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Historic Jamestown will likely be underwater by the end of the century

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Interior Secretary says, "What's at risk is the history of our country."

Wikimedia Commons / Swampyank

America's oldest known permanent European settlement might one day be drowned by the rising seas, leaving it standing only in history books. The Associated Press reports that US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently visited Jamestown Island, Virginia as part of the Obama administration's push to address climate changes. "It's very clear we have global warming and sea level rise and this is a hot spot for it," said Jewell, who described the historic location as "highly vulnerable."

Park Service natural resource specialist Dorothy Geyer told The Associated Press that a one-and-a-half-foot rise in sea levels could put 60 percent of the island under water, while a 4-foot-plus increase would submerge 80 percent of the landmass. Earlier in May, the Union of Concerned Scientists listed Jamestown Island in their report detailing 30 historical landmarks that were under threat from climate changes. It states that the waters around Jamestown have been increasing at a rate of more than twice that of the global average, with Virginia's sea levels predicted to rise "as much as 2 feet by 2050 and up to 6 feet by the turn of the century."