Activists, Norwalk business man, urge action on climate change

Boaters attempt to spur action on climate change Sunday by protesting off shore from the Oyster Festival. (Michael O’Donnell)

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.

A boater attempts to spur action on climate change Sunday by protesting off shore from the Oyster Festival. (Harold F. Cobin)

“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.

CCAG activists inflating a balloon with their message. (John Levin)

“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.

Tom Swan, left, and Martin van Breems talk about climate change, Sunday at Cove Marina.

“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.”


10 responses to “Activists, Norwalk business man, urge action on climate change”

  1. George

    Just to be clear about Stamford’s sea wall and hurricane barrier. It only covers the east channel not the west channel.

    However in the 30 plus years I gave worked in the Shippan area the flooding caused by heavy rains has not changed. It all depends on the stages of the tides. We’ve had 5 inches of rain with no flooding and 5 inches of rain with flooding.

    Shippan Ave, Harbor Drive and Magee Ave flood from poor drainage in the low areas.

    Besides, according to some so called experts New York and Miami should had be totally under water by now and who buys 15 acres of water front property on an island after screaming about climate change for 8 years?

  2. Bryan Meek

    It’s the sun, stupid.

  3. Bryan Meek

    Not that facts matter, but looking at BPs latest energy report, we see that China uses more energy than the entire Western Hemisphere and over 60% of that is sourced from burning coal. China is responsible for roughly 1/3 of CO2 output.


    According to BP, the total sum of all human energy is about 560 Exajoules, roughly 1/10000th of the energy from the sun that hits the surface of the earth every year.

    According to NOAA, the volume of the earth’s oceans is 660 million cubic kilometers with a surface area of 500 million square km.

    After some basic conversions and calculations, it can be shown
    that the entire sum of human output is NOT even capable of heating the ocean by ONE degree in 1000 years. But we could heat the first few centimeters by ONE degree.

    But forgetting all of this, just follow our leaders who fly to parties in private jets to their ocean front homes. The peasants can wear sweaters in the winter and sweat to death in the summer for all they care.

  4. Victor Budnik

    the wind is unpredictable,for constant energy! why don’t the smart engineers do something with water? the tides of Longisland sound, they are constant! from former u.s.m.c. grunt! Semper Fi!

  5. piberman

    A sea wall/hurricane gate for Norwalk has been suggested for decades without any enthusiasm from City officials. Stamford has long had one put to good use. The largest one on the east coast is in New Bedford erected after a major storm devastated the harbor and City. Given the projected rise in LI Sound and increased projected frequency of major storms a City harbor seawall/hurricane gate ought be a no-brainer. May take a major storm and loss of property damage to make the point.

  6. Diane Keefe

    Thanks for highlighting the local business perspective that Norwalk based Sound Sailing Center owner Van Breems highlighted. We need to preserve the quality of life we so love in Norwalk! Act now. You will be glad you did.
    Scientific American cited a study in 2019 that forcasts US GDP to decline by over 8% in the 21st century (and worse in less developed, more vulnerable countries) if we don’t limit global temperature rise to the limits established in the Paris Agreement. This analysis was based on historical economic activity declines when the number of very hot days increases. This magnitude of GDP decline would be catastrophic. We need to act now. 2030 will be too late to wait for workable solutions to be implemented. We need action now.
    The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) is a great initiative to make producers and distributors of fossil fuels pay for the heavy burden that traffic congestion puts on CT both in air pollution and climate damage. Governor Lamont says we have the votes to make the TCI happen. Climate change deserves a top priority among CT based policy makers.
    Now it’s up to Senators Looney and Duff to lead the legislature to action on TCI. Please call or email Sen Duff this week to let him know you want climate action.

    Greater use of solar panels will be more resilient than utility based electric power as battery prices decline in response to improved technology. As storms intensify, we must make the electric grid more resilient with solar+ battery storage and electric cars at scale, not fossil fuel generators.

    Also Solar For All is a program now active in Norwalk to help low and moderate income Norwalk residents install solar on their rooftops. At little to no cost you can lease your roof to a solar provider, decrease your utility bills and help alleviate climate change. There is no cost to an evaluation to see if your roof is suitable.
    Information below is from Solar for All about their tabling dates and location where you can speak to a representative and learn more.
    Solar For All’s team will be tabling at the Cranbury Market this weekend and will have a table at the Lockwood Mansion Flea Market on Sunday 10am-4 PM. They will also be tabling at the Norwalk Library from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at SoNo Library (10 Washington Street) September 21st and October 5th and Main Library (1 Belden Avenue) September 30th and October 14th.

    You can also Contact Susan Young,Community Marketing Manager at 203-308-0876


    Diane Keefe

  7. Mike Lyons

    The new batteries and solar will mostly be made in China (it has 80% of the market for both, while China continues to open coal-fired power plants and spew CO2 without restriction [their energy leader wouldn’t even meet with John Kerry when he went to beg them for climate help]), thus further damaging the American economy while building up that of our prime enemy in the 21st century.

    As for the effect on our economy of climate change, the alleged decline is a misstatement of the actual conclusions of the econometric studies (even assuming you could accurately predict the economy 80 years from now – which you can’t). The models that have attempted to measure the economic impact of various scenarios modeled by the IPCC have estimated a negative impact on the economy in 2100 of anywhere from 2% to 6%. But this is a reduction in the size of the 2100 economy compared to what it would otherwise be – not a reduction in size from today’s. The IPCC uses a conservative 2% annual growth rate for the economy this century. At that rate, the US economy in 2090 will be 4 time larger than it is now ($80 trillion vs. today’s $20 trillion). Even if you assume an 8% reduction in that figure in 2090 due to climate charge, the 2090 economy would still be $73.6 trillion – 3.7 times bigger than it is now. Having 370% growth instead of 400% growth is hardly a “catastrophe” – but that’s the way climate alarmists always present these things.

    For those interested in a pretty unbiased view of these climate issues, I’d suggest the book “Unsettled” by Dr. Steven Koonin, former Undersecretary for Science in the Obama Administration, which includes an excellent analysis of these econometric projections and how they are consistently misrepresented by alarmists.

  8. Mitch Adis

    We need to ban the use of Dihydrogen Oxide for cleaning! Save the planet.

  9. CT-Patriot

    Wait, if the sea is rising and all this doom and gloom I’ve heard since I was a child, then ask yourself, why did Obama purchase an estate on land in Martha’s Vineyard on the shore?

    Sorry, but I’ve heard all about every kind of environmental catastrophic changes for my lifetime and by now I should have sea water in my home, burning heat, freezing cold, excessive winds etc.

    Hate to tell you, but no sea water, no burning heat or freezing temps and no catastrophic winds or storms. Nope, just typical New England weather.

    I’m still waiting for the frogs or locusts to arrive.

    There are better things to concern yourselves with.

  10. John C Miller Jr

    Excellent comment and suggestion by Mike Lyons to read Dr. Steven Koonin’s book “Unsettled.” Another good source of reasoned information about climate change which avoids the customary apocalyptic, sky is falling gas lighting by so called “activists” is Bjorn Lomborg.


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