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October 3, 2013

Environmental activist to speak on climate change

NEWBURYPORT — The Greater Newburyport Public Forum will present writer and environmental activist William Sargent on Wednesday, Oct. 9. He will speak, offer slides and lead discussion on the subject of the impact of climate change on the local coastline, with special reference to Plum Island.

With the vulnerability of dwellings situated on barrier islands so apparent — as demonstrated by the losses suffered on Plum Island recently — this timely presentation speaks to the need for coastal communities to take the threat of rising waters into serious account in future planning.

In past years, Sargent has focused on comparable coastal events in Chatham, the subject of some of his prolific writing on coastal natural matters. Two of his most recent books are “Beach Wars: 10,000 Years of Conflict and Change on a Barrier Beach”; and “The View from Strawberry Hill: Reflections on the Hottest Year on Record.” These and others of his books will be available for purchase at the event.

The perspective that Sargent brings from his writing to his address focuses on the role of some 200 barrier beach islands that stretch along the East Coast, from New England to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. These islands constitute a string of natural breakwaters, crucial to protecting a coastline from the ravages of sea level rise.

As a consultant to the PBS Nova Series, Sargent has advocated for the long range perspective of the rise and fall of these aforementioned islands in the face of forces of erosion and natural change over thousands of years.

As the director of a modest effort to apply science, The Coastlines Program, Sargent has made the effort to extend understanding of changes taking place in the natural environment in practical ways. It will be in the context of this approach that the presentation on Oct. 9 will be made.

Time will be made for questions and answers, and discussion.

The forum will be held at 7 p.m. at the Program Room of the Newburyport Public Library. The event is free and open to the public.

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