From extreme temperature gains and drops to rising sea levels, man’s destruction of our one and only planet is starting to take its toll. And casualties could soon include our supply of Tabasco sauce.
You see, Tabasco’s home lies in the Louisiana marsh, on a small stretch of land known as Avery Island. There, the first pepper used to make the tangy and strong sauce was found growing next to a chicken coop.
All has been quiet on the island that sits 163 feet above sea level for the last 150 years, however, rising waters are now threatening the land and causing its inhabitants to rethink their futures.
“It does worry us, and we are working hard to minimize the land loss,” Tony Simmons, the seventh consecutive McIlhenny family member to lead the ubiquitous hot sauce company, told The Guardian. “We want to protect the marsh because the marsh protects us.”
And while the pepper can certainly be grown in other places that’s not what Simmons wants to do to his family legacy.
“We don’t think it will come to that, but we are working to do everything we can to make sure it won’t happen to us,” he said. “I mean, we could make Tabasco somewhere else. But this is more than a business: this is our home.”
However, they soon might not have much of a choice. According to The Guardian, Avery Island’s surrounding marshes that have protected it are receding by nearly 30 feet a year. This, The Guardian noted, isn’t just due to climate changes, but can also be blamed on the oil and gas industry digging large trenches in the surrounding area. Moreover, the island itself is gradually sinking by around a third of an inch a year.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a sea level increase of just 2 feet will drown nearly the entire island save for its highest peak in the coming years.
For now, the only plan is to move residents living on the island to the mainland and continue building expensive seawalls to help stave off Mother Nature for as long as they can.
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As Oliver Houck, an expert in land loss at Tulane University, told The Guardian, “It is a ripped-up rug. It would take decades to put it back together, even without sea level rise. Avery Island is going to become an actual island, there won’t be much left.” He added, “The state has decided to put all its eggs into restoring the eastern part of the state. I hate to use the words ‘written off,’ but those coastal communities are on their own.”
For now, all you can do is start stockpiling Tabasco sauce. But, for the benefit of future generations, read up on how to be a more environmentally friendly traveler and start implementing small changes today for a better world tomorrow.