Cape Lookout
Cape Lookout photo credit: National Park Service.

Every year, visitors flock to North Carolina’s national seashores. Some come to camp under the stars, others to admire lighthouses or catch a glimpse of the wild horses that roam there. But these shores are in danger.

If nothing is done to reduce global carbon pollution, sea levels at Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout could rise by about two-and-a-half feet by the end of the century. Long stretches of the seashore would be underwater.

That’s according to a report published by the National Park Service. Author Maria Caffrey of the University of Colorado says that in the worst-case scenario, protecting these coastal areas would require extreme measures, such as building huge sea walls.

But, she says, interventions like that are extremely expensive. And …

Caffrey: “One could argue that that would really take away from what makes these places so special.”

So she says, the best way to preserve this special place is to reduce carbon pollution.

Caffrey: “If we decide to change our actions today, sea levels are still going to rise, but they won’t rise to the extreme levels that are the highest on my report.”

And that difference will be critical to the future of North Carolina’s national seashore.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Bruce Lieberman

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...