A recent short article in Scientific American by North Carolina native Scott Huler outlines the latest loony southern denial of science.

In the face of forecasts that Atlantic Ocean levels will rise by more than three feet before the end of the century, a group of 20 legislators from coastal counties in North Carolina have introduced a bill in the State House of Representatives that would make measurements of anything more than incremental changes in sea level against the law.

“We’ve got resorts to build and we don’t care what the rest of the ocean does—our sea isn’t going to rise by more than 15.6 inches,” writes Huler. “Because otherwise it’s against the law.”

The full, contorted explanation of the bizarre law—“mental gymnastics” is the term used by a Bible scholar I quote in Better Off Without ’Em to describe the way fundamental southerners justify their medieval decrees—is outlined in the article.

Huler stretches a bit to tie the proposed legal limitation on sea levels (goddamn Atlantic Ocean!) to the state’s recent constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. (Goddamn gays!) Not that I should talk—I managed to shoehorn a mini Survivor rant into a recent blog post of my own about southern schools.

Mostly, though, the article is both a typically funny and typically depressing piece about a part of the country where, when weighing the pros and cons of policy issues, the people and their elected officials often as not, as Huler notes, bury their heads in the swamp muck and allow ignorance and wishful thinking to hold sway over things like scientific evidence and basic observation of reality.

The article is linked above and also here.