Sand's End
November 17, 2016 5:20 PM   Subscribe

 
I'm bummed that the beaches of my youth will disappear, never to return, in my lifetime. (I would be far less bummed if they only changed shape.) They will be washed away completely—like the article says, dispersed so thinly along the continental shelf that it will be prohibitively expensive for future generations who may have solved climate change to recover.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:32 PM on November 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


i guess i better get back to the shore club while i still can
posted by poffin boffin at 5:40 PM on November 17, 2016


I'll miss Yardbird and Puerto Sagua.
posted by jonmc at 5:42 PM on November 17, 2016


I had no idea that beaches were being maintained by dredged or trucked-in sand for so many years. Live and learn.
posted by Orlop at 5:44 PM on November 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


omg tho i'm crying lols a little about the barge full of gleaming white powdery sand coming in through customs.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:45 PM on November 17, 2016 [19 favorites]


I guess the good news is that this is only a temporary problem for Miami Beach.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:00 PM on November 17, 2016 [21 favorites]


"You have squandered your sand" sounds like something the mayor of Amity would say.
posted by srboisvert at 6:19 PM on November 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Just read Carl Hiaasen's latest, Razor Girl. This plays an important part in the plot. Hiaasen writes from first hand knowledge of Florida.
posted by lhauser at 6:32 PM on November 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


While I love a beautiful beach, is it wrong that my first thought is, from an environmental perspective, this is so the least of our problems?
posted by pt68 at 6:54 PM on November 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


yeah, i agree with that completely but at the same time, a pretty good way of getting the 1% to care about shit like this is to have it directly and adversely affect them. stuff like "the value of your multibillion dollar property is rapidly becoming multimillions instead" might actually wake them the fuck up. it'll be too late by then obviously but whoever is left can enjoy that "we told you so".
posted by poffin boffin at 7:28 PM on November 17, 2016 [17 favorites]


Is there money to be made in black market white sand? Asking for a friend...
posted by JohnFromGR at 7:31 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


yeah, i agree with that completely but at the same time, a pretty good way of getting the 1% to care about shit like this is to have it directly and adversely affect them. stuff like "the value of your multibillion dollar property is rapidly becoming multimillions instead" might actually wake them the fuck up. it'll be too late by then obviously but whoever is left can enjoy that "we told you so".

Which is what makes the mention of Mar-A-Lago so fascinating. You have to wonder if the Donald talks to his underlings about this and tells them climate change is a Chinese hoax, and then they come back with, well, that hoax is seriously fucking up your property values, numbnuts.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:47 PM on November 17, 2016 [17 favorites]


Sand's end. Now what? Condo's end.
posted by BentFranklin at 7:52 PM on November 17, 2016


> Which is what makes the mention of Mar-A-Lago so fascinating. You have to wonder if the President-Elect talks to his underlings about this and tells them climate change is a Chinese hoax, and then they come back with, well, that hoax is seriously fucking up your property values, numbnuts.

I believe that he deals with the cognitive dissonance of underlings telling him things he doesn't want to hear by firing them and finding new underlings.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:00 PM on November 17, 2016 [27 favorites]


In related news, global sea ice is far, far below the previous record low for this time of year - it's increasingly likely we'll see an ice-free north pole during our lifetimes.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 8:11 PM on November 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


You have to wonder if the Donald talks to his underlings about this and tells them climate change is a Chinese hoax, and then they come back with, well, that hoax is seriously fucking up your property values, numbnuts.

i think he's too stupid and arrogant to understand that other people can have smart important and above all factual things to say. he has the sarah palin "we don't need no stinking experts" disease.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:23 PM on November 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


i think he's too stupid and arrogant to understand that other people can have smart important and above all factual things to say. he has the sarah palin "we don't need no stinking experts" disease.

Worst. Starship. Captain. Ever.
posted by valkane at 8:27 PM on November 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


While I love a beautiful beach, is it wrong that my first thought is, from an environmental perspective, this is so the least of our problems?

if it's wrong, I don't wanna be right.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:35 PM on November 17, 2016


Most of this is old news. This is where I try to understand what the normal person thinks about our environmental debt.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 8:36 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


New band name: "Spite Groins"
posted by ostro at 8:39 PM on November 17, 2016 [14 favorites]


Fighting over beach sand while Miami floods. Long term planning at its best.
posted by benzenedream at 8:53 PM on November 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


Coastal geomorphology is fascinating stuff. A long while ago, I was in charge of a beach renourishment grants program. Felt like King Cnut, pissing into the wind. Rich fuckers would complain about the quality of the sand, too fine or not fine enough. And didn't want groynes (note spelling, journalist) because they weren't pretty enough. The sand in Port Phillip goes up in winter, down in summer and has done for the past 7000 years. As an embayment, it's pretty much a closed system so the permanent loss issues aren't there. Still, interesting public policy.
posted by wilful at 9:03 PM on November 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


