Climate change news over the last several weeks, like The Times' article on California's sea levels rising by up to five feet, has been troubling. The country's most esteemed scientists continue to forecast a major sea level rise, as in the recent National Research Council report, while high-level government institutions decline to take meaningful action to forestall or even confront it.
Local governments and communities will bear the brunt of this intransigence, but they are also empowered to take independent action. Land-use policies that promote prudent setbacks from the coast and preserve natural protective features such as dunes and wetlands could really improve the climate resilience of coastal communities.
Proactive states — like California — should support local governments as they take these steps.
The writer is the coastal project director for the Nature Conservancy.
Hapless Easter Islanders used up their trees and destroyed their forests, thereby losing their food sources. Like them, we are ignoring obvious threats.