Climate change, superstorms subject of Long Island Sound Citizens Summit Friday

Apr 27th, 2013 | By | Category: Featured Story

Save the Sound, the Long Island Sound Study (LISS), and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) hosted the 22nd annual Long Island Sound Citizens Summit at Iona College in New Rochelle, coinciding with Save the Sound’s Earth Week celebration. This year’s featured speaker was prize-winning New York Times climate blogger, journalist and author Andrew Revkin.

Storm damage (photo: cjzurcher)

Storm damage (photo: cjzurcher)

In the aftermath of four major storms in less than two years, this year’s summit focused on “Superstorm Sandy and the ‘New Normal:’ Rebuilding for Resiliency and Adapting to Climate Change.”

“As we look back to the recent storms that devastated our shoreline to examine the lessons learned, we are thrilled to bring together the diverse panelists to explore how we can re-build better and smarter,” said Curt Johnson, director of Save the Sound and Connecticut co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the LISS. “This includes ensuring that funds being directed to the Long Island Sound region from the federal Sandy Supplement Bill go towards projects that ensure that both life and ecology are protected. We learned a lot from Superstorm Sandy—like the power of dunes and beaches to protect critical infrastructure and homes and that seawalls are no silver bullet—now that we know better, we must plan and prepare better for the future.”

“Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 wreaked havoc on the coastal communities and shorelines of Long Island Sound, and the impacts of these types of extreme weather events will become even more severe as sea levels rise,” said Mark Tedesco, director of LISS, the Long Island Sound Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “This timely conference highlighted the opportunities available to make our coasts and communities more resilient to a changing climate.”

During his presentation, Andrew Revkin shared his expertise about communicating environmental issues and the challenges of discussing climate change publicly.

“Conventional media are a shrinking wedge of an explosively growing pie of communication tools, and no issues are more in need of clearer communication than the challenges of building resilience to climate hazards and stemming emissions of greenhouse gases,” said Revkin. “That means everyone is involved, from the reader to the YouTube poster and Twitter user.”

A major part of the summit was dedicated to discussing the efforts of New York and Connecticut in addressing the issues related to climate change – sea level rise, coastal zone management, and leveraging federal dollars to rebuild along the coastline.

In Connecticut, the Shoreline Preservation Taskforce has been exploring these issues over the past year in an effort to come up with ways to better prepare the state for future storms.

“It was a pleasure to take part in the Long Island Citizens Summit. Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy changed the way many of us in Connecticut look at extreme weather and our climate,” said State Representative James Albis. “As chairman of the General Assembly’s Shoreline Preservation Task Force I am working to ensure the legislature is taking the appropriate steps to allow our communities to become more resilient and prepare for the effects of extreme weather and sea level rise.”

While unable to attend, the Connecticut Congressional delegation issued the following statement in support of the summit:

“Connecticut has suffered five major storms within a few short years, each endangering the lives of residents, inflicting substantial damage and requiring millions of dollars of public investment to rebuild and recover,” said the delegation. “Unfortunately, storms like Sandy and last February’s winter storm are quickly becoming the new normal. We must redouble efforts to protect the state and nation from future storm damages and hazards. The scientific consensus is clear: global climate change is occurring and humans are contributing to it. We are committed to working with our colleagues on common sense, effective measures to reduce harmful emissions that cause global warming, pollute our environment and endanger future generations, as well as investing in projects that help nature to mitigate the damage from such storms.”

This year’s Long Island Sound Citizens Summit was dedicated in memory of Art Glowka, a long-time Sound citizen advocate who passed away recently. Glowka, a former Eastern Airlines pilot, was a founding member of the Long Island Sound Taskforce (now Save the Sound) and the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, and he was chairman of the Stamford Shellfish Commission. He appeared regularly before the Stamford Water Pollution Control Authority, South Western Regional Planning Agency, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that water regulations were upheld. His constant persistence and contribution to the Sound will be sorely missed.

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