Mayor spars with Gore over cli­mate

Says that ero­sion makes is­land sink

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO -

TANG­IER, VA. | An en­thu­si­as­tic sup­porter of the pres­i­dent who is mayor of a Vir­ginia is­land that’s sink­ing into Ch­e­sa­peake Bay got a chance to chal­lenge for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore on cli­mate change dur­ing a town hall Tues­day night.

Tang­ier Is­land Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge told Mr. Gore that ero­sion is the real cul­prit for his shrink­ing is­land, not sea level rise.

“I’m not a sci­en­tist, but I’m a keen observer. If sea level rise is oc­cur­ring, why am I not see­ing signs of it?” Mr. Eskridge asked dur­ing the town hall that aired on CNN.

Par­tic­i­pants had screened Mr. Gore’s new doc­u­men­tary, “An Inconvenient Se­quel: Truth to Power,” a fol­low-up to his 2006 Os­car-win­ning film.

The for­mer vice pres­i­dent said he was sorry for what the is­land’s res­i­dents are go­ing through and re­it­er­ated sci­en­tific find­ings, say­ing sci­en­tists fore­cast an­other 2 feet of sea level rise.

“One of the chal­lenges of this is­sue is tak­ing what the sci­en­tists say and trans­lat­ing it into terms that are be­liev­able to peo­ple where they can see the con­se­quences in their own lives,” Mr. Gore said.

Sci­en­tists say Tang­ier Is­land is erod­ing into the bay while sea lev­els are ris­ing against its shores. Stud­ies pre­dict its dwin­dling pop­u­la­tion of 460 peo­ple may have to aban­don Tang­ier in 25 to 50 years — if not sooner.

But Mr. Eskridge, 58, a life­long water­man who har­vests crabs from the bay, was among the 87 per­cent of vot­ers in this deeply spir­i­tual com­mu­nity who sup­ported Don­ald Trump.

When CNN aired a seg­ment on Tang­ier’s plight in June, Mr. Eskridge told me­te­o­rol­o­gist Jennifer Gray: “I love Trump as much as any fam­ily mem­ber I got.”

Mr. Eskridge and oth­ers believe that ero­sion, not sea-level rise, is the real threat be­cause they can see it. And they believe in­fras­truc­ture, such as a sea wall around the is­land, can save it.

“The ero­sion that’s tak­ing place you can al­most see every week, every month for sure,” he told The Associated Press in May.

Dur­ing his in­ter­view with CNN, Mr. Eskridge said: “Don­ald Trump, if you see this … what­ever you can do, we wel­come any help you can give us.”

The pres­i­dent saw the seg­ment and called Mr. Eskridge. They talked for 10 min­utes.

The mayor told CNN that the “pres­i­dent isn’t re­ally a sea-level-rise guy.” Mr. Eskridge said they were on the same page re­gard­ing the threat of ero­sion.

Mr. Eskridge said he men­tioned fund­ing for a sea wall, although the men didn’t go into de­tail.

In an in­ter­view with The Daily Times of Sal­is­bury, Mary­land, Mr. Eskridge said Mr. Trump told him, ‘Your is­land has been there for hun­dreds of years, and I believe your is­land will be there for hun­dreds more.’”


Tang­ier Is­land Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge says it is ero­sion caus­ing his is­land to sink, not global warm­ing.


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