CEE Seminar: Handling Climate Change Exposure, Vulnerability, and Risk at the Coast: Everything we are Doing is Wrong!

Jun 15

Saturday, June 15, 2024 - 7:20PM


Robert S. Young, Western Carolina University, Director, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines Professor, Coastal Geology

Despite our best efforts and the expenditure of billions of dollars annually, we are making little progress in coastal resilience. This is despite the fact that coastal engineering projects now dominate the sediment budget along many shorelines like that of New Jersey. The rush to embrace green infrastructure will provide temporary shoreline stabilization in some coastal settings, but will ultimately leave us with neither protection nor the promised ecosystem services. Our efforts towards coastal retreat and buyouts (a truly long-term solution) are restricted largely to low income communities and communities of color. Resort communities continue to receive massive public subsidies to remain in place while supporting the value of investment property. Ultimately, the solution to resilience in much of the coastal zone is not continued public investment, but rather large-scale public disinvestment from much of the oceanfront. And, the only hope for the long-term preservation of coastal ecosystems is not to try to rebuild them in front of homes and roads, but to allow them to move landward as sea level rises. Maybe not everywhere, but in strategic settings.