Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — an international body of scientists and arguably the most credible source of climate change information — issued a harrowing report on the impacts of global warming. The report warns that even if we drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions today some effects, such as extreme drought, oppressive heat waves, and catastrophic flooding, will keep getting worse for at least the next 30 years.
Climate change was not a household word 15 years ago, when I wrote a series for the Vineyard Gazette on how it would affect the Island. Today it is front page news and there is even a phrase for people feeling stress about it — climate anxiety.
My goal in the 2011 series was to put the local climate pieces together so we as a community could prepare for the impacts. My motto was taken from a Beatles song: “Take a sad song and make it better.”
Now there are people Islandwide taking climate action. At the Martha’s Vineyard Commission we are tackling it on two fronts: climate mitigation, the reduction (and by 2040 the elimination) of Island greenhouse gas emissions, and climate adaptation, action to address the local impacts, like sea level rise, health risks, agricultural disruptions and the economic fallout.
The commission just received a $174,000 grant to develop a comprehensive, locally driven 20-year Vineyard and Gosnold Climate Action Plan on the following interconnected issues:
• Land use and natural resources;
• Transportation, infrastructure and building materials;
• Food security;
• Public health and safety;
• Economic resilience;
• Energy transformation.
To plan wisely, we need as much information as possible. And information doesn’t come cheap. Most grants require local matching funds, which can be difficult to find.
Right now the commission is searching for matching funds for the following studies:
• Year two of a Coastal Zone Management grant to identify and map the inland paths that storm water will take as storm surges and sea levels rise (there are 700 such pathways).
• The Vineyard share of an Army Corps of Engineers study to identify the carrying capacity of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
• Local decadal climate scenarios and a carbon sequestration study by Woodwell Climate Research Center in Woods Hole.
And these are just planning projects. The actual implementation of climate change strategies will cost a fortune. We are on the cusp of great change to the Island community. With informed, insightful planning we can take the challenges and turn them into opportunities to improve our quality of life.
Recently the MVC teamed up with the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation and established a climate adaptation fund to help the Island withstand the collective impacts of a warming world.
We could use your help. Donations can be sent to the MV Community Foundation, Climate Adaptation Fund, PO Box 243, West Tisbury, MA 02535.
The movement you need is on your shoulder.
Liz Durkee is the climate change planner for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.
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