Much has been documented on climate change and rising sea levels affecting low-lying regions like the Yucatán Peninsula.
But one aspect seldom discussed is its impact on cultural heritage.
The principle is not particularly difficult to understand. As sea levels rise, structures — even those that have existed for over a millennia — will be submerged.
The closer the archaeological remains are to the coastline, the more endangered they are. However, proximity to the ocean is not the only factor to consider.
For instance, the archaeological site of Xcambó lay less than a mile from the coastline but is also built in an extremely swampy area, making it liable to flood or, at the very least, get extremely muddy.
According to a recent NASA report, even conservative estimates project the globe should expect a sea level rise with averages of 25 to 30 centimeters, or nine to 11 inches, by 2050.
While that may not seem like a lot, when you combine this fact with the erosion along Yucatán’s coast and the destruction of the Peninsula’s mangroves, things could get very ugly.
When it comes to archaeological remains, severe damage is already being detected in the region surrounding Ciudad del Carmen.
Also at considerable risk is the archaeological site of El Rey, which sits next to a golf course on the lagoon opposite Cancún’s Caribbean beach.
With the increasing size of developments along Yucatán’s coastline, concerns have begun to arise regarding the viability of continued growth in the region.
Though only time will tell just how much of Yucatán’s history will be lost for the coming generation, one thing is for certain: nature yields for no one.