WILTON, Conn. -- Many of the country’s treasured national landmarks and archaeological sites are being threatened by climate change, says a report co-written by a Wilton resident that was released Tuesday.
Adam Markham, co-author of “National Landmarks at Risk,” is director of climate impacts for the Union of Concerned Scientists. About a year ago, the UCS commissioned the study of an area in which there was little public knowledge.
“There are a lot of threats from climate change and people really know very little about it,” Markham said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “We wanted to shed a spotlight on an issue that nobody is talking about.”
The group released the report in Washington, D.C.
Many sites, including national landmarks in New York City, face danger from increasing wildfires, rising sea levels and flooding, Markham said, pointing to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York Harbor.
Both sustained tremendous damage during Superstorm Sandy. Although individual storms can’t be blamed on climate change, Markham said climate change is behind the increasing frequency and ferocity of those storms.
“What we know is that there are many more storms in the Northeast in the last 30 years due to climate change. We are getting much heavier rain, and I think we are seeing that in Wilton,” he said.
Markham, a 10-year Wilton resident and a biologist by training, said he, like many scientists, is frustrated that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that much of the climate change is human made.
Even those who contest the science evidence will have to face the consequences of climate change, he said.
“It is still going to flood your basement,” he said. "Disbelief doesn’t get in the way of climate change.”
The UCS is a nonprofit alliance of more than 400,000 scientists and nonscientists based in Cambridge, Mass.
Markham's group drew on research from NASA and the National Parks Service as well as other scientific evidence collected through the years. He also pointed to a recent White House report on climate change as an example of the science that supports the climate change consensus.
The release of the report was timed before the Memorial Day weekend because many people will be visiting national landmarks, including those highlighted in the report, Markham said.
Much of the country’s history is at risk, the report says, including Jamestown, Va., the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, which is likely to be submerged by the end of the century.
The Harriet Tubman Underground National Monument in Cambridge, Md., is also facing the threat of rising sea levels.
It is not only water that is a threat, he said. Climate change is also causing dry conditions in the Western part of the country, increasing the risk of fires that can destroy archaeological sites and important landmarks.
For more information and to read the full report, visit the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists.