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Rebuilding in a flood plain? Let’s use stilts and divest fossil fuels

By Peter Libre

NORWALK, Conn. – Intelligent use of taxpayer funds to rebuild Washington Village requires that construction be elevated enough to safely clear not only recent flood levels, but also the 3-6 feet higher sea levels expected later this century.

The burning of oil, coal and gas has raised the carbon dioxide ( CO2) level in the atmosphere to 400 parts per million. During the last million years, 10 ice ages came and went as CO2 ranged from 180 and 280 ppm. The low number held during ice ages, when sea levels were much lower than today, allowing humans to walk from Asia to present day Alaska and populate the Americas. The higher CO2 figure came when variations in Earth’s orbital tilt brought warmer summers to the poles every 100,000 years. As snow and ice melted, less sunlight reflected back to space. Oceans warmed, and rose. And just as warm soda releases CO2, the oceans released CO2, trapping infrared heat and pulling Earth out of an ice age — until orbital tilt changed back and the cycle reversed.

The last time CO2 was so high as now was 3 million years ago — before humans existed. Ancient beaches show that sea level was 60-70 feet higher then. It will take several centuries for sea level to reach that equilibrium level and stop rising.  But long before then, East Norwalk, South Norwalk and Rowayton will have been wiped out.

Several colleges and a few towns (including San Francisco) have recently voted to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks. Even if they cannot yet stop buying fossil fuels, they will no longer profit from that which brings climate chaos: rising seas, storm, flood, drought, wildfire and crop failure.  I recommend that Norwalk no longer invest in those companies whose business model will destroy our town. To gauge how much Big Carbon cares about our future, consider the recent comment of Exxon’s CEO Rex Tillerson, who is paid $100,000 a day: “My philosophy is to make money.”

Peter Libre

East Norwalk resident

One comment

Peter I Berman May 22, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Yes indeed but equally upsetting is why our City officials do not use this new opportunity to relocate urban housing in a pleasant residential area rather than it’s unpleasant industrial flood prone location. Why are our local church leaders silent here ? And our civic leaders, too. Shame. Where does Mayor Moccia sit on this issue ? Ditto for the GOP leader ? Or Democrats and their candidates ? Shame on their silence.

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