Rhode Island’s Ocean and Coastal Magazine
Fall 2019: Building Resilience
This issue focuses on stories of resilience, focusing on hope in the face of climate change.
From the Editor
“You’ve got to find things that give you joy.”
Those words from Cyndi Murray, in our cover story, express her resilience in the face of her decades-long struggle with Lyme disease.
Months ago, as we gathered in an office in the URI Coastal Institute to plan this issue, the editorial team of 41°N decided we wanted to tell stories like this—stories of resilience, focusing on hope, in the face of climate change.
Our writers found planners in cities, towns, and the state who are ensuring that infrastructure and development are taking future sea level rise and storms into account. Health officials are helping people affected by rising temperatures. Medical students are learning about how climate change will impact their patients.
The hope these stories portray is not blind faith that some technological intervention will reverse climate change altogether, but rather recognition that climate change is happening. Even as the world works, unevenly, to curb it, we must—and can—grapple with its effects. While there are examples of growing resilience around Rhode Island, one place where action appears lacking is at the state’s ports. Still, this “Building Resilience” issue looks much different than it would have a few years ago, when municipal decision makers, as Narragansett’s community development director Michael DeLuca alludes to in “Flushing into the Flood,” were far less aware of how climate change would affect their communities. Since then, tools like STORMTOOLS demonstrate what Rhode Island coastal areas will look like under various storm and sea level rise scenarios, municipal leaders have received state-required training in climate change, and new state and local regulations and plans are changing how building happens in vulnerable coastal areas.
All this may not give you joy, exactly, but perhaps optimism for Rhode Island’s future. We certainly hope so.
—Monica Allard Cox, Editor
– Features –
Mapping the Road to Resilience
The redesign of Tiverton’s Grinnell Beach included building a shade structure with sails that can be removed if a major storm is forecast. The renovations should inspire similar projects throughout the state.
Living with Lyme
Finding fortitude as environmentally-acquired diseases are on the rise due to climate change.
A Rising Challenge
Elevated buildings could turn a town’s waterfront into a wall of house-scrapers.
Reaction instead of preparation may drive the fate of ports, which are especially vulnerable to hurricanes and rising seas.
One Block In: Rebuilding after Sandy
Misquamicut businesses rebuild and adapt seven years after Sandy.
Resilience Shapes Investments
Warren invests in its future and plans for 3-feet of sea level rise.
Following the Fish
Rhode Island fishing fleets adapt to species shift.
Book Review: Rising
Communities with fewer resources are being hit harder by sea level rise, reveals Elizabeth Rush in “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore.”
Flushing into the Flood
Wastewater treatment facilities are situated at the bottom of the hill for a reason. But as sea level rises, this design feature can make it harder to flush.
Rethinking public health as climate changes.
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