Following up on yesterday’s review of The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast by Stanley Riggs, try this related title!
Pilkey, described as colorful and outspoken, provides a brief balanced overview of the urgency of sea- level rise in a global context. This important book breaks a scientifically and politically complex topic into fascinating chapters for the public, defining the scope of the enormous challenges ahead and our options.
2100 seems so far in the future to some, it breeds inertia. Photos visibly show seas already claiming coastal communities, yet it took twenty years of public debate to relocate our Cape Hatteras Lighthouse back 2000 feet in 1999.
Now, rapid response is required. Indonesian scientists believe the airport of its capital, Jakarta (population 8.5 million), will be inundated by 2035. Our Outer Banks could collapse by 2050. As many as 150 million people in the world’s major cities may need engineering structures such as dikes for survival by 2070. Countries like the UK, Netherlands and South Africa are taking positive steps to prepare for inundation of their coasts.
Instead of continually funding relief for predictable disasters after they occur, Pilkey urges government agencies to focus on prevention. He advises planning for a 7 foot rise by 2100 as a cautious approach. Instead of monstrous sea walls and dikes, wherever possible he recommends retreat for a more sustainable future: strategic relocation of roads, buildings and infrastructure. He envisions redesigning with nature to maintain a coast that future generations can enjoy.