Two years ago the Jersey Shore, a place where I call home, was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. My friends and family were left without heat, electricity, and some were left without homes. While my family was fortunate enough to have mild damages to our properties, others had lost everything. The first time I returned home, about a month after Sandy, there were still incredible signs of the destruction. Boats were still washed up on major roads, the streets were still full of debris, and beach towns resembled ghost towns. I observed places that were once very familiar seem almost unrecognizable.
This famous photograph (above) was taken in a nearby town, which I recalled having to pull a u-turn in the driveway during the previous summer months. Hurricane Sandy forever altered the landscapes of the Jersey Shore.
During our trip to Washington DC, we spoke with Joel Scheraga, the Senior Advisor for Climate Adaptation in the Office of Policy in the Office of the Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Joel Scheraga spoke to us about the importance of mainstreaming climate adaptation planning. As we have already seen impacts of climate change through intensifying natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, it is imperative that the process of redevelopment incorporates climate-resilient methods. It is the EPA’s mission to anticipate and plan for future changes in climate. Climate adaptation will prepare the world for the impacts of climate change.
After meeting with Joel Scheraga, I began to wonder in what ways the Jersey Shore was rebuilt to withstand future climatic events.
Dickinson’s Global Climate Change delegation spent the past couple of days in Washington, DC. Spanning from Monday, October 20th – Tuesday, October 21st we indulged in engaging dialogues with representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Sierra Club, and more. Our meetings were held in a conference room within the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), as Dickinson College is an affiliate. It was an incredible opportunity and experience to hear the range of perspectives alternating from climate scientists, economists, policy makers, and grass-roots movement leaders. It is safe to say that our delegation of students felt an extreme mixture of exhaustion and excitement by the end of our last meeting today. On Monday we met with Tom Lovejoy (United Nations Foundation and George Mason University), Daniel Reifsnyder (US Department of State), Jacob Scherr (National Resources Defense Council), Laura Petes (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy), and Jon Padgham (START). Today, we met with Mike MacCraken (Climate Institute), Dallas Burtraw (Resources for the Future), Liz Perera (Sierra Club), Joel Scheraga (US Environmental Protection Agency), and Keya Chatterjee (World Wildlife Fund).
Personally, these conversations have enhanced and further informed my understanding of global climate change.
It is especially clear that climate action is NOW.
I am so thankful for these individuals that found time in their busy schedules to meet with our delegation for these past couple of days in Washington, DC. This magnitude of engagement and conversation really sets the tone for our travels to the 20th Conference of the Parties in Lima, Peru under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). I can hardly wait. Cheers.
Here is a video of Brady Hummel and I speaking about our experiences this weekend: