Climate Resiliency in Connecticut

Jeff Gross

Recently the Sierra Shoreline Group sponsored an outdoors event on Climate Resiliency at Hammonasset Beach Park. The headline speaker was State Senator Christine Cohen, a lead proponent of the House Bill which eventually became Public Act 21-115, An Act Concerning Climate Change Adaptation. Senator Cohen was joined by representatives from Green Bank, the River Council of Governments, UConn's Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA), Save the Sound, and numerous town officials. 

Audience members were able to listen and respond to astounding examples of climate change already impacting our Connecticut towns. The common theme was that officials and citizens need to be honest and realistic in acknowledging the threats, but that no single big fix can future-proof our infrastructure and our accustomed natural environment. Rather, we are facing a generational challenge where incremental increases in resiliency need to be funded in a piecemeal fashion.

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Photo: Sierra's Jody Kaplan introducing speakers. 

Photo Credit: Connecticut Green Bank

Some quotations from the speakers:

 

"Just where will the water be in 50 years?"

 

"The problem is not that 100-year storms come every 10 years. It's that 10-year storms come every few months."

 

The Shoreline group will be continuing this conversation at our next regular virtual meeting on the evening of December 8. Although we will be summarizing some of the findings of the Hammonasset meeting, we are more interested in hearing the concerns and priorities of residents and climate activists. In particular there are aspects of Resiliency that were only touched upon during the last event:

  • In Connecticut, what is a reasonable balance between Adaptation (responding to climate change) and Mitigation (reducing emissions and other environmental stressors to undo climate change)?

  • How can we fairly allocate public resources from an equity perspective, so that not just waterfront property owners benefit?

  • How can we preserve the integrity and beauty of our natural landscape as we build new infrastructure in response to rising water levels?

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Photo: Panelists answering questions.

Photo credit: Connecticut Green Bank

Please be our guests and attend our next meeting! We can promise a discussion that is both lively and serious. 

 

Jeff Gross is Chair of Sierra Club Connecticut’s Clean Transportation for All Committee.