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Smart coasts urgently needed

Vulnerable communities on the coasts will be impacted by rising sea levels, to a lesser or greater degree. All efforts to counter climate change will not be enough to stop the impact on our coasts and our communities. This is not a question with a binary answer. The answer is that it will happen. The discussion is whether efforts to counteract climate change will slow down the increase in the volumes of seas and bodies of water by how much.

Visualizing this gradual impact is not usually welcomed as a priority in the face of the trivialities of our present. To assist in that visualization, we invite the reader to visit /slr/, an interactive tool of the areas to be impacted in Puerto Rico and the world. The scenarios are disconcerting. It is estimated that by 2100, sea levels will rise between 3 to 10 feet. https://www

Being surrounded by water, our common sense dictates that action is imperative for our island. The now notorious Playa de Córcega in Rincón and the erosion caused there by Hurricane María are examples of the onslaught of climate change, but it is not an isolated event. In addition to the coasts, the impact will be reflected in valleys and bodies of water in the interior. For example, places like the G8 communities will receive an overwhelming impact with population displacement.

Although the protection of communities is paramount, we cannot ignore the importance of our bodies of water in our economy. Whether resident or foreign tourists, our beaches are an attraction for bathers who make them the main economic asset after our human talent. Our beaches are therefore a point of social alignment for residents and visitors, marginalized or comfortable.Conserving them, and reducing the erosion effect, is of interest to environmentalists and economists. Our intellectual leaders in this space have raised awareness of the situation. Our Ada Monzón in her EcoExploratorio and Mark Martin of Vieques and his conservation efforts are warning voices that we should all listen to. Other countries, such as the Maldives, have begun to act against the present threat. Hulhumalé is an island created by the government of that country in response to the coming change.

Our strategy must be timely and intelligent. The creation of reefs, sandbanks, channels and islands on our coasts must be an urgent objective in the social and environmental agenda of our generation. Strategically located, these environmental development points will promote marine flora and fauna while mitigating the erosion visible today on our coasts. Well thought out and developed, they can even promote new water fun spots such as surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking, and shore fishing.The current political cosmos appears to be favorable. On the one hand, we have a White House and Congress determined to support the protection of the environment and infrastructure. On the other hand, our government is experiencing an improvement in its financial capacity to borrow. Whether federal funds or environmental investment, our Smart Coasts must suddenly rise to the top of our national priorities.

Certainly, our generation and those that follow will appreciate a massive initiative to protect our communities, beaches and future.

Published in the El Vocero newspaper, November 28, 2021
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