Right now, our country—and the world—are experiencing a heightened awareness and acceptance of the scientific consensus regarding climate change. Two recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly establish the scientific consensus that climate change is happening, that human activities are influencing climate, and that the consequences could be disastrous.
With the potential for accelerated sea level rise and an increase in the severity of extreme weather events, there is every indication that our nation's coastal areas will be among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Many of our island territories and coastal states are already feeling the effects of gradual sea level rise and an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events.
This stimulates important questions for coastal resource managers concerning their role and priorities in the nation's climate enterprise.
We at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coastal Services Center are busy creating our climate strategic plan and establishing a climate team to work to bring stakeholders together, translate climate science into coastal management tools, and help advance climate adaptation tools and strategies in the coastal arena.
The Center recently worked with the NOAA Climate Program and other NOAA offices to host a workshop for Sea Grant extension and outreach staff members to explore how the national Sea Grant network can facilitate climate science and use it to inform coastal decision making.
Climate change will be a topic at Coastal Zone 07 in Portland, and the National Estuarine Research Reserves are making climate change the focus of their annual meeting. Many state coastal managers also are wrestling with issues related to climate change.
One of those issues is the push for sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels, which produce atmospheric emissions responsible for ocean acidification and greenhouse gasses. As a result, coastal managers are seeing permit applications for projects they have never seen before, such as wave energy, geothermal energy, and offshore wind energy.The cover story of this edition of Coastal Services looks at the approaches Massachusetts and Texas are taking to address offshore wind energy proposals. As our story illustrates, we have to balance the urgent need for renewable energy with the potential environmental impacts these facilities may cause.
-- Margaret A. Davidson