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Tom Morris Library: Against the Tide: The Battle for America's Beaches
Title:      Against the Tide: The Battle for America's Beaches
BookID:      212
Authors:      Cornelia Dean
ISBN-10(13):      0231084188
Publisher:      Columbia University Press
Edition:      1st
Number of pages:      296
Language:      Not specified
Rating:      0 
Picture:      cover
Description:      Product Description

Americans love to colonize their beaches. But when storms threaten, high-ticket beachfront construction invariably takes precedence over coastal environmental concerns -- we rescue the buildings, not the beaches. As Cornelia Dean explains in Against the Tide, this pattern is leading to the rapid destruction of our coast. But her eloquent account also offers sound advice for salvaging the stretches of pristine American shore that remain.

The story begins with the tale of the devastating hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, in 1900 -- the deadliest natural disaster in American history, which killed some six thousand people. Misguided residents constructed a wall to prevent another tragedy, but the barrier ruined the beach and ultimately destroyed the town's booming resort business.

From harrowing accounts of natural disasters to lucid ecological explanations of natural coastal processes, from reports of human interference and construction on the shore to clear-eyed elucidation of public policy and conservation interests, this book illustrates in rich detail the conflicting interests, short-term responses, and long-range imperatives that have been the hallmarks of America's love affair with her coast.

Intriguing observations about America's beaches, past and present, include discussions of Hurricane Andrew's assault on the Gulf Coast, the 1962 northeaster that ravaged one thousand miles of the Atlantic shore, the beleaguered beaches of New Jersey and North Carolina's rapidly vanishing Outer Banks, and the sand-starved coast of southern California. Dean provides dozens of examples of human attempts to tame the ocean -- as well as a wealth of lucid descriptions of the ocean's counterattack. Readers will appreciate Against the Tide's painless course in coastal processes and new perspective on the beach.

Amazon.com Review
Castles built on sand are doomed, they say. But in our hunger for an ocean view from the living-room window, we keep building things we expect to last on beaches that never stay still. In Against the Tide, Cornelia Dean, science editor of The New York Times, outlines the global coastal management crisis and all the elaborate engineering methods developed to stave off erosion--revetments, sand-trapping devices, seawalls, groins and jetties, even artificial seaweed beds. In clear, journalistic style, she explains how all of these devices have failed to stop the inexorable march of coastal erosion. And they've failed at a staggering cost to taxpayers, despite the fact that they're usually deployed to protect private property. The world's sandy beaches continue eroding, and nowhere is this more visible than in the U.S., where oceanfront construction has been proceeding at a fast and furious pace for decades. Of course, the perfectly natural process of erosion is only considered a "problem" if it threatens buildings or property. Dean writes: "There is a kind of constituency of ignorance, people who have so much invested in coastal real estate that they do not want to hear how vulnerable it is."

Using examples from Galveston to Cape Cod, and a few places on the West Coast, Dean shows how building each "protective" structure has led to the need for more protection in a game humans are destined to lose to the ocean. "American political institutions," she writes, "are ill-suited to the indeterminacy and elasticity of nature." Part of the problem is that people are reluctant to admit that natural processes threatening our carefully planned and paid-for civilization are good and necessary parts of a dynamic ecosystem, and our efforts to prevent them will invariably buy us more trouble. Dean believes that it's time to make peace with the rising sea level and stop fighting nature. Against the Tide should be required reading for waterfront property owners, coastal zone managers, the Army Corps of Engineers, and beach lovers everywhere. --Therese Littleton


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