Matthew Jurjonas and Erin Seekamp, associates of the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments, A NOAA Risa Team, have published an opinion paper in Climate and Development. The article describes how rural, minority, and impoverished coastal communities who rely heavily on ecosystem services for protection, disproportionately face the burden of sea level rise.
If climate change mitigation and adaptation are a human right, institutional change is needed that considers coastal ecosystem integrity as a common pool resource. Increasing risks in coastal zones necessitates adopting new and frequently controversial zoning, planning, and management practices, particularly as insurance programmes reform or require bailouts. In the U.S., current coastal policy frameworks employed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state-level authorities incentivize defensive strategies, especially in high-value tourism destinations, despite critiques of inequity and longer-term evidence demonstrating that hardening shorelines shifts erosion patterns. Other coastal regions and developing countries that cannot afford defensive strategies – particularly rural, minority, and impoverished communities located adjacent to estuarine areas – rely heavily on ecosystem services for protection and will likely disproportionately face buyouts, forced relocation, and retreat as seas rise.
The article is available at https://doi.org/10.1080/17565529.2019.1611533