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June 27, 2011

Virginia Beach Sans Beach

Here's some recommended reading from yesterday's Washington Post on the overwhelming implications of climate disruption for city officials in Virginia Beach -- where some fear the encroaching sea will wipe out the iconic beach in a mere 50 years. Sea level is expected to rise 14 to 17 inches within the next century. The discussions going on here may serve as a preview to what countless other coastal cities will face in the coming decades. Here's a snippet of the article:

Within 50 years, a big part of Virginia Beach's identity -- its beach -- could be lost if nothing is done, said [Clay] Bernick, the city's environment and sustainability administrator. Large pieces of land could also be lost to the ocean in Norfolk within a few generations. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns that, outside of greater New Orleans, Hampton Roads is at the greatest risk from sea-level rise for any area its size. [...]

Options for cities and small towns aren't all that reassuring:

The EPA report said governments have three options to deal with sea-level rise: They can stay on the well-worn path of building expensive protection and raising streets and buildings. They can beat an organized retreat from the shore, perhaps by offering financial incentives to people and organizations to move inland. Or they can allow people to do whatever they want for their waterfront properties but tell them in no uncertain terms that they are on their own when the waters rise.

This is a good story to give someone who doesn't think there's any correlation between the climate and the economy. Read the whole article.

-- Brian Foley

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