Researchers predict that the beaches will be gone in as soon as 50 years.
Coastal development is not only making beaches less accessible, it’s destroying the coast all together. Researchers in the U.K. and the U.S. warn that real estate development is slowly eroding shorelines around the world. In a new book called The Last Beach, professor Andrew Cooper of the University of Ulster and professor Orrin Pilkey of Duke University warn that the construction of sea walls around beach developements are impeding the natural movement of water and sand. Beaches act as a natural defense against the force of ocean waves. Sea walls, however, don’t absorb those forces as effectively as beaches do.
“The wall itself is the problem. If you build a sea wall to protect the shore, the inevitable consequence is that the beach will disappear. The wall cannot absorb the energy of the sea. All beaches with defences ... are in danger. When you build the sea wall, that is the end of the beach,” Cooper told The Guardian.
In fact, Cooper and Pilkey predict that if the current trend of development persists, there will be no beaches left in the developed world in as soon fifty years from now.
“You can have buildings, and you can have beaches, but you can’t have both,” Pilkey told Duke University Press.
What’s a beach resort without beaches? It looks like we’re going to find out what that looks like sooner rather than later. There is a tragic irony in the idea that the very buildings we constructed as a monument to our love for beaches may be the very things that destroy them.