Year 4, Month 5, Day 18: Just Enough For The City

The Westerly Sun (CT) discusses post-Sandy reconstruction and its connection to climate change:

WESTERLY — On a cold, blustery day in April, Janet Freedman and Nate Vinhatiero stand gazing at Misquamicut beach. There is so much sand in the air, it’s like being in a desert during a windstorm. Freedman, a coastal geologist with the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, assesses the progress made since Superstorm Sandy hammered the area at the end of October 2012.

“I’m really impressed that they screened it all,” Freedman says, looking at the newly created dunes made from sand that had washed onto Atlantic Avenue. “If you’re doing dune restoration, you need to have all the debris out.”

Vinhatiero, an oceanographer who works for Applied Science Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Wakefield, explains that he and Freedman are primarily concerned with one major effect of climate change.

“We’re focusing on sea level rise, because for the south shore, that’s the most critical aspect of climate change,” he said.

As Freedman and Vinhatiero observe and record the lingering storm damage — and the scores of workers repairing and restoring the beach, homes and businesses — they and other scientists worry that all this work could be for nothing.

Not-so-clever apes, all of us. May 5:

There are several reasons that climate change is all too often excluded from discussions of post-storm reconstruction, despite its obvious relevance. First is that we humans are notoriously poor at thinking about the long term; in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, people simply want their lives restored to normal as rapidly as possible. While our climate is indeed transforming with exceptional rapidity, most of its effects will be felt by our descendants, and most of us don’t give more than lip service to the lives of people a century or more from now.

Second is that Earth’s climate is a complex dynamic system to which simple rules of causality don’t apply. This means that the greenhouse effect will have different impacts in different parts of the planet, and that we can’t describe single events like Superstorm Sandy as definite consequences of increased atmospheric CO2.

Finally is the inconvenient fact that fossil fuel corporations wish to avoid a hugely expensive responsibility, so they’ve spent extraordinary amounts to influence our politicians and media away from any reasonable, fact-based discussion of climate change — because such discussion would inevitably turn to the central role of oil and coal in creating the climate crisis.

Warren Senders