Thursday, June 12, 2014

Top 10 Takeaways from Boston's Future Climate Event

We know about the droughts in California, the heat waves in India, and food shortages in Syria, but how will climate change affect Boston? The city's climate change policy makers joined environmentalists and concerned citizens on Monday at Weathering the Storm: Boston's Future Climate hosted by The Nature Conservancy. Speakers included: Adam Freed of The Nature Conservancy; Vivien Li, president of the Boston Harbor Association; Brian Swett of the City of Boston; and Vicki Arroyo of the Georgetown Climate Center.

Here are some takeaways from the event:

  • If sea level was to rise 7.5 feet, a hurricane like Sandy (if it were to hit Boston,) would flood 60% of the city.
  • The Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant is an example of sustainability - it was build 2' above the 100 year flood level, has wind turbines and solar panels on site, and an operations team is researching methane recapture.
  • The new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital is another example of smart architecture for a warmer future. Their resilient design was developed after seeing the pros and cons of the hospital facilities design in New Orleans during Katrina. (Like, don't keep the backup generator in the basement!)
  • Boston is the 4th most susceptible city in the U.S. to sea level rise, after New York, New Orleans, and Miami. 
  • 2012 was the hottest year on record by a full degree.
  • Heat waves are also a major concern for city planners.
  • Major U.S. cities are taking great strides for climate preparedness, but these actions alone will not do the trick - more stakeholders need to be brought to the table.
  • Some of the negative impacts of Sandy and Katrina are because they hit at the end of the month when people's pay checks or government assistance has run out - leaving them without the financial resources necessary to evacuate.
  • The question should not be if someone "believes" in climate change, it should be whether they "understand" climate change.
  • Climate change preparedness is an issue of national security. 

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