SC - Climate change, coastlands and the most vulnerable who live there

A rising tide might lift all boats, but not everyone fares the same with rising seas.

A rising tide might lift all boats, but not everyone fares the same with rising seas.

Monica Barra has documented that fact extensively in her studies of coastal land loss among communities of color in the bayous of Louisiana. With a focus on the ways that residents, scientific knowledge and the coastal landscape intersect, the assistant professor of race and environment is bringing a similar research perspective to the South Carolina coastline.

“Sea level rise and the shifting of the coastline are impacting different groups of people in different ways,” says Barra, who holds a joint appointment in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment and anthropology.

“So many of the policies in place to confront climate change are oriented to homeowners of a certain economic status, and the question of who is most resilient hinges on that.”

Barra is using a National Center for Atmospheric Research Innovator’s Fellowship and a National Academies Gulf Research Program Early Career Grant to further her research with assistance from Teresa Norman, a master’s student in the university’s MEERM program (Master’s in Earth and Environmental Resource Management). The research will ultimately inform Barra’s second book about the intersection of climate change policy making and coastal land ownership.

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