Challenges the Jersey Coast faces post-Sandy and ways to better prepare for future storms, rising sea levels and other climate changes will be discussed in a unique debate-style forum being held in Ocean County later this month.

Jersey Shore Continues Sandy Recovery Efforts In Preparation For Summer Season
Homes in Ortley Beach, New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy hit. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

"We need to have some frank discussions about being prepared and what we want the coast to look at," said Stanton Hales, Jr., director of the Barnegat Bay Partnership. "We're in a position where a storm rolls ashore and there's tremendous damage, there's been loss of life, and we need to rethink land use along the coast. This is a way to help start those discussions so we can be smart and also prepare for a different future, and perhaps in some ways a better future."

"The Shore's Future: Living With Storms & Sea Level Rise" was convened by the Institute on Science for Global Policy (ISGP) and is being co-sponsored by the Barnegat Bay Partnership and the Barnegat Bay Foundation.

The ISGP has been trying to promote and connect different communities that face similar challenges from climate change to initiate conversation on the issue involving more people and diverse groups in the community, according to Hales.

The free, two-day conference seeks to link scientifically credible information to the formulation and implementation of sound, effective local policies.

Hales noted the conference will not lobby for any particular position or conclusion, but rather it will seek to provide the community with opportunities to express their views and challenge the conclusions of internationally recognized scientists and policy experts, with the goal of identifying common concerns and priorities.

ISGP put together a diverse panel of 30 to 40 people, including local officials, planning directors, business leaders and educators to debate presentations made by three subject-matter experts, according to Hales. The experts include: Thomas Knutson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Karen ONeill with Rutgers University and University of Miami Professor Harold Wanless.

"The purpose of having these outside experts come in is just to kind of cue up these conversations and present some different ideas that everybody can respond to, and it's not to say it's necessarily the solution, but hopefully it promotes some honest conversation and leads in some different directions," Hales said.

The public will have a chance to submit questions as well during the debate.

The forum takes place from Nov. 20 to 21. On Nov. 20, participants meet at the Toms River Municipal Building. On Nov. 21, the conference will convene at the Ocean County College Gateway Building Lecture Hall.

Registration and an invitation is required for entry. Participants must attend both days. For more information click here or call 520-343-8181.

"The Shore's Future" is part of the ISGP Climate Change Arctic Program (ICCAP) that is engaging communities around the U.S. in local climate change conversations. ISGP conferences have been convened in throughout the country including Florida, Arizona and California.


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