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.

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.