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David Miller

Indian River HS, 9th grade

Environmental Injustice to Coastal Delaware

Environmental injustice to me is punishment for something you did not do, which is the case for southern Delaware. In the past twenty years oceans around the world have risen three inches. Although this may not seem like a lot, the water is projected to rise by much more than three inches in the next twenty years. The rising waters pose a threat to communities in southern Delaware, a threat they do not deserve. 

In Bethany Beach, Delaware there are only nine-hundred ninety-seven year-round residents according to the US census in 2021. The population of Bethany Beach is tiny compared to big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Beijing, and Dubai, and puts out a small fraction of their carbon emissions. More carbon in the atmosphere causes heat to become trapped near the Earth’s surface, warming it. The earth’s warming has contributed to the melting of polar ice caps which have increased the world’s oceans, threatening communities like Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Fenwick Island, and Dewey Beach. All of these coastal communities are barely above sea level. The lack of high land proves treacherous during hurricanes, Nor’easters, and even heavy rainstorms when much of the land floods. Evidence of this can be found on the bayside of Dewey or Pennsylvania Avenue in Bethany Beach after a storm, as both areas are prone to flooding. 

The lucrative tourism industry is also affected by sea level rise. The billion-dollar industry would only exist with our beaches. But these breaches shrink every year, despite efforts to replenish the beaches. Even after the multi-million dollar replenishment project last summer the beaches still shrunk because of storms. The beaches are packed in the summer with vacationers. If the beaches continue to shrink then fewer people will come to coastal Delaware. With fewer visitors, there will be less money in the area, causing people to lose their jobs and move away.

The youth of Delaware must make a stand for their future. If we do not fight back then the only home that we have ever had will be destroyed for our generation and generations in the future. The issue must be made aware to everyone; from locals to vacationers, to politicians, and people nationwide. New laws must be put in place to protect our homes. The residents of coastal Delaware need support from the rest of the state and the rest of the country to fight back against sea level rise.  

The issue is real. The State of Delaware is in trouble if nothing is done to stop the rise of the waters. According to the NOAA model for Lewes, Delaware; the ocean will rise between two and seven feet by 2100. If nothing is done, then the increase in water would leave many homes and communities destroyed, punished forever for someone else’s crime.

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