WINCHESTER — With more than 15 military bases including Naval Station Norfolk — the largest naval station in the world — the Hampton Roads area of Virginia is the center of military might on the East Coast.
But as climate change causes sea levels to rise, the region faces a real threat that water will eventually submerge these military installations, putting the nation’s security at risk.
The 2017 documentary “Tidewater” captures the effects of rising waters on the region and the coordinated effort to avoid a waterlogged disaster.
The Magic Lantern Theater together with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby will offer a free screening of “Tidewater” from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Shenandoah Valley, 6360 Valley Pike south of Stephens City.
The showing of the documentary will be followed by a panel discussion, question and answer session and a reception. The event is free and open to the public.
“Tidewater,” written and directed by Roger Sorkin for the American Resilience Project, depicts how military personnel, universities, local governments, churches and concerned citizens in the Tidewater region are working together shore up the area’s infrastructure.
“It’s a wonderful documentary. I know several people in it and worked with them,” said George Kralovec, a retired aeronautical engineer who flew jets in the Marines Corps and then worked for an aerospace company after he left the military.
Kralovec now volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, an international grassroots group that trains volunteers to build relationships with their elected representatives in order to influence climate policy. Founded in 2007, Citizens’ Climate Lobby has 150,000 volunteers with more than 450 chapters worldwide.
Kralovec and other Citizens’ Climate Lobby will be on hand Saturday night to answer questions and encourage attendees to make their voices heard about climate change.
“I think it’s so important that we grapple with climate change and that we come to terms with it,” said Kralovec. “And we’re still a long way from doing that.”
Just this week, an expert United Nations climate panel warned that sea levels are rising at a steady clip and will rise by 3 feet by the end of the century if global warming isn’t slowed.
Kralovec joined Citizens’ Climate Lobby after he retired in 2010, when he had to time to study the physics behind climate change and found the science to be convincing. “We’re just digging the hole deeper and deeper,” he said. “The science is clear. It’s basic physics.”
Kralovec plans to attend Saturday night and hopes to convince attendees to write their elected representatives and ask them to seek out bipartisan solutions to climate change.
It’s not just the Tidewater military bases that are vulnerable to sea level rise. Nearly 130 more military installations are also at risk worldwide, Kralovec said.
As the sea levels rise, “the bases will become unusable and all the economies around them will collapse,” he said.
Those scenarios may be decades into the future, but climate change is already putting additional stress on the military, he said. As personnel and equipment respond with humanitarian aid to the increasing number of natural disasters around the world, the military is frequently diverted from its primary mission — protecting the country.
For more information on Saturday’s program, call 540-678-0963.