Rising tides threaten former seafood capital
Climate change is real, and most Americans believe it to be real. But even most of those who acknowledge the reality of man-made climate change see it as, at worst, an abstract and distant threat. Only 54% of Americans believe that climate change has already begun, and 36% see it as a serious threat to their own way of life, according to a recent Gallup poll. That leaves 64% of the country relatively undisturbed by the possibility for catastrophic environmental change in their lifetime.
It’s closer than they think. In fact, rising tides and steadily climbing temperatures have already begun to reshape this planet, altering human society in unpredictable ways. These changes aren’t just happening in third world island nations: For the residents of Chesapeake Bay, Md., climbing sea levels are now an inescapable fact of life.
On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the tide is now rising at a speed of about three millimeters per year. While that might not sound like much, it’s enough to completely submerge the region within the next half-century. In the meantime, residents have had to learn to cope with other consequences, like eroding real estate values and salt water that leeches the vitality out of their farm soil.
Award-winning photographer Greg Kahn traveled to Eastern Maryland to capture the damage which is already visible. What he found there was the “a tiny apocalypse unfolding in plain sight.”
“Generations of watermen created a tight-knit community within its own cultural ecosystem, and they do not want to see it washed away,” he wrote. “These photographs depict the last breaths of a community as they are forced to adapt to the smallest by most devastating tidal wave.”
Click the slideshow above to see how they have adapted so far.