The First ‘Climate Refugees’ in the Lower 48 States Live in This Sinking Island in Louisiana

Written by Anna Culaba

If trends continue, the small island of Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana will disappear in the next 50 years.

And the people who have been living there for centuries are being forced to relocate.

The Guardian reports that the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe will have to resettle because of climate change and increased natural disasters. This makes the tribe the first “climate refugees” in the lower 48 states.

“If it passes a hurricane, it’s gonna wash everything away,” Wenceslaus Billiot told The Guardian. “That’s why they want us to move.”

According to Reuters, the island has lost about 98 percent of its land since the 1950s. As for the people, during its peak about 400 people lived in the island, today, about 100 are left struggling to survive in the Louisiana coastal wetlands.

Reuters also reports that the federal government has allocated about $48 million for the relocation of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe.

But they won’t certainly be the only ones.

A study published in the journal Natural Climate Change found that by the end of the century, 13 million people living in the US will be affected by rising sea levels.

This post originally appeared on RYOT

Photo Credit: Facebook/Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians/Babs Bagwell


william Miller
william Miller1 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Charles Brexel Sr.

* Please sign this petition if you support the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and others, in trying to end new offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico -
* Read more about the petition at -
* To prevent runaway global warming, scientific studies say that we must keep 80% to 88%, or more, of all fossil fuels in the ground.
* According to the 3/16/16 IEA preliminary report, in 2015, about 90% of all installed new electrical power in the world was solar and wind power. 50% of all installed new electrical power in 2015 was wind power. Most of the rest of the installed new power was solar power. Source -
* We will have many hundreds of thousands of new, all-electric cars on the road in 2017 and 2018 when the affordable Chevrolet Bolt, the Tesla Model 3, the new 200-mile range Nissan Leaf and many other manufacturers' 200-mile, or greater, range all-electric cars will be massively purchased. So, we will be greatly reducing our need to burn gasoline from 2017 and onward. This will greatly reduce the amount of oil that we will need.
* Electric power companies, in the US and all over the world, are already purchasing or installing only new solar and wind power, rather than natural gas power because solar and wind power are cheaper

Nature L.
Nature L2 years ago

How's that for a wake up call?!

Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
W.B. Yeats

Grace Adams
Grace Adams2 years ago

The power to tax is the power to destroy. So lets try to destroy greenhouse gas emissions by taxing them. The two biggest greenhouse gas contributors to climate change are CO2 and methane with oxides of nitrogen coming in third. So lets tax all three as CO2 equivalent. Since their is much overlap between our fossil fuel firms and our too big to fail, it will be more trouble than it is worth to tax those too big to fail fossil fuel firms without letting them get at least a bit ahead from tax refunds. Our weather/earth observation satellites can pinpoint source of greenhouse gases on their images well enough for tax purposes. The way to refund greenhouse gas tax to too big to fail fossil fuel firms is to buy fossil fuel from them as mineral rights. Their share of record keeping should cost them a bit less than it would to extract the fossil fuel for sale to be burned. Any extra money from greenhouse gas tax can be held by government to use to stabilize carbon-based fuel prices. We should want each too big to fail fossil fuel firm to come out just a bit ahead of free market from selling fossil fuel as mineral rights to government.

Dave C.
David C2 years ago


Frances Bell
Frances Bell2 years ago

My gut feeling is that we'll be seeing a lot more inundated areas a lot sooner than the end of the century, especially if governments and big business won't get the lead out and ACT. We can't afford to sit by and do nothing; the deadlines for capping emissions and moving towards a zero carbon economy are way too far in the future and we may already have missed the boat. What I find interesting is that those same small island nations that have already been devastated are the first and most enthusiastic about initiating alternative power grids.

Maureen King
Maureen King2 years ago

Thank you for all the interesting comments. Particularly Patricia.Couldn't send you more stars,wouldn't let me. You are right.
I love the word RESPONSIBILITY,particularly personal.
Stop wasting precious resources.
People ask me,when its hot,if I have air conditioning,I say "Yes,its called windows and doors."
People take so much for granted.Turn on a tap and you have clean,plentiful water.Some won't think about it till they don't.
Governments want to ignore /deny. So there big corporation buddies /contributors can continue to do as they wish.
It's up to the people to speak out /speak up.
Do nothing, lay the blame elsewhere.

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

Marianne C.,
I still see you choose to deny the truth. Read about what caused this situation. Sinking land tied to development is not the same as rising seas due to climate change.