NBC Evening News: ‘All Along America’s Coast, People Are Discovering Beach Living May Not Be Sustainable’

On the sixth-month anniversary of superstorm Sandy, NBC evening news looked at whether rising seas and ever-worsening storms could destroy beach living.

Of course the answer is that it could and probably will on our current emissions path:

NBC: “The three feet of sea level rise predicted by the end of the century could swamp the jersey shore and redraw the coastline of florida. more immediate is the one-two punch of rising seas and storm surge. Scientists estimate some $500 billion of residential real estate will be at risk for severe coastal flooding by 2030.”

Scientist: “We have always been able to depend upon a constant shoreline. It’s going to be a hard lesson to learn. This is a new planet we are living on.”

It would have been nice if once in the story, NBC could have brought themselves to utter the words “climate change” or “global warming” — let alone mention the carbon pollution that is causing this ever-worsening situation.

The bottom line is that unless we act ASAP there will hardly be any real beaches left in a few decades (see “Polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050“). And post-2050, seas rising several inches a decade will make it impossible to sustain coastal properties, particularly in areas threatened by supercharged storms and the deadly storm surges they bring.

The video is here:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

64 Responses to NBC Evening News: ‘All Along America’s Coast, People Are Discovering Beach Living May Not Be Sustainable’

  1. Merrelyn Emery says:

    A fried told me yesterday that he watched a violent storm coupled with a King Tide over the weekend. It totally destroyed the beach. “I’ve never seen anything like it before” he said. So this is what the world has been waiting for, INSALIB, ME

  2. Jeff Poole says:

    Here in Brisbane (Queensland, not that interloper in the US! *grins*) we’ve now lost the beaches on the holiday areas both north and south of us – The Sunshine and Gold Coasts.

    Both local councils are spending big to ‘restore’ them – which means shipping in sand from somewhere else.

    Our movement has made a huge strategic error in discussing sea level rise, we talked about ‘property damage’- which only affects folk right near the edge – instead of talking about ‘beach loss’, which affects every surfer, every swimmer and everyone who just likes to sunbake…

    I’ve watched my favourite beach on the Sunshine Coast take two nosedives into the ocean in the last couple of years. The most recent storm (Ex-Cyclone Oswald) has eroded sand right back to the trees that we get on older dunes here.

    It’s probably too late to ‘save’ the beaches anywhere now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t now point to a huge loss of amenity and say ‘Climate Change did that, if you want more it’s coming, just carry on doing nothing about emissions.’

  3. David Hart says:

    It is quite noticeable where I live (South Beach). There is no longer a flat area at the water’s edge. It has been replaced with a slope.

  4. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    What we have experienced so far is just the beginning. We are already committed to worse, perhaps even much worse. Higher seas, plus bigger storms, plus slower moving storms equals much more damage. There is so much uncertainty in how fast the ocean will rise.

    We need to act while the future is one that we can adapt to.

  5. Paula says:

    I used to live in Louisiana; I lived there for six years. Went to Holly Beach once. It wasn’t that much of a beach to begin with. The estuarial effect of the Mississippi, dumping silt all along the coastline, ruins any attempt at a beach as most people think of it. They keep trucking sand down here and soon, it gets so admixed with silt that it looks more like mud and stains your clothing.

  6. Leif says:

    Bush is not the person to blame. Bush is just a pawn of Big Money that profits from the pollution of the commons. As is Obama, most of congress, main stream media, and of course lets not forget the Tea Baggers that carry the water for all of the above. So the question becomes: Who is holding the bag for the equity loss of that inundated “beach front?” Not those that profit from polluting the commons that caused all of the above. Not the socially enabled capitalistic system and hidden Swiss bank accounts. No, it is “We the People!” What a deal.

  7. Tom King says:

    It appears that reporters are trying to warn about Climate Change without using the actual words. This indicates that they might be hindered by some sort of censorship wall that blocks certain words from appearing on the air. Fascinating moment in history.

  8. Paul Klinkman says:

    Beach living is subsidized by federal flood insurance. If you can see a potential monster hurricane coming 7 days away on a weather map, you can run, not walk, to the feds and buy some discounted federal flood insurance against it. The same deal goes if you notice record snow pack in the mountains upriver.

