Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Warming Wednesdays: Martha's Vineyard musings

Yesterday we began the long trek home to California by taking the ferry from Vineyard Haven to the Massachusetts mainland. Looking back at the harbor, I thought about one of the articles I'd read about what climate change will do on Martha's Vineyard Island.
“When you live on an Island,” she said, “you have to be concerned that the sea is rising.”
shore hotels.jpg
This beach set up that attracts throngs of tourists will be among the first facilities to go with the projected three foot (or more) sea level increase over the coming decades.

MV hospital.jpg
But a few beach chairs and motels can be moved. Some of the Island's infrastructure is more permanent, but still at risk. This large building is the shiny new Martha's Vineyard Hospital. The people of the Island are properly proud to have raised the money to build it.

But as sea levels advance, there are expected to be more strong storms including increasing hits by category one and two hurricanes. And that suggests a problem for this fine facility.
A category two storm would cut off all routes but one to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
You can see why that's a concern here:
MV hospital approach better.jpg
This approach across a causeway and over a drawbridge is not likely to useable in a major storm. Approaches from other side are no less vulnerable.

As the sea rises, Martha's Vineyard is going to have to find new compromises with the sea around it. That's what islands do, perhaps setting an example for all of us who can forget we are living on a big island.

Despite every other legitimate concern, we cannot ignore that our economic and social system is rapidly making the planet less habitable. So I will be posting "Warming Wednesdays" -- reminders of that inconvenient truth.

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