Growing Returns

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My perspectives on how we can inspire the next generation of Black climate leaders.

By Arianna Mackey, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Summer 2022 Intern

I became aware of my community’s lack of environmental awareness at a very young age. Growing up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, my family and I visited the Nauticus museum often. One afternoon, after spending time in the flooding exhibit, I explained to my mom that due to increased flooding, Virginia Beach would be inhabitable in the future, with standing water reaching the front door following a storm. She brushed me off by saying it was an “over-exaggeration” and our community was fine. That encounter piqued my interest in environmentalism. Read More »

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Virginia’s Legislature made progress on flood resilience in 2022, but significant work remains.

Last month, a Nor’easter left parts of Hampton Roads flooded for days, disrupting transit and damaging property. This situation is a reality for a growing number of Virginians who are experiencing more intense and frequent flooding due to rising sea levels and heavier precipitation.

Without action, coastal flood damages are expected to cost Virginia $5.1 billion annually by 2080, which is why its leaders must use every tool in the toolbox to match the scale of challenges facing people across the Commonwealth.

While Virginia’s General Assembly concluded its 2022 legislative session with several successes, more work is needed – particularly in securing long-term funding for flood resilience, to protect people and natural resources from flood threats now and in the future.

Here are three key takeaways from Virginia’s legislative session relating to flood resilience. Read More »

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Nearly 1 million Virginians are at risk of flooding by 2080. The state just released a plan to address that risk.

Last week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam released the commonwealth’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan, the result of a multiyear effort to guide action to address flood risk to better protect communities, businesses and vital natural resources against sea level rise and climate change.

Here are four ways the plan provides a foundation and path forward for Virginia to comprehensively meet the urgency of its flood crisis in a coordinated, equitable way.

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Virginia Beach’s new flood bond can be a model for other cities. Here’s how.

Virginia Beach, the most populous city in the commonwealth with 38 miles of shoreline, faces increasing flood risk due to rising sea levels and more intense storms. Recurrent flooding hurts critical sectors including the military and tourism, both major contributors to the local economy. 

Fortunately, Virginia Beach voters took an important step to reduce flood risk in their community by passing a historic $567.5 million flood mitigation bond last month. This funding will not only reduce the city’s flood risk — it will also boost the economy and create thousands of jobs. 

As other cities across the country grapple with how to pay for the increasing costs of flood protection projects, here are four ways this bond serves as a model for success.  Read More »

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