Coastal Development Jeopardized by Climate Change
With danger of rising sea levels to currently established coastal communities, progress of future coastal development is seriously being hampered.
According to DT, the suggested time limit for new coastal buildings would keep councils from totally ruling out proposals and plans for new developments, in the wake of climate change and rising sea level concerns.
The proposed time limit will allow people to occupy residential lands currently classified and zoned as “at-risk areas”, given those risks are sustainable. Extensions of the proposed time limit will be subjected to periodic evaluation and review based on projected sea level rise.
Yet some residents feel that the proposed time limit is no different than planned retreat, managed retreat, or total abandonment of property. They felt that the proposal would undermine billions in private assets and ultimately prove fatal to investment in those areas.
Recently a study was conducted by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranking top cities of the world which are most vulnerable to climate change extremes. Cities from both developed and developing nations came up in the list, with populations and assets included in the calculations. Miami held the top spot and was described as being on the front lines of climate change followed by Guangzhou, New York, and Kolkata. Several of the cities included in the top 20 had a history of coastal flooding, exacerbated by rising sea levels and local land subsidence.
The study pointed out that incidentally, many of the largest cities of the world are also port cities, with millions of people living in them. About 40 million people are already vulnerable to 1 in 100 year coastal flood events. Projected sea level rises are expected to put more at risk. Belgium, for example, faces greater hazards as its flood protection measures prove more and more inadequate. Bali is engaged in a continuing battle against shoreline erosion especially in its coastal tourism areas. Hawaii spends millions on efforts to widen sections of its chronically eroding Waikiki beach by adding sand to the narrow shores. Progressive sea level rise and more intense coastal flooding threaten to gain the upper hand and overwhelm efforts to save coastal communities at risk.
According to CoastalCare.org, poor coastal development not only affects people and city assets, but also negatively impacts natural beaches. A single building can interfere with natural wind movement and sand transport. Heavily occupied beaches often sustain major damage and even totally ruin natural shore processes. These in turn also mitigate shoreline erosion and coastal flooding, increasing risks to people and assets. Coastal Care recommends two simple concepts on coastal development. First, avoid building homes [and infrastructure] on land that will be underwater in 50 years. Second, avoid building homes [and infrastructure] that will be floored by storms.
Despite warnings of researchers and scientists on sea level rise and climate change-related risks to port cities, many coastal communities still try to push back the advancing ocean in an effort to save and continue development. Whether they will be successful for the next 90 or even 50 years, remains to be seen.
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