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Letters: When the oceans rise

June 28, 2012

Re "State sea levels expected to rise," June 25

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.

Sarah Newkirk


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.

Some government entities try to make sure they can meet future needs: Will we have enough water? Will our beaches and low-lying communities remain safe from rising sea levels? How can we maintain breathable air?

To answer these questions, they call in the best experts they can find, and these experts say we are in serious trouble from sea level rise, rising temperatures and decreasing water supplies.

What level of disaster will it take to force us to listen?

Frances Mathews



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