NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Norfolk is trapped between the causes and consequences of global warming.
The region exports more coal — and the heat-trapping pollution that comes with it — than any place in the U.S. At the same time, Norfolk is already experiencing one of the fastest rates of sea level rise in the country.
Flood walls protect downtown from rising waters. Residents raise houses to escape floods.
Yet an endless procession of trains filled with Appalachian coal rumbles into Norfolk every year. They’re bound for ships that will take the coal to foreign power plants and factories to be burned.
As the U.S. weans itself off the dirty fuels blamed for global warming at home, it has sent more dirty fuels than ever abroad to meet a growing demand.
In 2013 alone, coal shipped from Norfolk contained 48 million tons of carbon dioxide, pollution that could come back to haunt this city.
That’s because the pollution leaves the nation’s shores, but not the planet.
Here’s a collection of images showing how the Norfolk and Newport News region is caught in the middle — between coal exports and climate change. They were photographed by AP staff photographer Patrick Semansky.