  9. BobbyL says:

    A silver lining is that loss of beaches should greatly reduce the incidence of malignant melanoma which has been rapidly increasing in the US over the past several decades.

  10. The mounting insurance payouts to shore dwellers will reach a breaking point. Like much of our oil-predicated lifestyle, they’re simply not sustainable.

    I would rather my tax dollars or my premiums in any insurance pool go to relocating primary households. I’m not thrilled about paying for homes to be rebuilt, certainly not second homes.

    But I imagine everyone will try to maintain the status quo until it just breaks down. There won’t be any orderly exit.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    More heat going into oceans last decade or so, more thermal expansion-bingo! They’ll (the disasters) come thick and fast now. It will be a treat, a ghastly hoot, to watch Tony ‘Climate Change is crap’ Abbott deal with it, if he doesn’t self-destruct between now and September.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Beaches are gone, everywhere. A sad memory, like pristine, or near pristine, coral reefs. I believe that a squirrel could, if wishing for a sea-side holiday, have once been able to travel from the Mississippi to the Atlantic without leaving the trees, so vast and dense was the forest. The Anthropocene will be brief, followed by the Thanatocene.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Rab, don’t mince words, comrade. Much, much, worse is barreling towards us a warp speed. When the oceans die, when they have acidified, stratified thermally and the ocean circulation has broken down, and they start belching hydrogen sulphide….God, I’m depressing myself.

  14. Terry Fillow says:

    Areas will start being uninsurable along the coast. I think it is already happening in some areas.

  15. jyyh says:

    Yes, I think no US coasts are on the few areas where post-glacial rebound will exceed sea level rise. But Hudson Bay will look somewhat the same for a bit longer.

  16. ozajh says:

    You only have to take one look at the demographics of shore dwellers to KNOW that TPTB will keep going with, and subsidising, the status quo until well AFTER things have broken down. History provides many, many examples of political elites doing this, with Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat Brioche” being far from the worst.

  17. Paul Magnus says:

    Its not when the beach floods, its when people realize that it is going to flood then its too late.

  18. Paul Magnus says:

    yup, beaches are toast. And most low lying island what ever we do now.

  19. fj says:

    Half a trillion dollars seems like a low figure even just for the US.

    Humanity loves the coasts.

  20. Superman1 says:

    ‘We the People’ are the ones who have been burning the fossil fuel, who are burning it, and who will continue burning it like there’s no tomorrow. Who else do you think should pay the bill?

  21. BillD says:

    500 billion US$ of flooding by 2030 the piece says. I predict that a smaller but stronger storm (than Sandy) will hit New York City and will cause 500 billion in damages. It really won’t take much in the way of flooding to cause a $ 1 billion in damages along the US East Coast. Will we try to rebuild New Orleans when another hurricane strikes? It’s ridiculous that the piece did not mention why scientists expect sea level to rise. Still, NBC News is better than the North Carolina proposed law against using science to predict risk of sea level rise.

  22. Joan Savage says:

    On a family trip to Atlantic City in the 1960s, my family ended up stuck in traffic on the one road to Atlantic City from Philadelphia.

    As the station wagon idled in stifling heat, my mother observed that in event of a storm it would be difficult to evacuate Atlantic City.

    Looking at a map, that’s still true.
    It’s time to test the limits of adaptation and conduct evacuation exercises. Not just a few experts in a room with a map, but engaging the whole population.

    One thing Superstorm Sandy should have taught us is that the areal extents of superstorms are so great that escaping one requires longer lead times and more resources to get a dense population out of harm’s way.

    The coastal highways can only work as evacuation routes when the storms are small enough to be able to get to the side of one. Otherwise people have to head inland, and those routes are often limited.

  23. fj says:

    It’s really important not to undervalue the great transition as it provides a sense of scaling with manmade systems and the extraordinary value of natural systems ultimately way undervalued being by definition always outside closed manmade systems and undefined or infinite.

