Shared from the 8/29/2019 Southampton Press - Eastern Edition eEdition


A Cascade Of Concern


Karl Grossman,a resident of Noyac, is a journalism educator, author and awardwinning journalist who has written “Suffolk Closeup,” focusing on local and regional issues, for nearly 50 years. His email address is

It’s happening: Climate change is hitting this area. In Greenport, on the North Fork, the dock for Shelter Island’s North Ferry terminal is to be raised in response to higher tides — a result of sea level rise caused by global warming and consequent climate change.

In western Suffolk County, in Smithtown, changes are being proposed in the town’s coastal management plan, including restrictions on development in areas likely to be affected by sea level rise. The changes would require that sea level change be considered when siting, designing or approving waterfront projects. They also would require property owners to, when “practical,” move houses threatened by coastal erosion. Constructing “hard structures” on the shore — such as sea walls and rock groins — would be allowed only as a last resort.

In Sag Harbor, the second annual “Living on the Edge in the Face of Climate Change” event pairing Kevin McAllister, founding president of the organization Defend H20, and actor and environmental activist Alec Baldwin, a resident of Amagansett, has just been held.

“We are making progress. The level of enlightenment has improved. If we keep the wave going, we’ll get there,” Mr. McAllister said at the event attended by 150 people.

Over the past 40 years, waters surrounding Long Island, said Mr. McAllister, have risen by 4 inches. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is projecting that, because of climate change, in the next 40 years “we can expect they’ll rise by 11 to 30 inches.”

That seriously threatens this area.

“We know what we are facing. We know what we need to do,” said Mr. Baldwin. And a need is to “convince a critical mass of people as to what they have to do as well.”

There’s been “a cascade of unsettling information about the environment,” said Mr. Baldwin, especially about last month’s record heat in the United States.

Indeed, as the Associated Press has just reported: “July was the hottest month measured on Earth since records began in 1880, the latest in a long line of peaks that scientists say back up predictions for man-made climate change.”

This is a worldwide climate change crisis. The headline of a just-out National Geographic article: “A heat wave is turning Greenland’s ice to slush. That’s bad news.” The headline of a June piece in The New York Times: “India Heat Wave, Soaring Up to 123 Degrees.”

Back to this July: “Dangerous Temperatures Grip New York City,” headlined a story in The New York Times. The headline of an Associated Press dispatch last month: “Alaska records its warmest month ever; future records likely.” And in The New York Times two weeks ago: “An Ice-Free Iceland Is Not A Joke.”

Indeed, what’s happening is no joke!

Long Island is not among the places that will disappear because of climate change. Reader’s Digest has just put together a list of places that because of climate change are “likely to be submerged within the next 80 years.” These include these nations: 1,000-island Solomon Islands, Palau, Fiji, 600-island Micronesia, the Cook Islands, and the Marshall Islands, all in the Pacific; and the Maldives and also Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. And French Polynesia would be inundated. Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay off Maryland would be under water. And so on.

Yes, Long Island won’t vanish, but, sitting in a rising sea with its millions in population, it will be heavily impacted. “Sections will be submerged,” says Mr. McAllister, “including Napeague, Mastic Beach, the Dune Road area of Westhampton.”

A main point Mr. McAllister made at the “Living on the Edge in the Face of Climate Change” event was the importance of dealing with the cause of climate change, in addition to its effects. He questioned the opposition to the South Fork Wind Project and its placement of 15 offshore wind turbines 30 miles out to sea by some people in the Town of East Hampton.

This is preferable, said Mr. McAllister, to the U.S. government’s push for drilling in waters off Long Island for a substance that is among the fossil fuels central to why we have climate change: oil. Mr. McAllister said: “Let’s move to the sustainable frontier, and that’s critical.”

More next week.

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