A powerful storm surge could put some of Boston’s most beloved landscapes under water if global warming isn’t addressed, according to state elected officials.
“Many of Boston’s neighborhoods and landmarks are built in areas that are highly susceptible to flooding and extreme weather. As temperatures and sea levels rise, and storms become more severe, many of Boston’s best-known landmarks will be threatened,” said Congressman Ed Markey, during a press conference this week to address the ongoing climate changes New England is facing.
Markey said areas like North Station, Fan Pier, and Quincy Market could get gobbled up by water overtime as Massachusetts feels the devastating impacts of climate change and the extreme weather as a result.
He said Massachusetts, on average, loses 2.8 million square feet of land each year due to rising sea levels—a rate that is three to four times higher than the global average.
“Global warming isn’t a distant threat to Massachusetts,” said Markey. “It is our reality right now.”
Markey, who was joined by representatives from the New England Aquarium, as well as Doctor Ellen Douglas, a professor at UMass Boston and an expert on the issue of global warming, said the changes are not only affecting Boston’s land, but also its economy.
“Increased food prices from the [national] drought act like an extreme weather food tax on every single American and it’s hitting people where it hurts the most in Massachusetts—in the wallet,” he said. “Even if the heat wave has broken in your state your cupboard may be emptier as you have to make hard choices at the grocery store.”
July was the hottest recorded month in the 48 states since record keeping began in 1895, and follows 2011, when the country experienced a record-breaking 14 weather disasters each causing billions in damage.
Mild winters are also allegedly causing negative effects to trickle down the chain.
With New England winters four degrees warmer on average— something Markey called “a phenomenon that’s moving at an intensifying rate”—more rodents are able to breed.
In Somerville, officials have been battling a rat infestation in certain neighborhoods; partly do to nests not being killed off by the bitter winter storms.
“The mild winter has had an effect because you don’t get the big weather die-off that usually happens,” said Somerville City Spokesman Tom Champion.
Champion said the rat problem is worse than previous years, and other factors are in involved, such as people not covering their trash properly.
As for Boston’s neighborhoods going underwater, Douglas said the threat of rising sea levels could cause up to six feet of flooding in South Boston, the Back Bay, Dorchester and some of the South End.
“Climate change is already being observed and observations we are making are very much in line with what scientists have been saying,” said Douglas. “It’s changing the character of New England.”