When I was your age, there were these things called “beaches”
The ghostly white of bleached, dying coral is a common image associated with the damage that climate change brings to oceans. But now, another image to worry about is lifeless white sand landscapes, closed to tourists and beach-goers, struggling to support their dying marine ecosystem.
This is what’s already happening to beaches in Thailand and the Philippines. The GDPs of both countries heavily rely on revenue from tourism, but those countries have been forced to close more and more beaches due to warming oceans—which leads to coral bleaching, massive die-offs of foundational species such as phytoplankton, and the literal disintegration of the shells of sea snails and other organisms. Coupled with tourism-driven urban sprawl and pollution, the closures indicate an environmental disaster.
Just this week, Thailand announced that 11 of its 33 marine parks will close—including Maya Bay which was featured in the movie “The Beach”—for four months to a year. Last month, goverment officials reccomended that the entire island of Boracay in the Philippines be completely shut down for six month.
Obviously, the vulnerability of marine ecosystems due to climate change is troubling for anyone who loves going to the beach. It’s very possible that we should expect more beach closures like this to happen in the future. Early beach closures also threaten tens of thousands of jobs in developing economies, and climate change will continue to disproportionately affect the world’s most vulnerable.