Early in the 1975 movie Jaws, a shark is spotted in the distance, and Amity police Chief Brody yells to swimmers to get out of the water. The swimmers, terrified, rush to shore. The scene was filmed at State Beach in late spring, so the local extras didn’t need to use their acting skills as they scrambled to escape the frigid water.

The scene takes place after two people were killed in shark attacks. Mayor Vaughn downplays the attacks and fights against closing the beaches. He dismisses the mounting evidence of a menacing great white shark in Amity waters because, he argues: “Amity is a summer town. We need summer dollars. We depend upon summer people for our very lives.” Closing the beaches on the July Fourth weekend would have serious economic consequences. In the blockbuster movie, the medical examiner succumbs to political pressure to change a death certificate, removing shark attack as the cause of death.

Today, some are downplaying the threat posed by climate change. Arguments dismissing the scientific evidence run the gamut. But the science is clear. Climate change is a real threat to the Island, and we need to approach it with long-range problem-solving instead of shortsighted thinking.

There have already been countless destructive events around the globe caused by climate change. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission will soon make available storm tide pathways maps that will show flooding in the coming years in areas that have never flooded before. All roads to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital could be inundated with a major hurricane. Already, Five Corners is periodically underwater.

The commission is developing a climate action plan to address climate-related issues. Over the past five months, working groups have been investigating how climate change will affect the Island’s land use and natural resources, infrastructure and transportation, food security, public health and safety, economic resilience, and energy transformation. This effort will culminate in a great opportunity for meaningful community engagement and action. The working groups have organized events during Climate Action Week from May 8 through May 14. A list of the events can be found at thevineyardway.org.

Jaws is an allegory for what we face today. The potentially disastrous effects of climate change on the Island are real. Unabated, the results will be impassable roads, an insecure economy, and devastation of natural beauty. The way forward is to work together to find actionable solutions.

Jon Harris is a member of the MVC’s climate action plan infrastructure and transportation working group and seasonal resident of Oak Bluffs.