The latest Winthrop Poll of South Carolinians has a wake-up call for local and state officials—sea levels are and will rise so start planning. The results parallel the informal findings of the sea-level rise education project, South Carolina Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (SCBARS.org,) of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce (SCSBCC) which has been working with coastal small businesses and local government officials.
According to the Winthrop Poll those living in coastal counties are quite familiar with the issue of rising seas with 68% saying that they are very sure or somewhat sure sea-level rise is or will be happening. That compares to 55.4% of respondents from non-coastal counties. Statewide 57.3% said that sea levels will rise with only 8% saying that sea levels are and will not rise.
Rising seas is also not seen as a problem that the state will face in some far distant future. Nearly 9% said that the effects of sea-level rise are significant now, 18.7% expect to see the effects within 10 years and 18.9% say within 25 years. Over 46% of South Carolinians surveyed thus believe that the impact of rising seas will happen well within the average lifespan of most of our state residents.
Overwhelmingly those surveyed, 73.3%, support state and local governments taking actions to make South Carolina coastal communities better prepared for sea-level rise and its impacts. Clearly South Carolinians are concerned about rising seas and want their government officials to begin planning.
The SCBARS project also found that small businesses are concerned about the future impact of rising seas on the state’s coastal tourism economy and supported local government to begin planning efforts. The SCSBCC has been encouraging the coastal cities of North Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Charleston and Beaufort to form community-based sea-level rise task forces to look possible inundation vulnerabilities under different sea-level rise scenarios and to make recommendations on how their communities could be more resilient.
The Winthop Poll was taken November 9 – 16 by Winthrop University’s Social & Behavioral Research lab under the direction of Dr. Scott Huffmon. To view the poll click here.
Contact Frank Knapp, President and CEO, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, 803-252-5733