NORWALK, Conn. — Look at Norwalk and see how much of it is 10 feet above sea level, Martin van Breems said.
“We don’t have a seawall, a hurricane wall, like Stamford does or some other cities do. So, you know, Norwalk has a particular incentive to make sure that that we that we are ready for climate change,” the Norwalk businessman said Sunday after working with activists to bring attention to the issue.
Three boats and a blimp were offshore the Oyster Festival attempting to get folks to think about the subject. A fourth boat had mechanical difficulties and couldn’t make it.
A news release called it “the latest in a multi-faceted campaign by a dozen groups, urging Governor Lamont to take bold and immediate administrative action in light of recent reports and increasing catastrophic weather events, in Connecticut and worldwide.”
Van Breems, chief executive officer at Sound Sailing Center, said he cares about climate change both as the father of young children and as a business owner.
Sound Sailing Center, located at 54 Calf Pasture Beach Road, allows members to share sailboats, after being instructed how to use them.
“We can’t get insurance to have boats out in the Caribbean. There’s gradually more and more restrictions that are happening. It’s directly result of climate change,” he said. Traveler’s Insurance used to insure boats in the Caribbean but “it’s been way too many losses because of all the hurricanes that are stronger and stronger.”
Rain fell on Greenland’s ice cap last month, the first time on record, he said, calling it “shocking” that Hurricane Larry made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on the island of Newfoundland early Saturday morning.
Larry then reached Greenland as a post-tropical storm and dropped abundant snowfall on just as the summer melt season was coming to an end, news reports say. ““It is a dramatic end to a season of extreme events across the Greenland ice sheet,” Lauren Andrews, a glaciologist with NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, said.
“If a hurricane can make it relatively intact to Newfoundland, it just bodes very poorly for this area, and it’s going to, it’s going to get worse,” Van Breems said. “It’s been getting worse and it’s going to continue to get worse.”
The protest aimed to elevate the voice of business owners like van Breems, Tom Swan of the Connecticut Citizen Research Group, the education and research arm of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG), said.
“Climate change is really real, and the urgency is now and Connecticut is a state that is in a position we can lead. And we should,” Swan said.
“The late summer barrage of storms on Connecticut has been framed by two important reports underscoring the urgency of taking action to address climate change.” said Save the Sound Climate & Energy Attorney, Charles Rothenberger in a news release. “In August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a sobering assessment of where our climate stands and what it means for vast segments of the population, noting that increasing occurrences of extreme weather events ‘unprecedented in the observational record’ are certain on our current trajectory.”
He continued, “Connecticut’s own greenhouse gas emissions inventory, released earlier this month, shows that we are not even making sufficient progress towards reaching the state’s own mandated reduction targets – targets that we now realize are no longer adequate. Connecticut must take bold action to address climate change – action that will have direct benefits for the health and safety of Connecticut’s residents and help drive a robust, environmentally sustainable economy.”
Gov. Ned Lamont “proposed some good steps last year. But there wasn’t the follow through to make it happen,” Swan said Sunday. “There can’t be anything more important than this. I mean, just the little ride that we had back and forth from the sound today reminded about what a precious treasure we have here.”
Connecticut needs to work on its transportation options and shift to micro grids, a local energy grid that can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously, and invest in storage batteries for energy, Swan said.
“I think storage is one of the most important things to Connecticut, it’s a big infrastructure project Connecticut needs to invest in,” Van Breems said. “I think we should also be looking at – certainly offshore wind is one thing. Connecticut does have access to significant amount of tidal energy that is untapped and unused, that we need to put more resources into. Charging stations are coming but we need more of them. And I agree totally on the incentives, on you know solar roofs and things like that, to get more of us are able to make our contributions to power.”
“They’ve got to stop and curtail all the rebates they give for fossil fuel related equipment. Because eventually everybody has to get off of it. We need to put all those resources into renewable energy,” Diane Keefe said.
Average citizens can make it clear to Lamont and policy makers at every level that it’s time for action, Swan said.
“A long time ago, we outfitted our boats with electric motors, that was one small thing we figured we could do,” Van Breems said. “We are doing more, we’re just this week we’re converting a larger boat to a solar electric setup with solar panels. I think that’s the future. And that’s what we all have to find ways to make, you know, make a difference.”
He remembers when Sandy covered the Cove Marina parking lot in three feet of water, he said. “That’s going to come again and it’s going to get worse and worse as sea levels rise. So it’s a grim future if we don’t get this under control.”