I keep one eye open for important stories about worsening climate change. There’s certainly no shortage of those these days.
This article is about one spot where the results of warming and the accompanying rise in sea levels is affecting the heart of Cajun country. It’s a place where many folks hold strongly conservative beliefs and where warnings about climate change from scientists and treehuggers are at considerable risk of being ignored or blithely explained away.
Avery Island–where Tabasco Sauce has been made for over 150 years–is slowly sinking. But the main problem is that the water surrounding most of the island is rising very fast. Faster than almost anywhere else on the planet.
It’s not actually an island in the technical or scientific sense, but it’s going to become one soon. By 2050, according to recent estimates.
The Island rises 163′ above sea level now, but the marshes surrounding it are retreating by a staggering 30′ per year. At that rate, the 2,200 acres of Avery Island will shrink dramatically before the mid-century mark, leaving only its core above water. That’s hardly enough real estate to support the growth of peppers and the production of the hot sauce which has made Tabasco one of the best known brands in the food industry and made the McIlhenny family very, very rich.
The Guardian published an article just this morning by writer Oliver Milman which lays out skillfully and in painstaking detail how this unhappy development is unfolding. I strongly recommend this piece to anyone who’s interested in climate change, great hot sauce, or contemporary events affecting life in the American south.
Climate change is real. The seas are rising. And regardless of how long it takes for some Americans to see what’s actually happening all around us, we’re going to have to meet the challenges caused by the damage we’ve done to our planet, and we’re going to have to be for real.
The denying, the explaining away and the foot dragging have got to stop. If we still have a lot of people and a lot of corporations–who have a financial interest in mucking up the issue–pulling in the wrong direction, wondering how we’re going to keep our favorite hot sauce on the store shelves will be the least of our worries.
“Bulldog Ben” Basile
© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile
Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile