Virginia’s Sinking Island

Very few people, including many Virginians, could tell you where, or what, Tangier Island is. The Virginia island is hidden away in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay- just a small, marshy area of land home to a little over 460 people. Tangier has been a community of fishermen, crabbers, watermen, and families since around 1850, when the island became fully established. After almost 170 years of human life, the island may not be around for much longer.

Tangier Island is one of the many small masses of land eroding and sinking due to effects of global warming. Like many people in denial of the reason behind the decaying and sinking of some world landmasses, the islanders are no different; they are sure that this is just the effect of natural erosion.

“The facts are unmistakable that the lower troposphere is warming and that human actions are responsible,” says AP Environmental Science teacher, Gretchen DeWall. “We are moving so much carbon into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and cutting down of forests that the temperature will continue to rise until we stop.” She continued, “This means that large corporations need to change their behaviors, which means they are impacted economically, and they don’t want that. They actually spend money falsely convincing common people like us that global warming is not real.”

In the 2016 presidential race, over 85% of the people of Tangier Island supported the presidency of Donald Trump, who has taken it upon himself to support the islanders in saving their home. Trump has had the idea to protect the island by building a wall- an idea that DeWall, doesn’t believe is best and not at all very helpful.

”A wall would diminish the quality and character of the island,” says DeWall, “The only way to save the island would be to decrease the agents of erosion and preserve it as long as possible…I don’t know if it is scientifically possible to save it from complete erosion.”

Although we may not be able to directly prevent Tangier Island and our environment from immediate destruction, there are many ways that we can slow down the main destructive process of global warming. We can do this by using less fossil fuels, using energy wisely, wasting less, and limiting consumption. People can also enact policy change against global warming by paying attention in our elections and voting for government officials who will actually take a stand to positively help the environment.

These days, youth-led movements against climate change are the most positive and progressive. Young people participate in climate strikes and protests to show local officials that we need to save our world. Our generation has a chance to fight for not only our future in places like Tangier Island, but for the future of generations to come worldwide.