The Green Case for Not Rebuilding Jersey Shore Beaches

Rebecca Greenfield, writing for the Atlantic Wire:

Remaking the beaches is bad for the planet. And do we really want to do that since maybe doing things that are bad for Earth is what got us into this? Also, with climate change a comin’ (already here?), we can expect more storms like this, say a lot of people, so perhaps making a replica of life pre-Sandy isn’t the best tactic. 

There’s more than just a “green case” for not rebuilding them, there’s a strong economic one, too. Barrier islands are amorphous stuff. We never should have built permanent anything on them. Want proof that they can change frequently and in big ways? Take North and South Stradbroke Islands in Australia. They used to be one island until a storm in 1896 slashed them in two. Why do we think such a thing couldn’t happen to the Jersey Shore?

Plus, there’s a limited supply of the sand required to replenish beaches, as Cornelia Dean notes in her reporting for the New York Times:

“We know from geological surveys — and New Jersey is a prime example — that offshore sand, high-quality sand, is a highly finite resource,” said S. Jeffress Williams, a coastal scientist with the United States Geological Survey and the University of Hawaii.

Underwater ridges of sand lie offshore, but engineers must go farther and farther (and spend more and more) to find them, Mr. Williams said, adding that eventually “it is not going to be there.”

Do we want to spend it on the Jersey Shore, now? I get the feeling there will come a day when we really need beach sand and there won’t be any left.

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