Commission fritters as world burns
Astonishing juxtaposition turns newspaper into an ironic board
By Walter Brooks
If you appreciate irony, I suggest you plunk down 75 cents at the corner store and buy today's Cape Cod Times. If you're frugal, just look at the stack of newspapers at the store or the reproduction on the right.
On the left side of the front page is an article, actually the third article in four days, about new lengths the Cape Cod Commission is going through to mount legal challenges against Cape Wind and the State Agencies who had the audacity to approve Cape Wind permits. Today's headline is, "Wind farm key permit challenged, Commission says state siting board lacks authority to overturn denial".
OK, here's the ironic part.
The entire top of the same front page of today's Cape Cod Times, directly above the Cape Cod Commission story, is a picture of Boston Harbor with the headline in big bold black letters, "Warming could swamp Northeast, Study concludes sea level rise will be greatest and most dangerous here."
Will you, the Cape Cod taxpayer, allow the Cape Cod Commission to continue to spend your money, and their time and attention, fighting what would be the greatest local initiative to try to prevent the worst ravages of global warming? This happens to be the greatest threat to our natural environment here on Cape Cod, and our outdated and unnecessary CC Commission is being the problem, rather than the solution.
How much does Mr. Wodlinger bill the Commission, and ultimately us, for his services in this crusade?
Tilting at windmills is being paid for by taxpayers
The Cape Cod Commission seems to be sparing no expense to tilt at these windmills, and they are represented by Eric Wodlinger, a top shelf, top dollar, leading Boston law firm lawyer to devise creative legal strategies to put the Cape Cod Commission in the vanguard of the anti-Cape Wind fight. You have to devise creative legal strategies when your case is weak, which is what the Commission's case is.
But at what cost? How much does Mr. Wodlinger bill the Commission, and ultimately us, for his services in this crusade?
The Sound's two greatest threats: Global Warming and Cape Cod Commission
Getting back to the article on top of the Cape Cod Times front page today, I've heard scientists from Woods Hole to Provincetown say the greatest threat to Nantucket Sound is global warming and I believe them.
But I would put it another way. From the perspective of the citizen-taxpayers who live on this 70-mile sand spit the greatest threat is the rising waters of Nantucket Sound itself (and the bays) as they are poised to get a whole lot higher. The now dry lands the rising saltwater will cover represents the best beaches we have as well as the toniest oceanfront real estate.
The gist of today's article is that because of the effects of our pumping greenhouse gas emissions into the sky from our smokestacks and tailpipes, global warming will make our sea level rise 8 or so inches above the global average rise of 2 to 3 feet during this century.
Try this simple experiment yourself
Stand on your favorite Cape beach on the next nice day at high tide so that the furthest reach of the incoming waves are reaching your toes.
Now imagine you are also are holding a yardstick in your hand.
When scientists talk about sea level rising 2-3 feet they don't mean that water is reaching 3 feet behind where you are standing, they mean you should stand that yardstick straight up and that water is now at the top of it.
So look behind you and see how far back you have to go before the land is as high as the top of your yardstick; that will be the new high tide mark, on a calm day.
The beaches we save will be our own
"Building Cape Wind is like taking 175,000 cars off the road each year." - Ian Bowles
As our planet warms the ice in places like Greenland and Antarctica melt and the water molecules of the ocean also get a little bigger and take up more space, and here on the Cape the land is also gradually sinking so the true estimates are even higher for the "relative" sea level rise we will experience.
Many will be quick to say and I will agree with them, that this wind farm out in Nantucket Sound won't "solve" global warming. The answer is there is no one thing that will solve this problem.
The scientists around the world working on this problem, including those right here on Woods Hole, say that we need a planetary response, and that all regions of the world must change the way they use energy and rapidly reduce the amount of carbon we're putting into the air.
Let me put it another way, it isn't like you're sitting in a restaurant with a menu to pick the thing you can live with to confront this problem, rather, it's like maybe you can pick one thing you most don't want, but you then have to order everything else on the menu: conserve, be more efficient, and use as much clean renewable energy and as little coal and oil as possible.
Oh, and get moving on this in a big way, like yesterday.
Count ourselves lucky to see the wind turbines from some of our beaches. That sight will remind us that we are not powerless.
Massachusetts Energy and Environment Secretary Ian Bowles, who grew up on Cape Cod, says that building Cape Wind is like taking 175,000 cars off the road each year in reduced greenhouse gas emissions for our area.
I'd say that's a pretty good start. I think we're lucky that on a clear day we'll be able to see the wind turbines from some of our beaches. That sight will remind us that we are not powerless, that we can do things to help protect the beaches we're standing on from our ever expanding oceans, we can build clean energy and we can use that energy more efficiently and wisely.
Cape Wind is emerging strong from eight years of federal and state review and the project makes more sense now than ever. We can sure use the good paying jobs it and other clean energy projects will provide.
Instead of throwing good money after bad on expensive lawyers to fight against clean energy it's time for the Commission to help the Cape face up to its biggest challenge, getting washed away along with our beaches.
Do something today to stop the waste
Call or email the Cape Cod Commission and tell them to stop wasting your money and their time in a futile fight to stop what America needs to free us from dependence on imported oil. The number is (508) 362-3828, and the Executive Director's email is Paul Niedzwiecki, ([email protected])