3 Millimeters

Human nature, or perhaps American nature, prevents us from dwelling too long on events that are unsettling. A dramatic natural disaster will capture our attention, inspire us to action, and then recede to the background of our lives. On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the natural disaster is a long, drawn-out event — a rising sea level occurring at the rate of three millimeters per year — slow enough to ignore, but dramatic enough to overtake the town in 50 years. It’s not the swift impact of a storm, but a slow drowning of a culture.

Maryland’s Eastern Shore is a tiny apocalypse unfolding in plain sight, but even its own residents want to deny its inevitability. Generations of watermen created a tight-knit community with its own cultural ecosystem, and they do not want to see it washed away. These photographs depict the last breaths of a community as they are forced to adapt to the smallest but most devastating tidal wave.

[Greg Kahn © – Pastor walking on dock to take boat to service Smith Island3 Millimeters]

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