Effects of climate change in my backyard

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Effects of climate change in my backyard

Sunday morning, September 21, Rita Renee Toll-Dubois and her lifelong partner Ranger Jean Rogers of Lynn, quietly boarded one of the many Cambridge buses heading to the People's Climate Change March in New York City. Toll-Dubois carried a placard made from a simple piece of undecorated white cardboard paper—one that wouldn't normally grab your attention until you read it.

"The water has risen.
Tidal River overflows knee-deep up to 1 1/2 block away.
Lynn MA”

Just 10 miles north of downtown Boston, residents of seacoast Lynn have been feeling the effects of climate change for well over a decade. "In the past 10 years we have already had two ‘11-year’ floods, the first of which ruined numerous cellars of many of our neighbors. The water was up to a car’s door handle as we could see from the car that was caught in the rising waters," Toll-Dubois told me.

Heavy rains in Lynn saturate the soil, flood storm drains that flood the city streets. But the city of Lynn is not alone.

Coastal cities like New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Boston are just a few of the many Northeast cities now experiencing the violent vicissitudes of global climate change with its increasing rainfall, and coastal flooding.

Toll-Dubois and Rogers "live a block and a vacant field from the river." As shorelines sink and cause sea levels to rise, they worry about their flood insurance—with premiums that have spiked several times  since Hurricane Katrina in 2005—and their safety, too.

"This past winter, when a high tide and a storm surge combined, the river overflowed its banks and as the ground was frozen and therefore could absorb no water, the river flooded all the way down the block and into the main street in front of our house so we were encircled by knee--deep icy river water." Toll-Dubois carefully explained.

Boston's revered New England Aquarium and its tourist hot spots—Public Garden, John Hancock Tower, Quincy Market, Copley Church and Faneuil Hall, to name a few—are not out of harms way. These landmarks are all built landmasses and areas highly susceptible to flooding, too.

Just last month, on September 6, Ipswich—a coastal town just 29 miles north of Boston— experienced a microburst—sudden, powerful and intense downdraft. The microburst knocked down trees, tore off roofs, and downed power lines. Two