By Mon Cochran
Dateline: May 22, 2050
Commonwealth engineers met today with the Selectmen from Orleans and Eastham to discuss the design of a Rt. 6 bridge spanning Jeremiah’s Gutter, also known as the Outer Cape Canal. During the past several years the Rt. 6 rotary on the Orle-ans/Eastham line has repeatedly flooded at high tide, caused by sea water flowing from Cape Cod Bay into Town Cove. Scientists predict that the steady annual increases in sea level that have occurred over the past thirty years will continue through the rest of the 21st Century.
Old timers in Orleans remember that earlier in the century there was a lot of talk about shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy as a source of energy, and powering our cars, trucks, and buses with electricity. Back in 2018 there was even a proposal to build a big wind farm in federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard. Unfortunately a combination of the powerful fossil fuel lobby and an Administration in Washington that denied the reality of human caused climate change put the kibosh on that possibility.
Orleans/Eastham Rotary with 6 Feet of Sea Level Rise
Sea level rise calculator, Cape Cod Commission, May 15, 2018
HISTORICAL NOTE: Jeremiah’s Gutter was a going concern between 1717 and the 19th Century, used by the Colonial settlers on the way to the wrecked pirate ship Whydah and by privateers eluding the British during the War of 1812.
Dateline: TODAY, May 25, 2018
Will articles like the one above, with accompanying map, run in the Cape Codder and the Cape Cod Times thirty years from now? The answer may well be yes unless we cut way back on our use of fossil fuels and transition rapidly to clean energy as the power supply for our homes, factories, and means of transportation.
The good news is that an exciting new ocean-based wind farm is being proposed for the waters south of the Cape, 14 miles from the nearest shore. If approved the power gen-erated by the farm will actually pass through the Cape on the way to the mainland, put-ting us at the forefront of the U.S. clean energy revolution. Vineyard Wind, the company proposing to build the first new wind farm, has set as a goal that 100% of its operations and maintenance staff be Martha’s Vineyard residents within five years of the project being operational. And because the mid Cape has been chosen as the place where the transmission cable will come ashore, host community agreement negotiations are under way that are expected to provide millions of dollars to the communities that host the connection infrastructure (Yarmouth and/or Barnstable).
It is also worth noting that Massachusetts ranks among the top 10 U.S. states in amount of solar energy generated per capita, and behind only California in number jobs created by solar energy companies.
This information is provided by the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative, a non-profit staffed by volunteers that is organized to provide Cape and Islands residents and organizations with information about how to reduce our regional carbon footprint and ways of working together toward a clean energy future. Our website, capecodcli-mate.org, includes a sea level rise calculator that shows you how sea level increases will affect your personal property. Take a look, and then scan the list of ways to reduce your own carbon footprint. Let’s all work together toward a fossil fuel free future.
-Mon Cochran resides in Orleans and is Executive Director of the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative.