by Alexis Baden-Mayer

Cancun’s unsustainable beaches won’t last as long as the mangrove forests that began being destroyed here when this little strip of paradise was first paved over 40 years ago. Last year, 80 million dollars worth of sand was dredged out from under octopuses to make up for losses caused by hurricanes that left waves lapping against hotel foundations. For the time being, this relatively small investment preserves billions in revenue from tourism, but, taking the long view, it’s difficult to justify the “beach rescues.” Already, 8 percent of the new sand has been swept away – even without any major storms. With the global climate crisis increasing the frequency and impact of extreme weather events, it is only a matter of time before artificial preservation of the beaches is no longer cost-effective. Inevitably, the sea levels will rise and turn Cancun into Atlantis.

But there is a world beyond Cancun and there are things we have yet to lose that are more precious than beachfront property. On the business-as-usual track we’re taking now, climate change threatens the very elements of life, soil and water. Our hope of conserving soil and water is linked to whether we can save what’s left of Cancun’s mangroves and coral reefs.

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