The devastating effects of climate change, and the degradation of the environment as a whole, are becoming more and more known to the public. We know that pollution is impacting our health, eroding soils are threatening our ability to provide food for the world’s population, and the crash of insect populations worldwide jeopardizes the pollination of both commercially grown crops and wild plants. Climate change will disrupt weather patterns, increase extreme weather, and increase global temperatures, with a host of economic and ecological effects. If that isn’t enough to convince you to take action against it, here’s something you may not have considered: rising sea levels are threatening historical sites along America’s coastlines.

Many of America’s important historical and cultural sites are along its coastlines. Boston’s Harbor and San Francisco’s wharf, Plymouth rock, and the fort of St. Augustine in Florida are all close to or on the water. New Orleans, with its rich cultural heritage- its French and Spanish Creole architecture, its varied foods, its diverse musical traditions- is already perilously close to sea level. Even the Statue of Liberty is situated a hair’s breadth from the ocean and is threatened. All of them then face submersion or damage because of the rising tides.

Tangier, Virginia is another important cultural site that is seriously threatened by rising sea levels. This island is home to a unique dialect of American English that is believed to be derived from English settlers in the colonies. The island itself was settled by colonists beginning in the 18th and 19th centuries. If sea levels continue to rise, the island will have to be abandoned within 50 years. It pains me to think of the island becoming submerged by our own making, and to think that the island’s history and interesting, valuable speech patterns will be lost in the eventual diaspora.

I think what’s most important about this is to remember that you have a voice. You may likely have a blog of your own, where you can write about how climate change threatens things that you’re passionate about. Making environmental issues personal is a great way for others to see how problems like climate change really impact our lives, rather than just the numbers, the big picture. You may have a network of friends or coworkers unaware of the major consequences of rising sea levels and other similar threats- on a global scale and in our daily lives- try to inform them. As soon as the issue becomes personal for people, as soon as they realize that it could cause harm to that which they hold dear, movements to mitigate it gain traction.

So think about it. Blog about it. Create art. Talk. Post. Lobby. Our past, and our future, hangs in the balance.

For more information, go to:

NASA’s Website on Global Climate Change, with a specific section about rising sea levels

Reporter’s notebook: Visiting the disappearing Tangier Island

Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash


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