The time is now
Block Island has taken some baby steps toward preparing against the potential impacts of climate change and sea level rise. There has been a study done on the Corn Neck Road corridor, as an example, and there have been some very preliminary discussions on whether the locations for the Police Department and Island Free Library could be relocated to higher ground.
It is now time for more to be done. According to the study published in this week’s edition, New England has already lost hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate value due to sea level rise. Block Island’s natural buffers and landscape may provide some protection to these gradual erosions and impacts, but there is no guarantee that the northern section of Corn Neck Road, as an example, might not eventually be cut off. There is already enough evidence of flooding in front of the Beach Pavilion due to high winds and high tides.
The projected dates as to when the island will be affected by sea level rise are no longer the numbers of science fiction. A virtual map created by FloodiQ.com shows what the island may look like in 2035 (not dissimilar to other projections The Block Island Times has published during the past few years) — that’s just 16 years from now. It may or may not come true at that exact time, but to think there will not be some impact to the island seems seems foolish at this point. (An excellent guide to sea level rise impacts can also be found at the Coastal Resource Management Council’s Special Area Management Plan site: beachsamp.org.)
Block Island has done such a good job keeping its landscape and natural resources healthy. The community can avoid the potential ravages of nature by doing some spectacular planning for the future. The Town Council should create a committee that can begin to collate what needs to be done. Other communities will look on with envy if we do.