Hurricane Ida, jazz and how climate change is destroying our history


The Karnofsky store is no more. The building – a jazz monument known as a “second home” to young Louis Armstrong – collapsed on Sunday, rocked by heavy gusts from Hurricane Ida. A bit of what makes New Orleans New Orleans is nothing more than a heap of rubble.

It is a clue of what climate change reserve for humanity.

We tend to think of climate change in terms of what it means for our future – how much the seas will rise, how many acres will burn, how many people will be displaced or worse as temperatures rise and the world changes. around us. What is already clear, however, is that global warming will also tear pieces of our history away, as pieces of it will be burned or drowned or simply blown over by the wind.

This story can be personal: think about how many wildfire stories you have heard about families who have lost old photos and other family heirlooms, mementos of relatives, grandparents and other family members gone forever. But it is also true at the collective level. In 2017, a group of scientists have reported that a one-meter rise in sea level could result in the loss of more than 13,000 different historical and prehistoric archaeological sites in the Southeast alone.

“The displacement of millions of people due to rising sea levels will cause additional impacts where these populations resettle,” the researchers reported. “Rising sea levels will therefore result in the loss of much of the human habitation record of the coastal margin in the southeast within one to two centuries and the figures indicate the extent of the impact on archaeological records globally. “

It matters. So much of America’s talk in recent years has been about our history – how we remember it, how we preserve it, how we think about it and talk about it. We make sense of that story and who we are by seeing and touching the things our ancestors wore, walking where they walked and – yes – building physical monuments for them. Knowledge can be digitized and transmitted, perhaps. But it won’t be the same.

When we lose most of our history to climate change, we will also lose a little of ourselves.

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