Climate Signals summary: Increasing temperatures, sea level rise, and destructive storms fueled by human-caused climate change are forcing some communities to consider retreating from land they've lived on for generations.
Ricky Wright points to the bank of a creek to show one way his hometown has been affected by climate change. Many banks have eroded or collapsed, and now some favorite fishing spots that were once on solid ground are reachable only by boat.
Wright is part of the Gullah Geechee, a group of Black Americans who descended from slaves and live off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The community that has endured for centuries is now imperiled by a combination of rising seas devouring their land, higher temperatures changing how they farm and fish, and destructive storms threatening their way of life.
“I would say (it’s) depressing to lose places like that, especially if you grew up there,” said the 65-year-old fisherman, who noted other changes, like the great white shark migrating to waters off St. Helena Island. “It’s scary.”
The risks to the Gullah Geechee and other communities have intensified enough to raise a startling question: Should some populated places simply be abandoned to nature? One strategy gaining traction is so-called managed retreat, which is the planned relocation of vulnerable people.
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