Major storms like Sandy and Irene have changed the climate change paradigm, and I was pleased to see the Globe’s Sunday editorial praising Boston’s leadership and encouraging the rest of Massachusetts to move quickly to limit the impact of future storms and sea levels (“Rising seas require changes to waterfront building rules”).
Through a combination of factors including sea level rise with more frequent and intense storms, Massachusetts is among the states most vulnerable to these impacts. They threaten to overwhelm our defenses and rob people along our coasts and river corridors of their jobs in fishing and tourism as well as their homes and their communities.
The Commonwealth also has some of the best resources to use nature as an ally, such as preserving dunes and wetlands that buffer communities from flooding and storm surge and provide improved water quality, fisheries, and erosion control.
The state is poised to be a national leader in climate resiliency, having published a climate change adaptation report and supported smart initiatives at various state agencies.
Now, our leaders need to act and develop an integrated approach to adaptation — setting goals, developing policy priorities, and engaging leaders in the public and private sectors.
The writer is the director of the Massachusetts chapter of The Nature Conservancy.