Adobe Stock Ralf Gosch

Orrin Pilkey, a professor emeritus of geology at Duke University, isn’t kidding when he says there is a “disaster” approaching North Carolina’s coast. The increasingly encroaching sea is putting beaches and coastal buildings and homes at risk. Pilkey says sea levels are rising far beyond average, about an inch per year in some areas along the East Coast, and it’s only a matter of time before the coasts are underwater. The only solution may be to move inland. Abbie Bennett from the News & Observer has more details.

There are “slight differences” to the degree of sea level rise different parts of North Carolina are experiencing, but it’s happening “virtually everywhere, and it’s accelerating,” Pilkey said.

“Except for timing, there is no controversy among scientists regarding the rise in sea levels,” Pilkey said. “We need to plan now for retreat.”

Residents of coastal communities most often feel the effects of sea level rise during increasingly frequent and worsening tidal flooding, major storms and when large swathes of beach are eroded away and require renourishment.

The costly effort of dredging sand from the bottom of the ocean and piling it onto beaches in an attempt to rebuild North Carolina’s — or any state’s — coastline has been the preferred solution to maintaining the shoreline and protecting coastal properties for generations. But it’s needed more and more, Pilkey said. And “it’s an exercise in futility.”

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