  24. fj says:

    To provide a path towards functional reality it might be worth imagining natural scales diverging from human scale to the very large and to the very small.

  25. Raul M. says:

    Doesn’t the Electoral College and many other constructs of American life have the concept of the people being looked out for by those in power with higher understanding?

  26. Brooks Bridges says:

    How many people would be wearing safety belts today if there were no laws requiring it? How many lives have been saved because of these laws?

    How many lives are shortened because people won’t even floss their freaking teeth? We won’t get into diet, exercise, etc.

    Point is: “We the people” are by and large NOT that wise and of course are NOT going to do what is necessary to save a livable climate without massive government intervention. Which is precisely why so many Repubs are unwilling to admit climate change is happening. To keep harping on “We the people” is pointless.

  27. Brooks Bridges says:

    My enjoyment of my “dream” trip down the ICW and to the FL Keys and Bahamas in a little sailboat two years ago was constantly tempered with sadness that my grandchildren, at my age, could not repeat that experience. So much of the “scenery” would be underwater.

    Even assuming the world by that time allowed such luxuries.

  28. fj says:

    Consciousness is one of science’s great unsolved problems and moving dramatically away from normal human scale changes greatly how we must function in the world.

    So scale is very important.

  29. Jim B says:

    To me it truly is like watching an episode of The Twilight Zone.

  30. fj says:

    Evolution works way too slow — with perhaps epigenetics providing for some accelerated adaptability — but, intelligence is the true engine of rapid dramatic change.

  31. BobbyL says:

    For all the talk about building barriers to protect NYC it still isn’t happening. Apparently it will take more than Sandy. I think barriers are considered too expensive when they might not be needed for many decades. A another big storm could hit NYC this year or it might not happen for 50 or more years. Or the next big storm could hit at low tide rather than high tide. Too many ifs.

  32. Mike Roddy says:

    The worse things get, the more negligent MSM coverage becomes. Nobody is calling our media to account. I made a detailed proposal to do so, which included naming names and boycotting advertisers. It died, just as our civilization will.

  33. fj says:

    Barriers are a huge high risk very expensive long range project and likely not one the type of ecoagile solutions that would be most practical at this time.

  34. Mike Roddy says:

    Yeah, I’m surprised they didn’t put a microphone in front of Anthony Watts, who would say that sea levels will recede, and that we are in a natural cycle.

    MSM performance is really inexcusable.

  35. Mike Roddy says:

    Unfortunately, we don’t have much. We can find a boson, but not the truth right in front of us. And if we do find it, suits on television come up with the corporate revised version.

  36. fj says:

    Where multi-use greatly improves efficiency, for the price, investment in huge cadres of scientists, physicists, geophysicists, oceanographers, etc. would be much better investments to start off.

    Intelligence the premiere ecoagile modality.

  37. fj says:

    And, Bloomberg has expressly acknowledged this from the very beginning he became mayor.

  38. Superman1 says:

    C’mon. We’re not going to get the ‘massive government intervention’ that is required without the consent of ‘we the people’. Congress and the President have both been informed of the gravity of the situation by the intel community; they take no action because the ‘people’ want no action.

  39. Superman1 says:

    I would state it another way; those in power represent them, not necessarily look out for them. Doing nothing about climate change is what the vast majority of the people want, and the politicians’ lack of action reflects this.

  40. Superman1 says:

    In those days; two main ones: White Horse Pike and Black Horse Pike. But, your conclusion holds either way.

  41. Superman1 says:

    A poster named Gnobuddy had it right: we ended up at the wrong stage of evolution; smart enough to have developed these technologies but not smart enough to understand, and have the motivation to control, their adverse effects. For this, he said, we will pay the ultimate price!

  42. catman306 says:

    Business As Usual is a self-regenerating system that can only be broken by powerful outside forces and catastrophes. Climate change, ocean acidification, methane hydrates and tropospheric ozone are only four of many such forces.

    Stand by.

