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To read the original and the newly released versions of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources climate-change report, go to postandcourier.com.To comment on the report, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Climate Change, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, S.C. 29202.
A controversial state climate-change report might not have changed, now that it has been shown to the public, but the sales pitch for it sure has.
Toning it down
The introduction to “Climate Change Impacts to Natural Resources in South Carolina” has been reworked from the original, completed in 2011. The difference is distinct from the opening lines.Former Director John Frampton’s executive summary: “Global warming and cooling have occurred naturally throughout history, but changes in the past were usually much slower than the warming that has occurred in the past few decades.”Director Alvin Taylor’s forward: “In recent years state natural resource agencies including the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have been engaged in discussions about climate change.”
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has released the report more than a year after it was finished, and two months after its board reversed an earlier decision not to release it.
The report is largely intact, but the introduction has been modified dramatically to tone down contentions about the warming phenomenon itself.
Climate warming and its man-made component continue to spark debate in South Carolina, despite the preponderance of research and physical changes that show both are occurring.
The lengthy report is a combination of scientific analysis, conclusions and staff recommendations on how to deal with potential impacts from climate warming on the state’s outdoors and wildlife.
DNR will take public comments on it until May 24 by mail or email.
Originally completed in 2011 as a draft for public review, the report was shown to the DNR board in July 2012 after the replacement of some board members by then-newly elected Gov. Nikki Haley, who has pushed for pared-down, business-friendly regulatory agencies.
It was shelved. Board members characterized the subject as highly controversial, and the report as highly technical and not a priority at the time.
The decision to release it was made in February after The Post and Courier and other newspapers obtained copies. Board Chairman John Evans said then that it would be released when it was finished. The executive summary and introduction to the original report were strident: “Climate change will cause physical changes to our environment,” former Director John Frampton wrote at one point. Frampton was ousted by the board in late 2011.
The current version does not include an executive summary. Director Alvin Taylor’s introduction uses language such as “questions” and “complex issues.”
Taylor said the introduction rewrite was his decision, cleared by the board. The report itself was not changed, after discussions with staff.
“The report needs to stand on its own merits for the public’s review, not on what I think of it,” Taylor said. ”Staff had done their work. That needed to stand on its own.”