Featured Letter: Be smart with solar

08/14/2014 6:00 AM |

Our family, like so many on Long Island, makes visiting the farms on the North Fork an annual tradition. Agriculture and agro-tourism are major Long Island industries. We should preserve agricultural space, but we must also weigh the threat of climate change to these very industries and to our local economy as a whole. Clean energy sources like solar will be key to reducing heat-trapping gas emissions and limiting the effects of global warming.

With continued carbon pollution, climatologists expect our region to grow significantly wetter— damaging staple Long Island crops like cabbage, pumpkins, and wine grapes—and more volatile, making good crop years harder to predict. Solar could provide farmers with important supplemental income in difficult years while helping avoid further climate disruption. Just as wind turbines are a familiar sight around the East End, good planning could allow solar farming and agriculture to co-exist. Whatever these towns decide, they should certainly allow exceptions for acreage no longer suitable as cropland due to pollution. We can argue about zoning details, but all Long Islanders should support clean power for healthier, more prosperous communities.

Jeanne Brunson, South Setauket

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