There is a real concern that by the end of this century, half of the world’s beaches could be gone. The main worry is that many of the world’s most populous cities are located near the oceans. It is estimated that by 2100, half of the world’s beaches will disappear due to rising sea levels.
Climate change and the world’s shrinking beaches
Half of the world’s beaches will disappear by the end of the century, because of climate change or global warming. Many argue that climate change is a normal condition of the planet, and not caused by humans. But believing that isn’t going to change the fact that it is happening.
Beaches are more than just a place for tourists to sunbathe, they are necessary as a protective barrier against the ocean. If it weren’t for beaches, many cities would be continually flooded and destroyed by storm surges.
There is plenty of proof that the Earth is warming, and it is most likely due to certain gases being emitted from industry and other manmade pollution. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
These trapped gases create a greenhouse effect, effectively trapping heat. The greenhouse effect causes the Earth to heat up, which leads to the melting of glaciers. As more glaciers melt, more freshwater is released into the oceans, causing them to rise.
Scientists have analyzed three decades of satellite photos to monitor coastal changes. Using this data along with simulations, they have determined how climate change will affect the coastlines. And what they have found is a cause for concern.
By the end of this century, it is estimated that half of the beaches in the world will have eroded by 100 meters or about 325 feet. That is a little over the length of a football field.
Researches went on to say, that in the latter half of the 21st century, the percent of beaches swallowed up by the oceans will accelerate. By 2100, as much as 83,000 miles of beach will be lost to the sea.
Certain countries will lose more than others with Australia projected to lose 9,000 miles of beach property. Other countries that will lose a large percentage of their beaches include the United States, China, Chile, Mexico, Gambia, Canada, El Salvador, and Russia.
Cities in danger
Beaches are the coastal city’s first line of defense against hurricanes and storm surges. As the world’s beaches disappear, coastal cities become more vulnerable to dangers from the ocean surges.
Coastal zones include some of the most densely populated cities in the world. As beaches disappear, these cities will experience worsening storm surges and flooding, causing portions of cities to become inhabitable. And property insurance could become unaffordable.
Cities that rely on tourists flocking to their beaches will lose a substantial dollar amount from the loss of tourism. Not only will the property be damaged, but the wildlife that lives near the coasts will also become endangered.
How can we save the beaches?
We need to slow down the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere before we reach a point of no return. Researchers found that if we can reduce greenhouse emissions and keep temperature increases at 2 to 3 degrees Celsius, we could prevent as much as 40% of shoreline loss. This reduction is less than the 1.5 degree Celsius goal that is set in the Paris Agreement.
Scientists look to the Netherlands for ideas that can help develop coastal planning that could lessen beach erosion while creating stable coastlines. The closer we can abide by the Paris Agreement, the easier it will be to prevent beach erosion.