet is indeed broken). And pardon me for wondering why people vote for the sad party of big government failure. Oh wait, it’s not because that party “solves big problems” it is because that party promises to steal other people’s money and give it to you.

            Those “vast financial resources”? We’re going to put fixing the planet on the credit card, too? Methinks the charges will be declined long before the planet is fixed.

          • Willie Reston

            It’s not about fixing the planet. It’s about fixing our habits before we make the planet uninhabitable for ourselves. And it can be done without racking up a ton of federal debt. My argument is that the federal gov can and should act as a catalyst in this important matter by creating ways to properly price the true cost of fossil fuels, provide incentives (not handouts) for clean energy, etc.

          • The Constitutionalist

            “My argument is that the federal gov can and should act as a catalyst in this important matter by creating ways to properly price the true cost of fossil fuels”

            Yep, one more thing the government has a great track record of doing.

          • Willie Reston

            I think you need to go back to fourth grade History class because there are some pretty big problems our government has solved since 1945:
            -Helped rebuild Europe and Japan
            -Berlin Airlift
            -Medicare
            -Medicaid
            -Put men on the moon less than a decade after program launch
            -Civil Rights Act
            -Won the Cold War
            -No major terror attacks in the US since 9/11

            You know, contrary to what your Republican idols tell you, not ALL government is bad ALL of the time.

          • Mike M

            -Helped rebuild Europe and Japan
            Helped. The economies helped more. These were problems that were going to be fixed on their own over time. Tightly focused effort with a specific end point in mind.

            -Berlin Airlift
            Small problem compared to the ones that we started with.

            -Medicare
            Disaster!

            -Medicaid
            Disaster

            -Put men on the moon less than a decade after program launch
            Small problem compared to Healthcare and climate change. Tightly focused effort with a specific end point in mind.

            -Civil Rights Act
            I thought this didn’t fix anything? Isn’t that the DNC line?

            -Won the Cold War
            You are welcome. Tightly focused effort with a specific end point in mind. The enemy broke within. Liberals fought our efforts tooth and nail.

            -No major terror attacks in the US since 9/11
            Whistlin’ in the graveyard are we? Define “major.” Still smaller than healthcare and climate change.

          • RestonAssurance

            The G.I. bill of ’44!

      • The Constitutionalist

        Well, when the tough problem is the liberal solution, what should we do….?

        • Willie Reston

          Right, just do what’s best for you and your own bank account right now, everyone else and all future generations be damned. I’m sure you’d be singing a different tune if it was your town about to be swallowed up by the sea. The lack of foresight from the right is truly staggering. Ever notice that conservatives are always on the wrong side of history?

          • The Constitutionalist

            You’re so uneducated on history, economics, and the environment that it’s impossible to have a decent discussion with you.

            We all want the same things Willie, we just see a different means to get there. You see all your problems solved by an all powerful government, I see my problems solved by my self and my own hard work.

            The difference is, it just isn’t possible for the government to solve your problems. They just can’t. There isn’t enough money in the world to solve everyone’s problems. Do yourself a favor and take an economics class — they teach it for a reason, it isn’t something you just learn on your own from your favorite socialist politician.

          • Willie Reston

            No, I’m very educated on those matters – through credible sources as well – which is something most conservatives can’t say. Remember your pal on this site who linked an article from the Rand Corp a few weeks back? That was a real knee-slapper. What’s next, Mr. I’m-an-expert-on-all-matters? A lesson on the merits of your sacred Trickle-down Economics? Please, tell us all how that icon of conservative economics helped our country, I’m dying to hear it.

          • The Constitutionalist

            “No, I’m very educated on those matters – through credible sources as well – which is something most conservatives can’t say.”

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

            Clearly.

  • questionforRN

    How much money does Ken pay RestonNow each week to post these articles? And is he using his own money or Fairfax Tax payers money? Does he know the difference between the two?

    • The Constitutionalist

      Is there a difference?

      • RestonAssurance

        My elected official or not, I’d want to know what s/he has to say.

        • The Constitutionalist

          It’s 2017 — Please don’t assume your elected official’s gender.

          That also doesn’t answer my question, is there and has there ever been a difference between Ken Plum’s money and taxpayer money?

          • 40yearsinreston

            No
            He has been feeding at the public trough for decades

    • Reston Now

      Ken doesn’t pay us anything. He is an elected representative so we publish his column as a service to the community.

  • cRAzy

    I don’t have any problem with the basic science that human activity is warming the earth and, therefore, causing the seas to rise. I just don’t care about Tidewater, Virginia, especially in this local paper–and neither should you.

    So why aren’t you addressing the issues that confront Restonians: Uncontrolled development, inadequate transportation, deteriorating schools, lack of affordable housing, etc.–all of which have been at least partially caused by actions taken in the Virginia General Assembly where you allegedly work.

    As they say at the New England Patriots (and I’m no fan): “Just do your job!” You know what happens when everyone does their job; good things happen. Just look at the Patriots’ Super Bowl victories.

    Now go to work.

  • 40yearsinreston

    Climate change is a red herring
    We should be debating how to put Ken out to pasture

  • Chuck Morningwood

    There’s only one solution to man’s negative contribution to global climate change: thin the herd. No nations consumes more natural resources and produces more pollutants per capita than an American. The solution is simple: reduce the number of Americans. I vote that we start with Illegal Aliens.

    • RestonAssurance

      A thinning of the herd is imminent, but at this rate only the Native Americans will be the ones left standing.

  • The Constitutionalist

    “But go on burying your head in the sand on the things that really matter. As long as Republicans keep focusing on their own made-up issues that exist only in their demented heads, we’re all good!”

    Oh, the irony.

  • drb

    The reason so many don’t bite at the apple the Left offer is that we have heard the song sung before and “second verse same as the first” as an old group once put it.
    The 70’s was global cooling, “New Ice Age” in 20 years. The Global Warming comes next. World flooding in a decade. All of these great scare the pants off the public with fake pictures and adds just didn’t come true so like the old Chicken Little “the sky is falling” we stopped listening and believing the lies.

    Since none of these came true and the public didn’t bite and sell out their freedom quickly the Left decides the lie needs a longer time frame so maybe a 100 years or even 150 years. But a funny thing happened on the way home from the scientific gathering. The emails of these fakers got released.

    Let us not mention the salesmen that are promoting this like Al Gore and Hollywood shills and so on are all riding around in jets and living in monster homes telling everyone else we should live with much less and give more to the government.

    Look at Ken here. He is writing this on a computer made with plastic that is made from crude oil. He is driving in an automobile that burns fossil fuels. He heats and cools his home with fossil fuel. He works in a building that is heated and cooled with fossil fuel. Not to mention all of these were build with equipment burning fossil fuel and workers transported by fossil fuel.

    So you on the Left please forgive us thinking folk for not wanting your utopia. Like the good people of Missouri say “show me”. Give all your income to the government first. Live in a tent made from hemp and walk everywhere and shun all the worldly goods and services that you so want everyone else to not have. Then we may after a few hundred years take you seriously.

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