California Against the Sea

Below excerpts are from a July 7th article in The Los Angeles Times. The full article is available here.

The coastline is eroding with every tide and storm, but everything built before we knew better is fixed in place with nowhere to go…

There are only so many ways to play against the rising sea. Seawalls are one option, but they come with a hidden cost — forcing the sand before them to wash away. For every new seawall protecting a home or a road, a beach for the people is sacrificed.

Adding sand to disappearing beaches is another tactic, but that race against nature lasts only so long as there’s money and enough sand.

Then there’s what scientists and economists and number-crunching consultants call “managed retreat”: Move back, relocate, essentially cede the land to nature. These words alone have roiled the few cities bold enough to utter them. Mayors have been ousted, planning documents rewritten, campaigns waged over the very thought of turning prime real estate back into dunes and beaches…

Returning after mudslides and wildfire. Rebuilding in flood zones. The human urge to outmatch nature is age-old. We scoff at the fabled frog that boiled to death in a pot of slowly warming water — but refuse to confront the reality of the sea as it pushes deeper into our cities.

We’ve all played by the shore and built castles in the sand, but seem to forget what happens next: The ocean always wins.

Continue reading here.

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