Major sea change predicted for N.C.

A new economic study predicts that the state of North Carolina will face the loss of some 14 of the 17 beaches from Brunswick to Carteret counties by the year 2080. For vacationers along the Carolina coast, that means familiar haunts like Sunset Beach and Atlantic Beach will be submerged — though unless you’re a youngster now, you might not witness the total destruction. And economically, losing this stretch of coast translates into a potential loss of some $3.9 billion, according to a June 21 analysis in The News & Observer of Raleigh.

Focused on tourism, recreation and property damage in North Carolina as a result of climate change, the study zeroed in on four representative counties that included both highly developed shoreline as well as more rural areas. And co-author Okmyung “Paul” Bin, an East Carolina University economist, spoke of losses as high as $6.9 billion once the land is permanently inundated with water.

“Coastal North Carolina has been identified as one of the United States’ most vulnerable regions to climate change,” according to Ben Poulter, a Duke University-trained landscape ecologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, which partnered with economists at three N.C. universities — Appalachian State, UNC-Wilmington and East Carolina — to produce the report, which was funded by the National Commission on Energy Policy.

A summary brochure and the full report are available through Appalachian State’s Department of Economics.

Nelda Holder, news and opinion editor

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