By Ben Hastings
The Long Island Sound is among the most treasured areas in Connecticut, and is home to the UCONN Avery Point campus. Unfortunately, this area of the state has fallen victim to the effects of climate change many times over the past few years in the form of hurricanes and unheard of amounts of snow. The Connecticut shoreline is truly a special place to be for vacationers and residents alike, which is why certain preventative actions against climate change need to be taken to preserve a valuable part of our great state.
Those of us who live in CT know all too well about the destruction that Tropical Storm Irene and storm Sandy caused the shoreline. They also realize if we don’t begin to build more resilient communities and take action to mitigate events like these, the state of Connecticut will be in trouble. Sandy alone caused $360 million in damage to our state, and cost 4 people their lives. A disaster like this one requires action by a wide range of stakeholders including companies, community, political leaders, and academia. Their input is needed so that we can better understand how a catastrophe like storm Sandy can be prepared for, and look at the bigger picture that is climate change.
A Climate Change research center will soon be a part of The University of Connecticut at Avery Point. The new Institute for Community Resilience and Climate Adaptation is now a reality. On January 24th 2014, Governor Daniel Malloy and other CT officials gathered together at the beautiful Branford House at Avery Point. The funding for the center will be coming from the $2.5 million result of a lawsuit between Unilever and The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. A grant from NOAA will also contribute $500,000.
It was only fitting that the press conference took place at the Branford House, which was looking over the sound as the CT and UCONN leaders made their statements. Molloy said that we will be facing more storms of this magnitude as a result of the changing climate, and reassured the audience that Connecticut was doing its part to slow climate change. The quote of the day was from Senator Blumenthal who said, “Put simply, the mission of the center is to save the world, so no pressure."
Additional leaders who came out to show their support were Dan Esty, commissioner of DEEP, Rep. Courtney, as well as representatives from the EPA and NOAA.
Although the fine details about what the center might do have not been completely established, statements from the speakers gave me hope for what a great resource this could truly be. This facility would be a source of information for homeowners, businesses and students alike that want to learn how to mitigate the risks that go along with living on the shoreline, especially with the more frequent storms that our region has experienced. Also, this could be viewed as a revitalization of the UCONN Avery Point campus itself. The campus was referred to by Gov. Malloy as, a jewel in the UCONN system that has been underutilized.
The buzzword that I kept hearing over and over from the speakers was, “resiliency.” It seems that the Institute for Community Resilience and Climate Adaptation will be the hub for Connecticut communities to get the information they need to know about climate change events that affect us all. With the diligence and hard work of the folks over at UCONN Avery Point, this center could change the way in which we think, and react to the impacts of climate change on the shoreline. Only time will tell if we have mitigated these disasters properly.
Learn more about the Institute for Community Resilience and Climate Adaptation and this historic day here.