Opinion: NC museum should be open to sea level rise discussion

Opinion: NC museum should be open to sea level rise discussion

Michael Bragg

The director of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences has successfully prevented the screening of a documentary focusing on the effects of sea-level rise in his museum’s Science Cafe, according to indyweek.com.

“Shored Up,” directed by Ben Kalina, deals with the struggles coastal communities face due to super storms and rising sea-levels. The N.C. Coastal Federation, a nonprofit, hoped to show the film at the Museum of Natural Sciences during their weekly talks about science and technology.

That is, until director Emlyn Koster decided to veto the idea. His reason? According to emails the museum provided to INDY week, Koster wrote, “We want to engage the public… rather than focusing on an hour-long film in a theater.”

He went on to say that the museum needs to “ensure a science-centered approach.” This would be fine, if the film was not firmly rooted in science. Coastal Federation officials told INDY week that the science in the documentary is backed up by research.

It seems to me that Koster has a different motive to preventing the screening of “Shored Up,” one that is quite possibly based on politics.

In 2012, North Carolina legislators passed a law that prevents the scientifically sound measuring of sea levels along the state’s coast.

This law places restrictions on state agencies, making it difficult to prepare for sea-level rise, according to INDY week.

The same article states that the result is that developers are free to build in low-lying, weak areas along the coast free from additional regulations. This law seems to allow developers to scam real estate buyers.

Coastal Federation officials admitted that the documentary does not allow the opposing parties to rebut this argument. However, the film was reviewed with museum management, and it was decided that a panel discussion would be held after the movie to allow those with differing points of view to express their ideas, according to INDY week.

According to the report, Koster would not even allow this and canceled the screening. It is hugely disappointing that the director of the museum, who vocalizes his desire to teach factual science, does not advocate a film that does just that.

I can appreciate that the museum wanted to share opposing views, but preventing the movie from showing altogether is a blow to freedom of speech.

If Koster is concerned about the reputation of his museum, I think he has more to fear by preventing “Shored Up” from screening.

Opinion: ERICA BADENCHINI, Opinion writer