Leave aside, for the moment, the arguments that skeptics, including the President of the United States, continue to wage about whether climate change really is occurring.
Take a trip in stormy weather onto Seconsett Island, where Patricia Peters has had a home since the 1950s.
Simply put: The seawater is encroaching. Earlier this month the strong southwest winds—themselves an anomaly that has developed in recent winters—pushed seawater over the seawall and splashing through her window into her house.
That, she said, was unprecedented.
Ms. Peters will tell you of other changes that have come to Seconsett. She can tell, looking at the seawall, how the sea level has risen since she was a child at the home. She can tell you how it’s no longer necessary to light a fire in October, the traditional start of scallop season. She can tell you that the summer breeze has disappeared, that summer itself is getting hotter and hotter.
All real-life observations of changes over time: a Mashpee microcosm of climate change.
But, again, put the theoretical debate off to the side.
Something is going on out there. And whether the cause is carbon emissions from the burgeoning human race or little green men in an invisible spaceship wreaking havoc, coastal communities such as Mashpee have to start devising real-world responses to threats like seawater flooding.
Hence the value of the municipality vulnerability study prepared for the Town of Mashpee by the Woods Hole Group, part of a wider state program that acknowledges that Massachusetts hasn’t been and won’t be spared from the impact of global carbon emissions.
Mashpee is in the planning stages of the program. Once the final report is submitted to the state and certified, the town will be eligible for state grants to use on projects to increase climate resilience.
Among the particularly vulnerable parts of the town identified in the report are municipal infrastructure near the coast, areas such as Popponesset Spit and South Cape Beach, and the Seconsett Island Causeway.
Actions identified in the report that the town can take include elevating the causeway, reducing the size of the South Cape Beach parking lot and replacing it with a shuttle system, and retrofitting municipal buildings.
On February 13 a listening session was held at the Mashpee Public Library on the study. Among those participating was Carol Finn of Surf Drive.
Ms. Finn, who told of experiencing flooding while driving down Red Brook Road, questions whether the global community will take action to curb climate change.
But Ms. Finn said that, by driving a hybrid vehicle, she is doing what she can to heal the environment.
She sets a good example. And so does the Town of Mashpee by pursuing the vulnerability study and the potential grants to address real-world impacts.
Because something is going on out there.