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Island Farewell

I knew before I clicked over which island in the Chesapeake Mental Floss was referring to, though I sort of hoped that the magazine was mistakenly writing about Holland Island, which sank into the bay years ago, the final house collapsing recently into the water.

But no, they were writing about how climate change is sinking Smith Island, our family’s special spot.  It is so beloved that we even named our car Smithie in homage.  I have written about it many timesMany many times.

It hurts my heart to think about an entire place sinking away.  We’re not talking about losing a specific building or not being able to return to a place (but knowing it still exists), but an entire island disappearing under the water.  Once it is gone, there’s no way to fix it, no way to bring it back.  We did this.  We made this happen.

We changed the world with technology and industry, and in the end, we changed the world.  We literally changed it.  We changed the surface and all below the surface and the water and the coastlines and the mountains.  We didn’t just change our day-to-day lives, but the spaces in which we conduct those day-to-day lives.  And we changed it for every single creature on earth, not just ourselves.

And now we have islands disappearing underwater and mudslides and fires.

It’s a sobering thought: to consider your favourite town on earth gone, completely erased.


1 a { 11.22.15 at 10:25 am }

Sooner or later, the earth will probably pay us back for all of it. I just hope it’s long after my family line dies out.

2 35jupiterdrive { 11.22.15 at 1:05 pm }

Not sure if you knew this, but I lived on the Eastern Shore for quite awhile. The wetlands & wildlife sanctuary on Smith are beautiful & irreplaceable.

3 Claire { 11.22.15 at 1:50 pm }

This and the polar bears and the rainforests. Et al. I wish someone would ASK us if we want all this consumerism and greed and we could just OPT OUT – yes I would opt out of my phone too. And leave the greedy rich rainforest burning bastards to their own private hell. I’m sorry about your island. That is so sad:( ugh. My heart breaks for our world and our kids.

4 Laurel Regan { 11.22.15 at 2:26 pm }

It’s utterly heartbreaking. No words.

5 Cristy { 11.22.15 at 2:33 pm }

I once knew a number of atmospheric scientists. When they talked about this topic, they made it very clear that it was no longer a matter of “if,” but “how bad.” Sadly, I really believe humanity will only make changes when there is no other choice. Which is terribly sad as there’s still so much we can do now to prevent it from getting unbearable.

6 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.22.15 at 6:32 pm }

This really takes climate change from the abstract to reality, that it actually affects someone I know. Sobering thought, indeed.

(And now I’m remembering your Smith Island cake — yummmmmm.)

7 tasivfer { 11.22.15 at 10:10 pm }

I’m so sorry your island is gone; how devastating. It made me momentarily want to google an island in the Magothy River, Dobbins Island, that my father and I would camp on. However I won’t. It could be gone, and if not it’s probably no longer the wild place it was.

8 Mali { 11.22.15 at 10:12 pm }

When we think of islands sinking in this part of the world, we tend to think of the Pacific Island atoll nations (Kiribati, in particular) losing their entire nation. We have a large Pacific Island population here, and it is personal to them, in the way that it isn’t to me, though I have worked on development projects based in these countries. Perhaps more selfishly, I fear that I’ll never get to the Maldives (on my bucket list) before they disappear. And my heart aches as I hear, annually and for months on end, that the rain forests in Indonesia are burning. But it still isn’t directly personal to me. How painful though, for you to know that a place you love so much, a place where you have so many memories, a place so directly personal to you and your family, may well disappear in your lifetime. Hugs. Hugs to all of us.

9 luna { 11.23.15 at 1:29 am }

So insane. I’d love to see this expanded with photos and widely shared. Makes it so real, now. An old colleague has been working with an Alaskan village and seeing the same. Devastating.

10 Jess { 11.23.15 at 8:18 pm }

Oh, no. I am so sorry for the impending loss of your special island. It’s amazing that people can still debate and deny that climate change is real.

11 loribeth { 11.23.15 at 9:14 pm }

I’m sorry. 🙁 The weather has definitely changed over the past 5-10 years… it used to rain and these days, it POURS. We regularly get these violent thunderstorms and ice storms in the winter now. You can’t tell me it’s not related to the climate change. :p 🙁

This reminds me of the author Joyce Maynard, who has written about her home on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala… I’m not sure it’s climate-change related, but he lake is rising, and is gradually encroaching on her property. Eventually the house itself will be underwater too. There’s nothing she can do about it except enjoy whatever time she has left there.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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