Storm tides reach waterfront homes devastated by Hurricane Sandy on East Broadway in Milford on Dec. 27, 2012. File photo

CT - Editorial: Climate planning falls to everyone

Climate change in Connecticut is often considered a hypothetical issue. Yes, it gets hotter in the summers, but we’ve mostly been spared the devastating hurricanes, the weeks of extreme heat and the deadly wildfires that much of the rest of the country has seen in recent years.

Don’t expect that situation to continue.

Connecticut, as Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said recently, is “front and center in the climate change conversation.” Speaking at a conference on climate change and insurance, Bysiewicz said, “We need to strengthen our infrastructure and coastal defenses to better protect our communities from the rising sea levels and extreme weather events.”

That’s all true. Connecticut is a coastal state, and the barrier of Long Island won’t protect us from whatever the ocean is going to throw as us in coming decades. Already, river flooding has damaged property in severe storms in recent years, and as the climate warms, the atmosphere holds more moisture, ensuring that future storms will be more devastating.

This is not if, but when.

The question at the recent conference was how such eventualities play into the insurance industry, which has a huge presence in Connecticut. Insurers do a good job of pricing risk, one presenter said, but individual homeowners are not yet reacting in ways that prioritize protecting their investments. That needs to change.

One priority, experts said, is better education for property owners about the dangers of climate change. In some states, it’s hard to get flood insurance in coastal areas because of the certainty of catastrophe from future storms. We’re not there yet in Connecticut, but we need to know it’s coming.


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There are responsibilities at both the individual level and from the government. Connecticut has spent money on resilience projects, and more is on the way. Protecting our homes and lives from rising waters falls to everyone.

Just as crucial is the need to stop making the problem worse. That means a commitment to moving away from polluting technologies that have brought us into this mess in the first place.

Transportation is key. We pollute the atmosphere every time we drive – most of us, anyway – and it’s imperative that we cut those emissions. That’s why California has moved to phase out the sale of gas-powered cars in favor of less-polluting vehicles, and why Connecticut should follow suit. Unless it is derailed by a group of naysayers who have no legitimate plans of their own and appear only to want to start a political fight, Connecticut will do just that.

That’s not the end of what we need to do on climate change policy. But it is a necessary step. Resilience projects are needed for the damage that has already been done but has yet to arrive. Reducing emissions will help prevent even greater damage.

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