Professor Robert Constanza
25 October 2021
Coastal communities around the world are facing increasing threats from tropical cyclones. Climate change is causing rising sea levels and bigger, more frequent storms.
Many coastal communities are pondering what to do. Should they build massive seawalls in a bid to protect existing infrastructure? Do they give up on their current coastal locations and retreat inland? Or is there another way?
In the US, the US Army Corps of Engineers has proposed building a 20-foot high giant seawall to protect Miami, the third most populous metropolis on the US east coast. The US$6 billion proposal is tentative and at least five years off, but sure to be among many proposals in the coming years to protect coastal communities from storms.
But seawalls are expensive to build, require constant maintenance and provide limited protection.
Consider China, which already has a huge number of seawalls built for storm protection. A 2019 study analysed the impact of 127 storms on China between 1989 and 2016.
Coastal wetlands were far more cost effective in preventing storm damages. They also provided many other ecosystem services that seawalls do not.
Professor Robert Constanza joins the Institute for Global Prosperity in January as Professor of Ecological Economics
Image credit: Matt Hardy on Unsplash
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