Beaches Are Going to be a Hot Political Topic

In the latest issue of the Washington Monthly, Theodoric Meyer has a book review of Orrin H. Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper’s The Last Beach. The news is pretty depressing:

Pilkey and Cooper’s predictions are grim: “We believe that the current outlook, biased toward protection of property, will inevitably lead to a worldwide loss of beaches lined with development.” Artificial stone steps descending into the water and strips of sand behind seawalls will become increasingly common along developed coastlines, they suggest. Increased pollution will likely mean rules against walking barefoot on some beaches, even if such rules seem unthinkable today.

A lot of the focus is on beach replenishment efforts, which the authors argue are ultimately destructive of beach systems. If you don’t already know how important this topic is going to be over the next few decades, I encourage you to watch the latest episode of HBO’s Vice.

You probably should learn as much as you can about rising sea levels and how we’re going to need to react from a public policy standpoint. This review is a great place to start.

The pollution issue is important, too. I don’t like thinking about beaches so toxic that we can’t walk on them.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at