Since 1991, Boston has experienced 21 events that triggered federal or state disaster declarations. For example, in 2011, Hurricane Irene caused downed trees and power outages across the city. In 2012, while Boston was spared the most devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy due to the storm missing Boston’s high tide by five hours, the city still experienced high winds and coastal flooding. As the climate changes, the likelihood of coastal and riverine flooding—as well as other hazards, like stormwater flooding and extreme heat—will increase. The challenges from climate change are substantial and complex but can be addressed through bold and creative actions that support the city’s vitality and livability. Boston can thrive in the coming decades if it takes action to adapt its people, its neighborhoods, and its economic and cultural assets, starting now. This work will be difficult, contentious, and complex. But if done well, it will not only create a resilient, climate-ready Boston, it will also dramatically improve the city and quality of life for all its residents.
BIO: Austin Blackmon
Austin Blackmon is the Chief of the City of Boston’s Environment, Energy, and Open Space cabinet. He represented Boston at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, where the city received a C40 award for Smart Cities and Smart Community Engagement.