Vultures roam the sand in the Brazilian resort town of Atafona among the ruins of the last houses destroyed by the sea, whose relentless rise has turned the local coast into an apocalyptic landscape.
The Atlantic Ocean moves an average of six meters (almost 20 feet) a year in this small town north of Rio de Janeiro, which has long been prone to extreme erosion, which is now exacerbated by climate change.
The sea has already flooded more than 500 homes, turning the once idyllic coastline into an underwater cemetery of ruined structures.
One of the next to lose his home will be Joao Waked Peishota.
Walking through the constipation of what was once his neighbors househe looks at what’s left: a fragment of a blue-painted room littered with shabby magazines, a bicycle, and other remnants of life.
“When will we have to leave? It is unknown, ”he said.
“In 15 days the sea has advanced by three or four meters. Our wall can only last next week.”
Waked Peishot’s grandfather built the house as a holiday home, a beach holiday with large rooms and a garden.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Waked Peishota and his family moved full-time.
But now it seems inevitable that the house will be swallowed up by the sea.
“I will be ashamed to lose this house because it has so many memories of my whole family,” he said.
Atafona, a city of about 6,000 people, has long suffered from severe erosion. It is part of four percent of coastlines around the world that lose five meters or more each year.
The problem is getting worse global warmingwhich raises sea levels and makes currents and conditions more extreme, says geologist Eduardo Bulhos of Fluminense Federal University.
But Atafon has had a “chronic problem” for decades, he says.
The Paraiba do Sul River, whose mouth is in Atafon, has shrunk due to mining, agriculture and other activities that drain it upstream.
“Over the last 40 years, this has drastically reduced the volume of the river, which means it transports less sand to Atafon,” Bulhos says.
With less sand, urban beaches have ceased to recover naturally, giving way to the sea.
Construction on the coast has only exacerbated the problem by getting rid of sand dunes and vegetation, natural protection of beaches.
The result was catastrophic for the tourism and fisheries industry.
“Big boats can no longer cross the river delta … and with them the money is gone,” said Elialda Bastos Meireles, head of the local fishermen’s community of about 600 people.
“The river is dead.”
Local authorities have studied several plans to stop erosion, including the construction of dams to reduce the force of ocean waves and the removal of sand from delta of the river to the beach.
Bulhoes, a geologist, proposed the latter, which is modeled on similar initiatives in the Netherlands, Spain and the United States.
But so far the projects exist only on paper.
County Deputy Environment Minister Alex Ramos told AFP that no one has come up with a final solution yet, and that any plan must first get the approval of environmental regulators.
Meanwhile, the county has launched a welfare program that pays 1,200 reais ($ 230) a month to more than 40 families who have lost their homes to erosion.
But critics accuse local authorities of lacking political will.
“We continue to hear promises,” said Veronica Vieira, head of the SOS Atafona district association.
“But this city has been abandoned. It’s an apocalypse. It makes you want to cry.”
© 2022 AFP
Citation: The Disappearing Resort City of Brazil (2022, February 14), obtained February 14, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-brazil-resort-town-sea.html
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