Catalyst Summer 2014

[FIRST PRINCIPLES]

The Places We Cherish

By Ken Kimmell

One of the highlights of my summer comes on a clear night in August when my family and friends gather on a stretch of Cape Cod beach to light a bonfire—with a permit, of course (after all, I come to UCS after serving as commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection). We swim in the ocean lit by the moon, dry ourselves around the fire, and enjoy a magical moment under the stars in a place my family and I treasure.

I’ve often thought about what a gift President Kennedy gave the nation when he signed a law designating a stunning 40-mile stretch of Cape Cod’s coastline as a protected national seashore. It distresses me to think that sea level rise and erosion from storm surges, exacerbated by global warming, are threatening this special place.

Our cover story, “National Landmarks at Risk," offers a dire warning and wake-up call about the climate impacts happening now at iconic American places such as Ellis Island (still recovering from Hurricane Sandy) and the cave dwellings of Mesa Verde in Colorado (at heightened risk from wildfires).

Global warming threatens thousands of places that hold personal meaning for each of us. I hope you will share this article with your family and friends, and join our efforts to protect the places you cherish for future generations.

Ken Kimmell is president of UCS.