Last week we wrote that a prerequisite for office-seekers in the November election must be a demonstrated ability to be civil. This week we would like to bring attention to climate change and sea-level rise.
At this point all but a narrowing fringe agree that climate change is a pressing danger, especially in coastal communities like ours. Erosion, already a fact of life along these shores, is predicted to accelerate over time. The number and intensity of storms are expected to rise as well, putting Long Island at increased risk of catastrophe.
One can argue about the causes and number of degrees the global temperature is likely to rise, but the fact remains that the vast preponderance of climate scientists agree that the threat is real — and coming fast.
To some degree, state and federal governments have begun to act and have come up with recommendations. However, at the local level, at which most land-use decisions are made, the response has been unsatisfactory. Elected and appointed officials in both East Hampton and Southampton Towns have generally clung to outdated line-in-the-sand approaches, hoping they can hold back the sea. Even now policies are being made in the absence of expert advice and boards are simply going along with those who have vested interest in a particular outcome. Answering the challenges ahead will require much more.
As local nominating committees consider candidates for the November elections, they should agree to put forward those with a demonstrable grasp of the science underlying global warming. Leaders must ignore the clouded thinking of the conspiracists who deny it. Also important will be the candidates’ willingness to work with the best available people to prepare the region for the long haul. Political hopefuls who do not articulate sound vision for meeting this massive challenge will not be worthy of voter support.