The northern California city of Pacifica declared a state of emergency last week after crushing waves and powerful rains from El Nino eroded the coastal bluffs leaving apartment buildings and homes teetering on the edge of disaster. Officials have tried to preserve the bluffs by piling rock on the beach below, drilling reinforcement rods into their sides and covering the cliff faces with reinforced concrete. But, erosion accelerated dramatically last week despite their efforts.
Class discussion: Should we spend billions of dollars trying to stop natural erosion along ocean shorelines? What about levees and dams to control natural river flooding and erosion? How many of the world's people live near the the rising oceans? Why have humans always settled near oceans and rivers where they perpetually face the threat of flooding or severe storms? Should the government discourage shoreline building as ocean levels continue to rise amidst climate change?