Local impacts of climate change in Myrtle Beach, SC | Sea Change

Anyone who has paid attention to the news in the last two decades has become familiar with the phrase "climate change." A topic of political and cultural discussion, individuals across the world have had to consider what effects climate change could have on the planet. But what can the southeastern United States expect in impacts?

The SCETV Special Sea Change looks at the current issues facing the Grand Strand, the area on the East Coast of South Carolina from Little River to Georgetown, and what communities in this region can expect and must do, as sea levels continue to rise.

"The greater Grand Strand area is quite vulnerable to what's going to happen with climate change." remarks The Honorable Mary Jeffcoat of the Myrtle Beach City Council.

"It's the rising ocean, it's the marine life, it's our tourism, it's the cultural effects... for example the sweet grass baskets. They are a part of our culture, and they're going to disappear when our sweet grass disappears."

Melvin Bell of the Office of Fisheries Management for South Carolina Department of Natural Resources notes that a major issue is that inhabitants of South Carolina thousands of years ago would move inland and upstream as sea levels and landforms changed, but as South Carolina became a settled state, deeds and titles are formed, properties in vulnerable areas can't be easily transported, and people simply don't want to leave their homes and businesses. He calls it the sea level rise conundrum, "How do we deal with that as a society? How do we accomodate what may need to happen to preserve our estaurine habitats, but at the same time be respectful of personal rights.

Albert George, the Director of Conservation for the South Carolina Aquarium, speaks on another major issue that is preventing climate change, the fear of accepting its reality. "Every community that we've had the chance to go into and just ask the fundamental questions: 'Have you seen any differences over the last 30 years?' In this part of the world, the resounding response has been yes," he says.

"In particular, people, when you can ask them off the record, they tell you, 'I've seen the water come up.' 'I've seen more water coming in places that I've never have experienced in all of my life living here.' If we can get away from the polarizing of things politically, and get to the facts, fundamentally, of what's going on in each location, what's going on in your neighborhood... if people can just come to grips with that reality, then I think they would have no choice but to recognize that we are experiencing significant changes."

SCETV has further explored how climate change is currently affecting the southeastern coast of the United States in the new documentary Sea Change. To see the complete program, tune in to Sea Change on SCETV for the premiere, Nov. 15 at 7:00 p.m. Narrator Patrick McMillan takes viewers from the sands of Hunting Island State Park to other communities along the coast, looking at immediate and long-term impacts and the efforts made to withstand nature’s onslaught.