Things we can do personally and locally to deal with global warming

February 2017

With the Trump administration calling climate change a hoax, the burden now falls on states, counties, cities, towns and individuals to do something to save our way of life.

First, of course, we should do what we can to reduce CO2 production. Solar panels on our roofs where appropriate, hybrid cars, electric cars, conservation…..there are many steps each of us can take individually.

But no matter what we do, it’s too late to stop significant sea level rise.

As Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and NASA Sea Level Change Team leader says: “Given what we know now about how the ocean expands as it warms and how ice sheets and glaciers are adding water to the seas, it’s pretty certain we are locked into at least 3 feet [0.9 meter] of sea level rise, and probably more,” he said. “But we don’t know whether it will happen within a century or somewhat longer.”

Three feet of sea level rise appears to be a certainty. If you want to know what that will do to your neighborhood, you can see it at I checked on Barnstable, Massachusetts. Route 6A will be right on the water and unusable in places.

Before you say “So, what? It’s a century off and there is nothing we can do,” visit These people are working to raise awareness of what sea level rise is going to mean to Florida so the state can start now to deal with it.

I suggest we do the same on Cape Cod. We could start with a volunteer advisory board of people with expertise, including people from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (we’re incredibly lucky to have them here) and several experts from relevant fields who have retired to the Cape. This group should be asked to produce a detailed report on the effects of three feet of sea level rise on Cape Cod, and make suggestions as to things we can start to do now to ameliorate the problems.

For example, we can forbid any new building on ground that will certainly be under water. Or at least refuse to provide flood insurance for those buildings. New buildings and existing buildings that will be in the new flood plain limits should be forbidden from doing any serious renovations unless they put their building on “stilts” as they do in Sanibel Island Florida. Over 100 years that’s going to take care of a lot of buildings.

Then we should look at places we can strategically locate dikes or dams that would protect larger areas. Over time, we may be able to build a lot of these, saving large tracts. The Dutch, who are experts on this sort of thing will be happy to help us.

With a full century head start we should be able to find the money necessary to accomplish quite a bit. Let’s stop acting like the frog.

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