No, really, this is common. Land has value. Folks do what they can to maintain. Galveston was Carthage to New Orleans once upon a time. I suspect folks would be surprised how long old grudges hang on.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 9:09 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sand piracy: huge, common, disastrous. Farmers in India get killed when they protest their fields vanishing. It's used for concrete as well as beach replenishment.
posted by clew at 10:13 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not a first world crisis alone or even primarily in numbers. The community my kids come from in Cambodia is gone because partly because of illegal sand dredging. Small time fishing in the river and the people who lived along and in the river in Cambodia are literally losing their land to overseas buyers. It's surreal to sometimes think that my daughter who worked in a place built on reclaimed land with purchased sand might have walked across literal dirt from where she was born, both illegally trafficked for profit to Singapore through whitewashing intermediaries. Sand theft is like rainforest slashing except the ecosystem destruction is covered up by the waves for a while. Fish catches shrink, land crumbles away, local communities vanish.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:24 PM on November 17, 2016 [25 favorites]


This would probably be hell on the ecosystem (though I suspect there's not much of an ecosystem anyway if they're continually burying it in new sand), but couldn't they just put in a sea wall right at the shoreline such that the beach is not a beach so much as a big sandbox next to the ocean?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:28 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


but couldn't they just put in a sea wall right at the shoreline such that the beach is not a beach so much as a big sandbox next to the ocean?

That's a groyne. They stop the flow of sand and trap it in one spot, but by doing so the beaches downstream are robbed of that sand. For a good example, look at Waikiki Beach on google maps. You can see where the seawalls have been built to capture the sand, on the east side of the seawalls you have big sandy beaches, on the west side the beach is missing. Duke Kahanamoku Beach and Kuhio Beach are exactly what you describe, big sandboxes that are open on one side to the ocean and they still have to be replenished.
posted by peeedro at 11:18 PM on November 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also worth listening to the recent 99% Invisible episode on artificial land. Huge amounts of off-coast sand gets captured to turn into land; there's stories of whole islands being taken from Cambodia to expand the footprint of Singapore..
posted by kaibutsu at 11:27 PM on November 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


that hoax is seriously fucking up your property values, numbnuts

Warmist conspiracy a disaster for jobs in Miami! SAD!
posted by flabdablet at 11:28 PM on November 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


That's a very interesting article, thanks for posting.

Here on the Dutch coast, this very problem was recently tackled by by building the Zandmotor (Sand Engine), a huge artificial sandy peninsula meant to make replenishing the beaches unnecessary for at least 20 years. Basically, in 2011 they dredged up an enormous mass of sand from the North Sea, built a giant sandbar on the shore (just a few kilometres from where we live, actually), and now natural erosion is expected to gradually disperse it along the coast.

It seems to be working quite well (promotional video), although it's too early to tell if it'll turn out more effective than local beach replenishment. If it does, it's possible these things will pop up on other coasts all over the world, since there'a been quite a lot of international interest (the video mentions Norfolk in England already making concrete plans).

The process has been made more interesting by the sand doing some unexpected things, such as forming a surprise lagoon, tidal creeks and areas of quicksand, so the sand engine requires some monitoring and managing of its own. (And so far no seal colony, which I've been really hoping for.) But it is still a very impressive venture.
posted by sively at 1:32 AM on November 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


seriously if i ever need to terraform a planet i am hiring a bunch of dutch people
posted by murphy slaw at 3:57 AM on November 18, 2016 [27 favorites]


They're also the tallest people in the world. A shrewd backup plan.
posted by pracowity at 4:05 AM on November 18, 2016 [15 favorites]


This just in: bringing your own sand to the beach totally a great idea, here's James on location reporting in the coal situation in Newcastle.
posted by idiopath at 4:08 AM on November 18, 2016


My kid smuggles a bucket of sand home each time in his shoes.
posted by pracowity at 4:48 AM on November 18, 2016


seriously if i ever need to terraform a planet i am hiring a bunch of dutch people

They're also the tallest people in the world. A shrewd backup plan.


This is a complete derail, but I have to share this: While attending the memorial service for Mrs. Mosley's grandmother a few weeks ago, the minister (who was a very old friend of hers) talked of their Dutch upbringing and let loose the phrase, "If ya ain't Dutch, ya ain't much".
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:49 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Invisible Hand will have to make smaller sand castles, I guess.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:02 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Invisible Hans already does that.
posted by pracowity at 5:09 AM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


For a good example, look at Waikiki Beach on google maps. You can see where the seawalls have been built to capture the sand, on the east side of the seawalls you have big sandy beaches

Hah. I looked at your link, and it's just like I remembered it from 1969: water's edge, then 10 feet of sand, then a hotel wall/cliff. For a big sandy beach, you have to scroll to the left where Fort Derussy is.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:57 AM on November 18, 2016


I'd guess the Mussolini of Mar A Lago don't care whether climate change is happening or not, because he (and a large proportion of other climate change deniers) won't be around when the shit really hits the fan. So, on the minus side he and they won't get to experience the fallout of their actions. On the plus side, well, they'll be dead.
posted by Existential Dread at 6:24 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]




Given that Miami will soon be underwater, the sand shortage won't matter.

