Guest Commentary: Let’s get on board with climate change solutions


Former Delaware State News reporter Mark Nardone is the director of advocacy for the Delaware Nature Society.

Fenwick Island is a place my family has loved for more than eight decades. Imagine the changes over 80 years.

In my time, we’ve seen Coastal Highway expand from two lanes to four, with a disproportionately large increase in traffic. Once sleepy Lighthouse Road, now elevated above flood stage, has become a major travel route. We’ve watched two islands in Assawoman Bay wash away. I’m on my third Indian River Inlet bridge, which seems to be perpetually at risk from a receding shoreline. With each memory, it’s become more evident that the narrow barrier island that supports Fenwick will eventually be engulfed by the sea.

At a time in this nation when the subject of climate change has become dangerously divisive, in Delaware, it is clear: We recognize it as real. What’s more, an overwhelming majority of us support state action to address it.

According to bipartisan polling recently conducted by The Nature Conservancy in Delaware:

  • Three in 5 Delaware voters are concerned about climate change.
  • Three in 5 Delaware voters believe the state should do more to respond to climate change.
  • The climate impacts voters are most concerned about are challenges for farmers, such as drought and heat (84%) and poor air quality (83%).
  • Seventy percent or more of us are concerned about the loss of our beautiful beaches, flooding and sea level rise.
  • Finally, 78% of us believe we can have a clean environment and a strong economy.

We now have a historic opportunity to begin significant government action by passing House Bill 99, the Climate Change Solutions Act. The bill sets goals for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, requires regular updates of the state’s Climate Action Plan and requires all state agencies to factor climate change into their planning and procurement decisions.

Members of the Delaware Nature Society, along with concerned citizens and other local environmental organizations, will gather on Legislative Mall on Tuesday to show our support for HB 99. Join us. Delaware needs this bill to pass now. Yet passage is only the first of many actions we need to ensure a safe climate future.

We need to rethink land use by curbing sprawl and making our towns walkable, cooler, more energy efficient and greener with plant life. We need to curb development in areas that can buffer us from coastal floods. We need to increase funding to acquire open spaces and create new models for managing them. Our infrastructure and heavy industrial sites must be stormproofed.

Our energy technologies must be diversified. We need to reduce the number of cars on our roads. And, as cliche as it may sound, we need to protect our trees. They lock up carbon. They provide oxygen. They shade and cool us. They provide natural beauty and clean water. Preserving them is much more effective than planting new ones (though you should plant all the trees you want). The Nature Conservancy poll shows that Delaware voters overwhelmingly support protecting forests, as well as wetlands. Let’s put stronger protections in place.

Change can be hard. Some of the changes we need are big, and they cause no small amount of anxiety and fear. Some only seem big. The Climate Change Solutions Act offers some relief. It would put us on a statutory path to a safer future, and it would do something more: It would make our state government a leader and guide for county and local governments, which, in turn, can write creative new ordinances that work best in their communities.

These are only some of the reasons those of us who love Delaware’s lands and water are gathering Tuesday to show support for the Climate Change Solutions Act. We plan a day that will be informational, inspirational, impactful and fun, with more than a dozen experts slated to speak about the effects of climate change on our economy, our shorelines and waterways, environmental justice and more. Come out to hear them, and please consider joining us in the movement for a safer, healthier Delaware.

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.