Coastal areas are drastically impacted by the effects of climate change. Communities are witnessing rising sea levels, stronger storms, and coastal erosion, forcing residents to leave their homes.
This film highlights lifelong residents who live on a tiny island community off the Louisiana coast that is sinking into the sea. For over 150 years, the Isle de Jean Charles has been home to a small band of Native Americans who have made their living from the island's surrounding waters. But in the last 50 years, 90 percent of this once lush island has been swallowed up by water; it is now just a quarter-mile-wide sliver covered with dead trees. Most of the island's residents have been forced to leave due to the destruction of their homes from storms, the inability to rebuild, and the loss of jobs on the island.
Several factors have contributed to the island's disappearance. Starting in the 1930s, oil companies carved canals in the surrounding marshlands to access their oil rigs. The canals brought in salt water, eroding the island and killing plant life. In addition, flood control dams and dikes on the Mississippi River prevented the natural flow of silt that historically helped rebuild the island. And with climate change, the rising sea level due to melting polar ice is covering more land. The island is experiencing an increase in severe hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season, active from June to November each year, which threatens to wash their home away. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 50 percent of the U.S. population live in coastal counties. As the island continues to shrink, so does the community that has depended on it for its livelihood.
Connections to National Standards
Common Core English Language Arts. SL.9-10.5 and SL.11-12.5. Make use of digital media (e.g.,textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understandings of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. D2.Geo.2.9-12. Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their political, cultural, and economic dynamics.
Next Generation Science Standards. HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth's surface can create feedback that cause changes to other Earth systems.