Rhode Island is thickly settled and full of old buildings. If you want to build a new building, you have to tear something else down—either woodlands and meadowlands that help absorb our carbon emissions, or an existing building. Our historic buildings are a useful tool in fighting climate change, because maintaining them causes significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than building them from scratch. The Energize RI bill, described in the “Carbon Pricing” section, includes a provision for creating jobs in construction and weatherization.
Climate change threatens the 18th century system of port towns and villages around Narragansett Bay. Failure to act sets up the flooding of Newport, Bristol, Warren, and Wickford, all of which have low-lying historic waterfronts, and multigenerational beach communities like Roy Carpenter’s Beach. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing climate change is well within the mission of Rhode Island’s historical societies and preservation organizations.