Impending Disaster Demands Action

For more than 40 years, power plants were the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. But since the early 2000s, generation of electricity has become less carbon-intensive with the growth of wind and solar and a switch to natural gas. Despite this switch in the sources of emission, the situation is not good. Cars, trucks, aircraft, and shipping emissions jumped in about 2016 and have continued to climb. That will only get worse if climate denier-in-chief President Trump’s promised rollback of fuel-efficiency standards is allowed to go into effect.

A United Nations scientific group released a frightening report this month that the worst consequences of climate change would be felt much sooner than had been anticipated. Among the threats are food shortages, wildfires, massive changes to the natural environment, and the displacement of 50 million people by floods, all within a generation. Even people who work in the field of climate change described the report as a bitter shock. 

For coastal Long Island, the implications are dire. With the anticipated atmospheric temperature increase, sea level rise will inundate the shoreline by 2040 — much sooner than previously thought. Large areas of the East End towns and the South Shore will have to be abandoned. It is not a stretch to say that East Hampton’s lucrative status as a summer resort would be upended unless steps are taken right now. 

Stopping the impending global disaster will require reversing emissions trends. The use of coal as an electricity source will have to go. This brings us back to alternative energy. East Hampton Town has the first solar facility, off Accabonac Road in Amagansett. New York State is cooperating with corporations to install wind turbines offshore. Notably, Deepwater Wind’s turbines would tie into the Long Island electric grid in East Hampton and be the first in the state. 

Those who are framing Deepwater as not beneficial to the East End miss the point. In the context of nearly unimaginable climate disruptions within our lifetimes, knee-jerk opposition would be laughable if the permanent disruption of our community’s economy were not at stake. It is worth noting that the League of Conservation Voters ranks Representative Lee Zeldin in the bottom 10 percent of all members of Congress on climate change.

Offshore wind may have its flaws; few large power sources do not. But Deepwater is a small part of an essential effort to actually save life on Earth as we know it.