Last spring, the City of Alexandria pledged to uphold the goals of the Paris Accord on Climate Change. The challenge in making this pledge a meaningful contribution is that Mayor Allison Silberberg, who is running for reelection, is the only city leader who understands that it is the millions of local actions that will make or break global efforts to curtail climate change.
Here, we have local Democrats voting symbolically on broad-brush policy issues while destroying the local natural environment through unchecked development. Here, one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in the world is behaving like a struggling Third World country by ignoring its own commitments. A recent 6-1 council decision approving the destruction of a 3-acre forested ravine — one of the last such parcels of its size in the city — is only the latest example of the doubletalk from city leaders. (Mayor Silberberg was the lone dissenter.)
Three acres of old forest may not seem like much, but it is part of the “death by 1,000 cuts” that has produced the increasingly intractable quandary humanity now finds itself in regarding the growing frequency and destructiveness of extreme weather events and other environmental changes experienced around the globe. Preserving old forests is scientifically recognized as one of the most effective ways to reduce emissions, improve water quality, and boost myriad other environmental indicators, but such facts are lost on the self-styled “Eco City” leaders of Alexandria.
Alexandria should be particularly concerned with sea level rise. As a recent article on melting glaciers noted, Antarctica’s glaciers contain enough water to potentially raise the oceans by 200 feet, a rise that would drown all of Old Town and Del Ray, the hilltop the iconic George Washington Masonic National Memorial sits on, and bring the coast right to the edge of the very property — near the highest ground in the city — that decision makers in Alexandria allowed to be destroyed.