  43. BobbyL says:

    I would say people want the government to address climate change but they don’t want to pay more for electricity, gasoline, or any products that cost more as a result; they don’t want to pay huge sums to developing countries for adaptation; they don’t want to lose their jobs if they are in the fossil industry; they don’t want wind turbines and transmissions lines spoiling their views; they don’t want solar facilities all over the desert areas; they don’t want to pay for expensive solar panels on their roofs; they don’t want to drive less and drive smaller cars; they don’t want to live in compact highly urban areas rather than sprawling suburbs; and they don’t want to stop shopping until they drop.

  44. Leif says:

    The roll of a good leader IMO, is to inform the people of implicit social dangers in understandable terms in order to guide society to fruitful outcomes. Surely ecocide should qualify.

  45. Joan Savage says:

    Delightful to have the detail. Road repairs figured somehow in that childhood memory of ‘one route.’

  46. fj says:

    The story is not over yet.

    In any case, today Climate Progress has provided a timely reply along the same idea with a video worth seeing:

    Why Climate Change Is Not An Environmental Issue?

    A real security emergency (See the video)

  47. fj says:

    And, the way thinking or intelligence is used greatly effects outcomes.

    Most thinking is fast and relatively automatic which is not always a good thing.

    Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow”

  48. fj says:

    Our science and technology has gotten us into this mess; we have advanced considerably, and there is a good chance we will be able to work with what we have right now to get us out of it; not to mention the inevitable more advanced developments.

  49. fj says:

    First, we have to stop the stuff that is causing the crisis. We made it and we can stop it.

    The complexity lies elsewhere probably in how we apply our intelligence and thinking which is normally automatic; but now perhaps, we have to rethink a huge amount of stuff.

  50. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Bobby, so the USA citizen is a different species to the rest of the human population? If not, you’ll have to come up with a better argument, ME

  51. Jeff Poole says:


    Nicely put – consider it stolen! *grins*

  52. Jeff Poole says:

    Is that a silver lining or a brown one?

  53. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Small artists borrow-great artists steal.

  54. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Or, as John Jay is alleged to have often observed, ‘Those people who own this country are going to run this country’. Inevitable, really.

  55. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ME- it’s the ‘Manifest Density’.

  56. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Well, NYC is gone, in fifty years I’d say. Time to move inland. Maybe there’ll be a brief New Venice period, but one mega-hurricane will end that romantic interlude. Similarly London, Shanghai, Holland, Bangladesh. the Nile delta. Time for some sober, not magical, thinking, I’m afraid.

  57. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    We must isolate the ‘Watts bozon’, that turns those exposed to denialist mind poison into bozos.

  58. Mona says:

    I make it a point to bug the media when they do something like this. Sometimes it works, too, even if just one or two people respond. You can join my Facebook group here:

    At least NBC didn’t hedge about what’s going on. I would congratulate Anne Thompson for that but ask what the point of doing the piece is if she doesn’t address what’s causing it and what we can do about it. Thompson is @annenbcnews on Twitter (which is one of the best ways to get reporters to respond), or you can write to NBC Nightly News here:

    The press is what will make We the People care enough to make our leaders do something. It will happen, if we make it.

  59. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    It would take a catagory 3 storm surge to do 500 billion to the new york area, sandy was a cat 2. This assumes a 20 – 30 foot storm surge, and significantly more wind damage. It does not mean a cat 3 at landfall, it could be a large cat 2 that was a strong cat 3 or 4 near cape hattaras or virginia beach. Such a strom will be an incredible nightmare for the region, i dought even sandy is much of a preperation for this.

  60. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Makes me wonder who’s buying all those solars over there Mulga because according to Bobby, it’s not the people, ME

  61. Superman1 says:

    BobbyL, You are right on target; you have crystallized the central problem. And, Merrelyn, it is true throughout the world, not limited to the USA.

  62. Superman1 says:

    “there is a good chance we will be able to work with what we have right now to get us out of it”. Not so! There is the three-legged stool of technical/economic/socio-political that has to be satisfied, and I have yet to see a proposal that addresses all three.

  63. kermit says:

    You have seen plenty of proposals that address the technical. It is trivial; although we would have to tighten the belt, we could, even at this late stage, fix the climate.

    It is of course the social-political that is both necessary and impossible.