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  • Op-Ed: How to save beaches and coastlines from climate change disasters

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Op-Ed: How to save beaches and coastlines from climate change disasters

Source(s):  Los Angeles Times

By Michael Beck

The frequency of natural disasters has soared in recent decades. Total damage topped $210 billion worldwide in 2020. With climate change, the costs attributed to coastal storms will increase dramatically.

At the same time, coastal habitats such as wetlands and reefs are being lost rapidly. Some 20% of the world’s mangroves were lost over the last four decades. More than half of the Great Barrier Reef was degraded by bleaching in 2020 alone. In California, we have lost more than 90% of our coastal marshes.

Coastal habitats serve as a critical first line of defense, and their loss puts communities at even greater risk from coastal flooding. Coral reefs work as natural breakwaters and reduce flooding by breaking waves offshore. Wetlands such as marshes and mangroves protect coastlines by dampening storm surge and waves; they also prevent erosion and can build new land.


Identifying coastal habitats as national infrastructure would help ensure that we quickly rebuild them after storms just as we do constructed infrastructure. Perversely, coral reef restoration in the U.S. is vastly more expensive than elsewhere because of special permitting requirements. Successful oyster reef restoration in the U.S. can provide lessons that could be applied to coral reefs.

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  • Publication date 30 Nov -0001

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