US Cities Are Sinking Into The Ocean, And It Has Nothing To Do With Wild Weather

(Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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A study published Wednesday detailed how coastal cities across the U.S. are gradually sinking into the ocean, threatening millions of Americans and the entire geography of the nation.

Fluctuations in sea-level are nothing new to the extensive geological history of planet Earth, but it’s a big deal when societies completely ignore this normalized process and keep adding more weight to shallow coastal land. When land starts to sink into the ocean, the process is called “coastal subsidence,” and it is currently threatening a population of up to 273,000 Americans, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

This might not sound like a lot of people at risk from this natural process, but it equates to 1 in 50 people across 32 cities. And in my professional opinion (as a graduate in this field of science), I feel like these numbers are vastly underestimated. The authors themselves also note that many of the values provided in their study are “conservative,” which only makes the results that much more scary.

The study argues that the process of coastal subsidence is “often underrepresented in coastal-management policies and long-term urban planning.” This process is particularly rough for the Gulf and East Coasts. New York City, Atlantic City, Virginia Beach, Charleston (South Carolina), Savannah (Georgia), Galveston, Freeport, Corpus Christi and a number of other population hubs are located in these areas.

Many parts of California are also at risk thanks to land subsidence, including parts of San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Orange County and San Diego. (RELATED: Oldest Stilted Village Found Behind 100,000 Spikes)

Failing to account for the rate of coastal land subsidence while planning for potential sea-level rise will likely make all business and governmental goals utterly redundant. It’s like planning for wildfires by building up stocks of water, while not bothering to clear flammable materials to stop the fire in the first place.

As cities sink under their own weight, and sea-level change combines with extreme weather events to make natural disasters more prevalent for humans — not more common, as we cannot discern the exact frequency of historical natural phenomena — preparing for the worst sounds like the only option. (RELATED: Croatian Archaeologists Find 7,000-Year-Old Preserved Road Under Water)

It also doesn’t help that stupid people clearly give others stupid ideas on how to stop the consequences of living in a flood zone. For example, one community just paid more than $500,000 to dump 14,000 tons of sand in front of their homes to stop them from flooding, only for all the sand to wash away within three days.