Grad Profile: Pursuing an End to Inequality in Public Education
Gwen Baxley was a high school student in a Jersey City charter school when she discovered the messy reality of public school funding....
Rutgers Study Shows Depleted Fish Stocks Can Come Back from the Brink
Fish stocks that have been depleted for decades can find their own way back to healthy levels if timely limits are put on their catch, Rutgers scientists say.
- Business and Economics;
- Environment / Meteorology/Climatology;
- Politics, Law and Public Policy / Planning and Redevelopment;
- Politics, Law and Public Policy / Public Health Issues, Policy;
- Politics, Law and Public Policy / Transportation
Adapting to Climate Change Now
A new alliance at Rutgers is focused on dealing with the imminent effects of a volatile climate
On the heels of a year marked by record- breaking heat, record-setting floods, and a freak October snowstorm that left more than a million people without power, a group of Rutgers faculty and staff say the world is starting to see the consequences of climate change. And we need to deal with it now.
While other efforts have focused on mitigation – reducing the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change – a new alliance at Rutgers is focused on identifying ways to adapt to changes in the climate that threaten New Jersey’s agriculture, economy, and way of life.
“You have to be pretty dense not to realize there is something going on with the climate and we are experiencing it right now,’’ said James W. Hughes, dean of Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
“From a public policy perspective we should be prepared to adapt to whatever types of climate change are coming because it’s going to impact the environment, it’s certainly going to impact the economy, and it’s going to impact public health.’’
The New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance is led by Jeanne Herb, a research program administrator at the Bloustein School, and Marjorie Kaplan, associate director of Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. The idea was initially spearheaded by PSEG, which approached Rutgers about building the alliance and awarded a $50,000 grant. The Gallagher Family Fund also provided $7,500 to help launch the project.
The alliance is working to develop a partnership that reflects the range of interests in the state – from the business community, insurance industry, health experts to engineers, environmentalists, and climatologists. The goal is to recommend policy changes based on science.
“There is no coordinated effort in the state to look at what we need to do to be prepared, and there is potential for economic devastation in many different sectors if we don’t,’’ said Herb, who worked at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, along with Kaplan, and outside state government before coming to Rutgers.
Kaplan suggested that cities should be prepared to help senior citizens deal with more frequent heat emergencies. The health care industry should be prepared for increases in asthma and allergies, and the state for storm surges that could devastate our infrastructure.
Hughes said the response could include building new roadways and light rail lines higher, better protecting utility lines from storms, and reconsidering where we allow development.
Steps to reduce the use of fossil fuels and amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere are slow interventions that take a long time to take effect, said Robert M. Goodman, executive dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.
Goodman said the goal of the alliance is to take steps that can have an immediate impact.
“We don’t know how much sea level will rise, how much temperatures will increase, what the ferocity of storms and weather will be, but we are pretty sure it’s going to happen, so adaptation is something that you do now,’’ Goodman said.
Kaplan recognizes the challenge of convincing residents and businesses to take early action. But she cautioned that it will be harder to react to climate change in the future than it is to start planning now.
“The years 2030,2040,2050 all sound really far away, but for our children they are not,’’ Kaplan said. “When we build infrastructure, we don’t build it for the next four or five years. We are building for a longer lifespan so we have to be responsible about that.’’
Read the op-ed on climate change by Deans Hughes and Goodman that appeared in February 23 The Star-Ledger here.
Media Contact: Andrea Alexander
732-932-7084 ext. 615
Contact: Jeanne Herb
Contact: Marjorie Kaplan