The streets of many of Boston’s neighborhoods including the Back Bay, Kenmore Square, East Boston and Logan Airport would be flooded and the devastation would be enormous if a superstorm like Sandy slammed into Boston.
A “What If Sandy Happened Here” forum held recently at Faneuil Hall in Boston brought scientists, politicians and environmentalists together to discuss the impact of climate change and its potential consequences.
For years scientists have sounded the alarm about the role of climate change and flooding due to rising sea levels and extreme weather events.
At the town-hall forum attended by about 150 people, color-coded maps prepared by the Boston Harbor Association illustrated how much and what areas would be flooded if a severe storm hit.
Scientists predict that Boston area sea levels will rise by two feet by 2050 and six feet by 2100.
Congressman Ed Markey hosted the Faneuil Hall forum and an emergency meeting in Arlington in early November and says Sandy was a wake up call.
Just days before the 1,000 mile superstorm was getting ready to devastate parts of the east coast in late October, the Malden Democrat released a report detailing the economic impact of climate change.
Among the findings; ocean temperatures in the Northeast during the first half of 2012 were the warmest on record which can fuel stronger storms, rates of sea-level rise from North Carolina to Massachusetts are up four times than the global average and extreme rain and snowstorms have increased by 85 percent since 1948.
Markey co-authored a bill back in 2009 which would have overhauled environmental policies but failed to pass the Senate.
Boston Harbor Association Executive Director Julie Wormser says climate change brings more extreme weather events and higher sea levels.
“Imagine Boston Harbor is a bathtub. Boston’s waterfront was built to withstand only a certain amount of water in the tub or the harbor and a certain amount of water sloshing around the tub or seawalls caused by winds, storms and tides. Because the ocean is heating up it is elevating the amount of water in the bathtub. Eventually, because of storms like Sandy, we’ll see more flooding and damage,” said Wormser.
President of the Environmental League of Massachusetts George Bachrach introduced the speakers at the event and says if people don’t understand the environmental issues, they’ll certainly understand the pocketbook issues.
“This is an economic issue. Look at the destruction and loss in New York. Some businesses still aren’t back. There were billions of dollars in losses to the insurance industry which means premiums will rise,” said Bachrach.
“Massachusetts is a national leader dealing with issues of climate change,” said Bachrach.
With miles of coastline, the city of Boston is vulnerable if a superstorm hit. A spokesman for Mayor Menino, Carl Spector, says as a result of an order signed by the Mayor, agencies have been working together and with the state for years on how to grapple with climate change issues.