This weekend, spread out the beach towel, pop open the umbrella, lather on the SPF 30...and read all about the Northeast’s disappearing coastline. According to a report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council, climate change is already affecting the seven national seashores on the Atlantic coast and “threatens to submerge some of their land within a century."
While climate change is already causing increasing temperatures that affect wildlife and stronger coastal storms that erode beaches and damage park infrastructure, "the biggest threat ultimately to these seashores is that they will be largely, or even entirely, covered by the ocean," says Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. In five of the seven national seashores studied, more than half of the land is low enough to risk becoming submerged by 2100. Those five are Fire Island in New York, Assateague Island in Maryland and Virginia, Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout in North Carolina, and Canaveral in Florida. Sections of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and Cumberland Island in Georgia would also be affected.
Image of Fire Island National Seashore, NY, by iStock/DougSchneiderPhoto.
Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”