PARRIS ISLAND LETTUCE AND MARINES AFFECTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE
By Buddy Blouin
Near the southeast tip of South Carolina lies an island in the Port Royal Sound that boasts the name of a highly sought-after veggie as well as tens of thousands of Marines. But both Parris Island lettuce and the military branch may be facing a similar foe: climate change.
Extreme Weather Is Bad for Parris Island Lettuce and Marines AlikeParris Island lettuce got its name from the island in South Carolina and is best known for its buttery-green look complimented by a sweet, crunchy bite. It’s a great addition to any dish that needs a fresh bite of veggies that won’t overpower other flavors, including meals like sandwiches and wraps. You can use Romaine “Parris Island” lettuce as either a single component or even as the backbone of your salad. Cos lettuce, another name for the veggie, is a healthy addition to anyone’s diet, but it grows best in cooler or moderate temperatures. Growing lettuce in the heat of summer can often present difficulties, and now the same can be said for training the United States Marine Corps. Earth’s climate continues to change for a variety of reasons. Such changes are bringing erratic weather patterns and more extreme weather to billions across the world. The coastal location of Parris Island, South Carolina, makes it extremely vulnerable to increasingly hot summer temperatures and tropical disturbances. Tropical storms, depressions, and hurricanes bring intense wind, storm surges, and torrential rainfall, which leads to flooding. As if the extreme wind and water weren’t problematic enough, what many people fail to realize is that once a storm subsides, you’re right back in the thick of the heat and humidity. These conditions are less than ideal for anyone, and the Parris Island Marines are taking notice of the trends at hand. The new idea to move the training facilities from the Parris Island Training Depot is part of a larger move by the Navy which assesses the impact of weather on a variety of military installations. The Marines considering abandoning Parris Island amid rising extreme weather threats is directly correlated with the effects that devastating storms have had throughout the United States and the risk posed to the depot. "I'm aware that there are conversations in the Marine Corps about the possibility of moving bases right now," said the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Environment, Installations, and Energy, Meredith Berger, while speaking about moving the Parris Island Training Depot. “We are seeing some real impacts there in terms of its geography, in terms of...impacts that we've seen in storms, water impacts," Berger continued. Berger also mentioned that Parris Island is typically in the path of storms because of its location, further highlighting the impact that storms have on these decisions. While such storms are natural for the region, the increase in heat is complicating an already destructive situation.
Too Hot for Parris Island Cos Lettuce, Too Hot for TrainingEnduring a Parris Island hurricane is only part of the problem at hand. In recent history, Parris Island Marines have seen various heat-related illnesses, suffering more than 570 such cases between 2016 and 2020, according to the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. Since 1915, Parris Island has been known for its exceptional Marine training and is a proud part of the culture of the USMC. But as times change, so too do the plans for military installations across all branches. The comments made by Berger on Parris Island were part of a bigger initiative known as the Navy’s Climate Action 2030 plan.
Action Is Needed for Parris Island and BeyondAs bad as the issues for Parris Island Marines might be, this is not a problem unique to the island. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) lives in a world of data collection and analysis, so it should be no surprise that the government agency is looking into the issue of climate change affecting military installations through its Climate Adaptation Plan. Recently, we’ve seen multiple military installations have to deal with a wide range of extreme weather, including flooding, hurricanes, and wildfires by Offutt Air Force Base, Tyndall Air Force Base, and various military bases in California, respectively. While we don’t expect the DoD to produce better Parris Island lettuce growing tips, it’s an interesting plan to watch as the locations of military installations work to keep up with an ever-changing world.
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