I imagine tourism will adapt, selling it as a luxurious Art Deco-themed diving attraction. Perhaps even devise some kind of underwater neon lighting to add to the spectacle.
posted by acb at 7:43 AM on November 18, 2016


I imagine tourism will adapt, selling it as a luxurious Art Deco-themed diving attraction. Perhaps even devise some kind of underwater neon lighting to add to the spectacle.

"Disney's Venice on the East Coast"
posted by Talez at 7:51 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I cannot get over how perfectly a huge dump truck dumping sand into the ocean symbolizes the level of futility of capitalist industrial solutions against climate change. I can feel my mind looking at that and going "That is a symbol, it is a staged photo, no, hold on..."
posted by bdc34 at 8:16 AM on November 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


Small time fishing in the river and the people who lived along and in the river in Cambodia are literally losing their land to overseas buyers.
Holy shit, this is what's going on in Vietnam too, isn't it?

When I visited, one river trip was a creepy juxtaposition of "no dredging the river" signs and "hurriedly dredging the river" boats. I assumed they were pulling up clay for the brick factories and construction that seemed to be ubiquitous, but if they're selling sand too (or even predominantly, from the news stories I'm reading now) then there's no stopping the problem until there's nothing left but rock, is there?

Some of these stories are talking about "frequent landslides", with entire houses tossed into the rivers....
posted by roystgnr at 8:42 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, clew's sand piracy link. I have now been exposed to a whole new horror of climate change: parts of other countries are *actually stolen* to shore up the rich countries of the world.
posted by tavella at 9:51 AM on November 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


I mean, I guess it's just a concrete version of what colonialism has done for centuries, but still, holy shit!
posted by tavella at 9:52 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had no idea that beaches were being maintained by dredged or trucked-in sand for so many years. Live and learn.

I see Waikiki has already come up in this thread, so yeah. I grew up knowing about replenished sand, and the folks I know from Florida did as well.

One of the newer (though still about 15-20 years old, mind) resort developments I'm aware of built artificial lagoons for their guests rather than use the traditional wide-open stretch of beach, presumably with sand retention in mind.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:56 AM on November 18, 2016


In related news, global sea ice is far, far below the previous record low for this time of year - it's increasingly likely we'll see an ice-free north pole during our lifetimes.

Great news for ports in the northeast US/Canada that ship goods to China! Bad news for basically everyone else.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:57 AM on November 18, 2016


Something something hourglass metaphor
posted by oulipian at 10:04 AM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


In light of the problems caused by the porous bedrock, worrying about beach erosion is pretty much a contemporary equivalent of rearranging the chaise lounges on the sand of Titanic Beach. You can build all the sea walls you want but they can't stop a storm surge flooding up from beneath the surface of the ground.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:37 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think I've seen research saying that the chalk cliffs of SE England are eroding much faster than they would have without the sand and gravel at their bases having been harvested for building. Can't find the overall article. Did find a Daily Mail headline reporting it as France now farther away! ((a) Surely a parody. (b) Also, obviously not true.)

There's not much that capitalism's globalization does to the periphery that it didn't do to the worst-off at home first.
posted by clew at 3:32 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


"If ya ain't Dutch, ya ain't much"

I'm halfway there. My maternal grandparents were children of Dutch immigrants, one born in Holland, Mich., the other in Holland, Neb.
posted by lhauser at 4:02 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


This thread has made me realize that the Netherlands is Millhouse.
posted by Diablevert at 4:09 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Build the Wall, and Make Denmark Pay for It

Stay with me here. If your neighbour re‐grades their lot and that turns your lot into a pond, you can sue them for the cost of replacing damaged property and force them to fix the drainage issue.

Greenland is Danish property. The water from their melting ice cap is flooding coastal real estate everywhere. Q.E.D. owners of coastal real estate should sue Denmark.

Denmark can counter‐sue for the damage others’ greenhouse gases have caused to their ice cap, but land on Greenland is cheap and may actually have increased in value thanks to more hospitable temperatures, so it’s certainly a net win for the rest of the world.

*This is not actually how international law works.
posted by Fongotskilernie at 6:06 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Clew: "It's used for concrete as well as beach replenishment."

And that's a competing use in a contest whose winner is clear -- concrete is the most common manmade material, according to Robert Courland's Concrete Planet.
posted by key_of_z at 10:04 AM on November 29, 2016


« Older “Did these writers...not think about the...   |   Grandma Texts Wrong Teen for Thanksgiving, Now... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments