Focus on coastline
Barbados stands to lose most of its existing coastline in the coming years due to rising sea levels and increased construction along the shoreline, says Dr Karl Watson.
Noting that the disappearance of some beaches was inevitable, the professor said waning shorelines were already obvious, especially on the South and West Coast.
“In about 35 years or so with pending sea-level rises, we are going to lose much of the existing coastline . . . there are many areas along the West Coast where beaches are disappearing.
“This is an ongoing process and will only speed up over time,” he said, noting that sea levels were quickly rising due to global warming.
“New beaches will form, of course, but that is going to happen as some existing buildings will be compromised. We see that already happening where people, in an effort to preserve their property, are putting down rocks . . . and sometimes well-meaning efforts like that can have disastrous consequences where erection of a barrier at Point A can cause increased erosion at Point B,” Watson explained.
The University of the West Indies historian was speaking to BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY after a robust panel discussion during the CGA’s annual International Sustainability Conference 2012 at Hilton Barbados last Friday.
Referring to the news that coastal properties had been demolished in Spain due to that country’s laws banning construction within 106 metres of the shoreline, Dr Watson said the Town and Country Planning Department may soon have to reconsider giving permission to build along the coast in Barbados.
“Here we have demolished the buffer zone and we build right up to almost a high level. So when the water rises, there is going to be a lot of flooding and invariably there will have to be a rethinking of where planning permission is given for structures to be built.
“It is a commonsense approach to a problem that has already started to manifest itself and will only get worse over time,” said Watson, agreeing that many of the island’s hotel properties would also be affected.
He added: “There doesn’t seem to be anything we can do at the present moment to reverse it.
“Some scientists believe that perhaps we can still mitigate [the pending impact] so that we don’t feel the worst-case scenario, and there are others who feel that the worst-case scenario is inevitable.” (MM)