Attention is focused here on the effect of additional sources of uncertainty derived from climate change on the cost-benefit procedures applied by coastal planners to evaluate shoreline protection projects. The largest effect would be felt if planners were trying to achieve the first best economic optimum. Given the current view that the seas will rise by significantly less than one meter through the year 2100, present procedures should work reasonably well assuming (1) informed vigilance in monitoring the pace of future greenhouse induced sea level rise, (2) careful attention to the time required for market-based adaptation to minimize the economic cost of abandonment, and (3) firm support of the credibility of an announced policy to proceed with plans to retreat from the sea when warranted. Assumptions (1) and (2) might be satisfied in reality, even cursory review of existing policy makes it clear that meeting (3) is a "long shot" at the very best. In any case, planners should periodically revisit potential protection sites, especially in the wake of catastrophic events, to assess the impact of the most recent information on sea level rise trajectories, local development patterns, and protection costs on the decision calculus.
Climatic Change – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 15, 2004
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