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Editorial: A good start from Patrick

We’re glad to see that Gov. Deval Patrick is moving pro-actively to prepare the state for changes that are sure to come over the next few decades, rather than waiting until they are a reality.

The governor’s $50 million plan is designed to address “challenges posed by climate change on public health, energy, transportation and basic infrastructure.”

That’s not going to be enough, but it’s a good start.

Most of this first money — $40 million — is aimed at protecting electrical distribution networks from damage from hurricanes and massive snowstorms. That includes not only protective measures but also adding “micro-grids,” which can stand alone in emergencies.

The rest will be used to strengthen dams and to protect the commonwealth’s coastal areas by adding and raising seawalls and implementing “green infrastructure” projects like beach and dune enhancement and salt marsh retention.

“The question is not whether we need to act. We’re past that,” Patrick said as he announced the initiate. Other parts of the proposal include assessing vulnerable roadways and transportation networks. Also, health agencies need to assess how to protect drinking water and sewage systems.

The administration pointed to the five major storms seen in the state since 2010, a significant rise in Eastern Equine Encephalitis in mosquitoes that led to aerial spraying in 2012, and the 2013 closure of oyster beds for the first time in state history because of vibrio parahaemolyticus — all of which can be attributed to the effects of climate change — as indicators of the urgency of the situation.

“The world’s climate is changing and human activity is contributing to that change,” said Patrick. “Massachusetts needs to be ready.”

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