From Ellis Island to the Everglades, and from sea to rising sea, many of America's most iconic landmarks and historic sites face the risk of severe damage or even eventual loss.
A new report, published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, highlights thirty vulnerable locations that were chosen because "the science behind the risks they face is robust, and because together they shine a spotlight on the different kinds of climate impacts already affecting the United States' cultural heritage." The assessment takes into account damage that could be caused by rising sea levels, coastal erosion, increased flooding and more frequent large wildfires.
Boston's historic Long Wharf, the Blackstone Block (a compact district of narrow, winding streets and alleys dating from the seventeenth century), and Faneuil Hall (a U.S. National Historic Landmark where Samuel Adams and other Sons of Liberty first met to plan the Boston Tea Party) are all at risk from rising seas. Ten of the 20 highest tides over the last hundred years have occurred in the last decade. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranked Boston the eighth-highest metropolitan area worldwide in expected economic losses, estimated at $237 million per year, on average, between now and 2050, due to coastal flooding.
The Gold Rush–era town of Groveland, CA, near Yosemite National Park witnessed the particularly destructive 2013 Rim Fire. It was the state's third-largest wildfire on record and overwhelmed the tight-knit community, destroying homes and closing businesses at the height of the tourist season. Climate change is increasing the risk of more frequent fires in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains by driving up temperatures and drying out forests for longer periods.
You can read the entire report, "National Landmarks at Risk," at the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists.