Study predicts Wilmington area beaches possibly unlivable by year 2100

Published: Jul. 13, 2017 at 9:19 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2017 at 7:50 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Unlivable.

That's what a new study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists said about Wilmington's surrounding beaches by the year 2100. The study found that flooding due to rising sea levels could become chronic in our area by 2100.

Wilmington's nearby beaches are just some of the 490 communities on the East and Gulf Coasts that are predicted to experience chronic flooding by 2100.

According to Mike Giles, a coastal advocate with North Carolina Coastal Federation, residents and the government need to start making changes now to turn back climate change's effects.

"We're going to have to start thinking long range and adapting to the changes that are coming," he said.

Wrightsville Beach has started making changes.

According to Town Manager Tim Owens, the town invests heavily in maintaining infrastructure and in beach nourishment. Although he said they do pour money into issues related to sea level rise, it's not the town's No. 1 issue.

"We're concerned about it. We don't think about it daily, but it's on our long term planning," Owens said.

Giles said he thinks everyone needs to start adapting to changes on the local and federal levels. Flooding and sea level rise isn't a small problem, he said.

"It's not just an inconvenience. It's going to be a health hazard. It's going to be a cost," Giles said. "It's going to be a job eater if we adapt correctly, or a job killer, if we just sit here like an ostrich in the water.

"Some people say it's a hoax. It's not a hoax. Sea level rise is happening."

If we don't start making changes, like investing more in infrastructure and prohibiting people from building on land that floods easily, Wilmington's coastal community will end up like the study's prediction, he said.

"The coast is the economic engine of North Carolina," Giles said. "Billions of dollars are created through tourism. People make their living at the beach, on the waters, in the waters, by fishing and oystering. As these areas are changed by rising sea levels, and flooding, those whole ecosystems are changing."

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.