How to Raise Awareness About Sea Level Rise
Awareness Sea Level Rise Findings from the eRotary Coastal Club
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Therefore, looking for solutions, The eRotary Coastal Club offered recommendations for raising awareness about sea level rise. On June 26, 2020, Mark Daniel Maloney (then president of Rotary) made the momentous announcement that the environment would become a new area of focus for Rotary.
After that, the article below was written by Philip Zimmerman, President of the Rotary E-CLUB of Coastal Louisiana (eRotary Coastal Club), Rotary District 6200. In addition, he summarizes the findings regarding sea level rise of four technical speakers who recently addressed the club. Further more, the club is a Zoom platform e-Club focused on bringing together coastal communities around issues and common concerns of residents, businesses, leaders, and the communities they serve. In conclusion, Eugene Brill, publisher of The Wannabe Naturalist Nature Magazine is a member of this club.
Time needed: 10 hours.
How to Raise Awareness About Sea Level Rise:
- Recognize Sea Levels Are Rising
This is an undisputed fact globally. What is up in the air is the cause. The two primary opposing ideas include: Rising sea levels are a function of natural earth temperature cycle fluctuations. Rising sea levels are also due to man made environmental issues which are impacting atmospheric conditions resulting in global climatic changes. Either alternative, or a combination of the two, do not negate the fact that sea levels are rising.
- Research for a Realistic Rise Estimate
The rate of future rise is difficult to predict. While global records over the past twenty-plus years record a gradual rise, the prediction of future rise is not uniform. Using 2020 as a zero-baseline level for twenty recognized modelers, the estimated rise ranges for 2030 are from 1.1 to 3.9 inches; by 2040, from 2 to 8.7 inches; by 2050, 2.75 to 15.7 inches; by 2060, 3.9 to 25.6 inches; and by 2070, 4.7 to 37.4 inches. So, if you’re looking at fifty years out (i.e. 2071) some say the rise could be as little as less than half a foot. Others say over three feet; this difference is significant. Don’t just look for the number you want, but find a numerically calculated number that has the best percentage of being in the ballpark.
- Conduct Risk Analysis According to a Permanence/Resiliency/Sustainability Standard
For infrastructure that is not viewed as permanent to a location, it may be best to design for eventual failure. Designing for a shorter lifespan can have significant cost savings. For infrastructure that is permanent, the sea level rise design number should be as large or larger than the highest budgetary restrictions allow. Building permanent structures in coastal areas will soon become a thing of the past. Risk analyses will begin restricting project bonding and property insurance.
- Design with Nature in Mind
Encourage projects and new developments to take advantage of natural barrier and drainage conditions to protect surrounding eco-system environments. Those critters, creatures, and fauna we share the coasts with may provide beneficiary protection.
- Involve Local Community Early!
Have meaningful and relevant local community engagement early in the process that then incorporates their recommendations. Constant communication is needed to keep local leaders and concerned individuals informed as the project flows through the decision-making gauntlet.
- Anticipate Higher Order Mandates
When issues involving protection of human health, infrastructure, and/or the environment grows beyond the local level, expect that others up the budgetary and regulatory “food chain” will issue mandates of direction or compliance. Communication of local feedback as to future actions should be pushed up that chain as soon as practical to avoid unnecessary complications in the future.
- Keep It Local
To the extent possible, address sea level rise issues locally. Local communities should not expect others to protect their area if the local community is not willing to do anything themselves. Actions could include building protective walls and levees, raising building standards, and, possibly, migrating away from coastal impact areas and creating no-construction buffer zones.
- Equitable Representation
When involving the local community, remember to keep everyone in the community included in the entire planning and development lifecycle. Therefore, equitable representation allows for all voices to be heard and concerns equitably addressed.
- Equitable Participation
Seek ways to encourage more partners across the equity spectrum. The closer to home the problems sea level rise causes coastal residents, the more substantial the impact of an equitable participation team to create and support a strategic plan moving forward.
- Do Something!
In the case of sea level rise, ignoring the problem or doing nothing is not an option if you want to sustain your community and grow and thrive. Begin a conversation with your local business and community leaders. Talk to local residents and business owners on the front lines. Then organize a kick-off meeting and begin to hold local area workshops to collect information, histories, and desired outcomes. Finally, lead the way as Rotarians while embracing the principles of our Four Way Test!
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