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Officials close beach after house collapses with unanticipated fallout: 'Dangerous debris may be present'

"Additional beach closures may be necessary as the debris spreads and cleanup efforts proceed."

"Additional beach closures may be necessary as the debris spreads and cleanup efforts proceed."

Photo Credit: iStock

Homes are washing out to sea along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A combination of beach erosion and rising sea levels puts homeowners and beachgoers at risk along the chain of barrier islands.

What's happening?

The North Carolina coastline is becoming more vulnerable to homes collapsing and being carried out into the Atlantic as sea levels rise. A NASA study says sea levels along the contiguous U.S. coastline could rise by nearly a foot in the next 25 years.

According to a Washington Post analysis, the sea level near Rodanthe, where another home was recently destroyed, has risen by nearly five inches since 2010. This has forced officials to occasionally close parts of the island because debris washing on shore poses a safety risk to homeowners and beachgoers.

"Dangerous debris may be present on the beach and in the water," according to Park Service spokesman Mike Barber in an article in the Post. "Additional beach closures may be necessary as the debris spreads and cleanup efforts proceed."

Why are collapsing homes along North Carolina's coast important?

Over a third of the U.S. population lives in a coastal area vulnerable to sea level rise. Higher ocean levels mean dangerous storm surges could move further inland and threaten more people with flooding. 

This is just one of several problems caused by rising sea levels. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also warns, "As sea levels rise, saltwater is also contaminating freshwater aquifers, many of which sustain municipal and agricultural water supplies and natural ecosystems."

Polluting gases from burning fossil fuels are trapping heat in our atmosphere, and that heat is melting ice. Scientists have warned that the largest ever recorded increase in carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's atmosphere occurred over the last year. NASA says Antarctica is melting at an average rate of about 150 billion tons of ice per year, and Greenland is losing about 270 billion tons per year, bringing sea levels higher. 

What's being done about the causes?

There are several efforts underway to take greenhouse gases out of the air. Scientists are using carbon removal to suck pollution out of our planet's atmosphere. 

A new technology backed by Bill Gates stores air pollution in a Lego-like brick. The developers say they are on track to bury 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide next year. 

A new type of concrete is also being developed that can capture carbon. The company behind this patented technology says its "concrete of the future" will also improve air quality.

There are even vending machines now in the process of being patented that could suck poisonous gases out of the air.

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