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Cape Cod in 30 Years: The Arm of Massachusetts will cease to exist by Barnard Blogger Kate Barrett

Throughout my entire life, nature has been a huge part of the environment that I live in. I grew up in a small town on Cape Cod, living no more than ten minutes from the beach. My father works as a fisherman in the summers, and spends his winters working on research trips with crews of ten to twenty marine biologists. I am always aware of the biological ecosystems around me, and see the looming threats of climate change approaching. In fact, climate change has already started to affect many aspects of life

on the Cape. Sea levels are rising at an incredibly rapid rate, which causes many horrible consequences: bluff erosion, over wash, urban inundation, island breaching, extinction of certain species, wetland loss, and water quality reduction – just to name a few. The groundwater systems are also being heavily impacted as sea levels rise because it alters the natural flow. There is a huge worry that the cape will “fall into the sea”. However, this may not be completely true. Sure, major changes to the coast will occur through erosion and other factors, but it must be noted that sea-levels have been rising at various rates for thousands of years; the more recent rises have just been at alarming rates. If the people living in these areas are able to prepare and counter-act these rises, we may be able to delay and reduce the amount of rise. People have already started to build their ocean-front houses on stilts to protect from not only rising sea levels but flooding due to hurricane season blowing waves.

The rising sea levels are an issue all across the globe, but it is especially harmful to the Cape and the islands like Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard, since most of the Cape is not functioning as a static system. I personally have noticed winters becoming warmer. Seawalls have been blown down and destroyed. Some of my closest friends’ houses have been flooded and ruined. My father has found significant issues maintaining the safety of his boat because the waves during hurricane season are simply too rough for it to remain in the water. The crashing of each tide can easily demolish his 40-foot fishing vessel. It is extremely frightening to see these changes so close to home. I truly believe that the country is being set extensively far back due to our president pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. As a student minoring in Environmental Science, I feel that I must find other people as passionate about ending climate change as I am and make an effort to fight the rising climate through rallies, protests, and educating the people of the Cape.

If climate change continues to impact Cape Cod at this rate, 30 years from now, much of the land and many towns on the arm of Massachusetts will cease to exist. Erosion and flooding will have completely eliminated the infrastructures and towns surrounding. Many industries will suffer, like tourism and agriculture. Tourism in the summertime is a huge economic moneymaker for Massachusetts, as thousands of people come to visit each year. Restaurants are booming, beaches are overcrowded, and tourist clothing shops are located on every single street corner. If that were all to disappear, Massachusetts would be facing a ginormous profit deficit. Alongside tourism, agriculture is a huge aspect of life on the Cape. The towns profit from being large producers of cranberries, fish, and shellfish. Cape Cod’s fisheries and oysters, in particular, are famous and sold all around the world. The cranberry industry was born in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts, which continues to be one of the top locations for production. The Cape Cod Cranberry Grower’s Association stated that drought due to climate change is easily one of the largest concerns for the cranberry industry because cranberry bogs rely on their in-ground irrigation system to grow. As a worried member of society, I will try my best to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible, but this issue is one that will only be fixed through a larger mass of community contribution. Getting the word out and educating people on the horrid effects of climate change is the first step to defeating it. I am hoping that once more people are aware of what is happening to the country, then maybe we will have a greater chance.


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3 Responses

  1. Kate, I loved the personal approach to your blog post. I am sorry to have learned this and to hear how climate change has directly impacted your life. I have heard about the research that NYC will be under water due to climate change, but didn’t really know of other places that would be facing the same type of issue. It is interesting that Cape Cod is effected by both droughts and flooding, but makes sense. I appreciated reading about how climate change is effecting businesses and the economy of Cape Cod.

  2. Kate I found your personal connection to Cape Cod very important in this post. I think it is important to notice climate change affects so many people in so many different industries. As you mentioned not only will tourism be affected but agriculture as well. While I agree it is important everyone is aware of the changes in the US I really think we need to progress past trying to educate everyone and instead push for more action from industries that have more say. In Cape Cod, for example, working with the tourism/agriculture industry to push for action would be a good progressive step.

  3. As with everyone, I have thoroughly enjoyed the personal aspect to your post and I thought that by sharing your perspective on how climate change has affected your life and the place that you know most well. I particularly liked how you proposed how although sea levels are rising, if people around the Cape counteract these rises then they would be able to delay and reduce the effects. I also thought that how you integrated the environmental, social and economic effects to the Cape as they are the three pillars of sustainable development.

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