February 21, 2013

Our best chance - Investing in Resilience

After experiencing four 100 year storms in the last 18 months - is it time to start making decisions about our buildings and infrastructure that deviate from our historical practices and assumptions? Should we update our stormwater design standards that are currently based on storm data from 1958? Are there better and more cost effective ways to update our stormwater system than just assuming we need bigger pipes? 
I would propose that the answer to all of these questions is - Yes! 
Lexington will consider at Town Meeting this spring whether it is time to begin taking action in response to climate change.  Town Meeting will be asked to vote if it is time to begin incorporating the effects of climate into our decisions and planning process, and whether we'll ask our Town to develop a climate action plan to identify resilient ways we can adapt to the impacts we are already experiencing and cost effective ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Please contact your Town Meeting Members - especially those who are running for office this spring - and ask them to vote Yes on Warrant Article 33. 

Here are some thoughts on this subject from the Boston Globe Opinion page. 
"The best chance of success in minimizing the effects of sea level rise and increasing storm frequency and intensity [emphasis added] will collectively involve industry, government, and individual citizens making challenging decisions that are likely to deviate from historical practices and assumptions." 
"One strategy... is to invest in resilience. This means acknowledging that flooding will occur, but making sure that after the storm recedes, our buildings can be pumped dry, and that we can recover with only minimal damage. This will require new building codes and some significant costs, although not the massive public investment required for large infrastructure." - Dan Schrag and Richard Murray
Richard W. Murray is professor of earth and environment at Boston University and a selectman in Scituate. Daniel P. Schrag is a professor of geology and director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. 
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