Villagers in the Demak district of Java, Indonesia, help to maintain natural wooden seawalls. Courtesy of Wetlands International To reach Timbulsloko, a village on the north coast of the Indonesian island of Java, we drove for 3 miles along a narrow causeway. All the way, there were lines of houses strung out on either side of the road. But behind them, rather than fields, there was only water, punctuated by half-submerged fences and the remnants of dykes. Something, it was clear, had gone badly wrong here. Two decades before, this had been all land; but since then, the ocean had steadily invaded . Richer residents along the road were rebuilding their houses on new, higher foundations to keep above the rising tides. Other houses were inundated, abandoned, or marooned on tiny islands that could only be reached by rickety walkways. The village cemetery was being washed away – locals said lapping waters occasionally floated decomposing bodies into their living rooms. At the far end of the causeway, in the meeting hall, village leaders discussed the plight of their community and remembered the old days, before the water came. The village of 3,500 people had been on a prosperous, rice-growing […]

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