How Half the World’s Beaches Could Disappear by the End of the Century

by Kunaal Venugopal

According to a study by Nature Climate Change, half of the world’s beaches could disappear by the end of the 21st century due to climate change. Climate change has resulted in coastal erosion and rising sea levels. Researchers at the European Union’s Joint Research Center believe that no response to these factors would result in “near extinction” of half the world’s beaches by the year 2100. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the global sea level average could rise by 0.95 feet by the end of the century. The most pertinent factor in considering how severe the damage to the beaches could be is greenhouse gas emissions.

The disappearance of beaches could leave many cities more susceptible to storms. Beaches act as protection against waves, but if these beaches are destroyed, the waves could severely damage many cities across the world. Some of the more vulnerable regions of the world to the disappearance of beaches are parts of Africa, Australia, Central America, along with many smaller island nations. These threatened beaches are in areas with high populations, emphasizing the pertinence of combating this problem.

So, what are the solutions?

Prevention of beach erosion includes methods such as sand dunes, sand bags, and vegetation. However, these solutions have drawbacks. Namely, sand will continue to be pulled away from beaches. Other solutions, such as seawalls and plastic geotubes, provide more protection. However, a byproduct of these resolutions is the disaster brought to nearby ecosystems. The problem that must be addressed is the underlying source of the disappearing beaches, climate change. Confronting the issue of climate change will not only help against beach erosion but also prove beneficial by helping to bring the world away from the seemingly inescapable path it is headed for. 

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