June 20, 2087
Thorndike Park renamed Thorndike Beach at its 150th anniversary floating lantern ceremony.
On June 20, 2087, a crowd of about 1,000 people gathered to observe the 150th anniversary of the founding of Thorndike Park and to officially rename it Thorndike Beach. Once an active playing field welcoming sports and recreation, ringed by tall trees, this stretch of land has been devastated by floodwaters from storms and rising sea levels. Now the field is a large pond with swampy edges. The people gathered had once lived in single- and two-family homes surrounding the park; as children, many of them played in the park and had fond memories. Flooding caused not only the loss of the park, but the loss of their homes, and they had been forced to relocate, refugees of climate change. As a way to acknowledge their grief and loss, the Town of Arlington held a memorial lantern festival. Participants lit small paper lanterns and floated them on the water, watching as the sun set. As a eulogy for what was once Thorndike Park, a speaker read an essay written by a High School student in 2021 studying the future impact of climate change; his dire predictions had unfortunately come to pass. As someone with family in coastal regions, including Japan and New York City, rising waters were on his mind that early in the climate crisis. This is the essay read at the ceremony:
“We as a species have spent relatively little time on this planet. In the past 100 years, our effect on this world has increased dramatically as a result of industrialization and our explosive growth in population. These factors have resulted in the highest atmospheric CO2 levels in the history of our species. These high CO2 levels cause higher temperatures. As the temperature of the planet increases, glaciers melt and the volume of the ocean expands as the water warms. A large majority of the world's population lives on the coast. Major cities with importance to the entire globe such as New York, Shanghai, and Tokyo are in imminent danger of flooding. With all these global catastrophes to look forward to, the ones closer to home can often be forgotten. A portion of East Arlington will be underwater by 2096 with the rest of Arlington at risk of flooding. This will result in Thorndike Field being renamed Thorndike Beach. While the concept of beachfront property might appeal to some, the reality is pretty depressing; Thorndike Beach will resemble a dystopian nightmare as opposed to a beachfront paradise. The areas around Thorndike will also be heavily affected, causing families in East Arlington to relocate. Schools, parks, and homes where countless generations have been raised will either be underwater or in constant danger of flooding. Alewife Station, a key point for commuting for the whole Boston area, will be under water. A saddening amount of wildlife will be gone; The Alewife Brook and Fresh Pond reservations will cease to exist. The bike path, a symbol of eco-friendly transportation and the result of the hard work of many, will also be rendered incapacitated to some degree. Ironically, Lake Street will run parallel to the ocean. As a result of all these things, the town of Arlington will be ”6 feet under”…4.5 feet under to be exact. The economic, cultural, ecological, and psychological effects of climate change will be disastrous to the town of Arlington. We have an obligation as citizens of this town to preserve this town by fighting climate change.”
Surging Seas Risk Zone Map – flood projections used
Climate Central, The Last Time CO2 Was This High, Humans Didn’t Exist
NOAA/Climate.gov, Climate Change: Global Sea Level