Sunday, April 12, 2009

Challenges for the Connecticut coast

The Day (Connecticut): Buffers or barricades? Coastal development or coastal retreat? Marsh loss or marsh replacement? Tough choices like these confront Connecticut, especially its shoreline, as the planet inches toward what experts say is inevitable: swelling seas and intensifying storms as the effects of climate change are felt over the coming decades.

”It's a risk problem,” said Gary Yohe, economics professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown and a member of climate change adaptation panels in New York City and Connecticut. “You can't write a guarantee that it's not going to happen, but you can reduce your exposure and lessen your sensitivity.”

Yohe is also a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations-sponsored international scientists group that authored a series of authoritative reports on climate change evidence, effects and needed actions. …”Even though sea level rise is happening at an incremental pace,” Yohe said, “people will notice the increasing vulnerability during storms. That will get their attention.”

Much of the talk about climate change thus far has focused on finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most extreme projections of runaway warming. But adaptation - figuring out how to cope with the effects that can't be avoided - is also part of the discussion.

…Connecticut is among at least eight states and six major U.S. cities that have established panels to begin tackling adaptation. Connecticut's panel, under the wing of the state Department of Environmental Protection, is charged with making recommendations for next steps by the end of this year…

Avery Point Lighthouse, Groton, Connecticut

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