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Humans Doing More Harm Than Good In Protecting Wetlands From Rising Water

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Rising oceans are a big threat to wetlands around the Chesapeake Bay, but scientists at the Smithsonian say wetlands can protect themselves — as long as humans stay out of the way.

A review paper from the Smithsonian concludes that rising waters simply aren't the biggest factor in wetland demise. Instead, it's human efforts to control those rising ocean waters that are more damaging to wetland survival, mostly in the form of hardened shoreline structures like dams and seawalls.

Review co-author Patrick Megonigal says hardened shorelines disrupt wetlands' amazing ability raise themselves by building up soil to outpace sea-level rise. Groundwater withdrawal and artificial drainage are also big factors, especially here in the Chesapeake region.

Megonigal says most scientists, engineers and city planners understand this.

"We're a long way from that trickling into the imagination of politicians, residents, people who have a big stake in the outcome of these kinds of decisions," he says.

Megonigal says the Chesapeake region has some of the strongest laws in the world protecting its wetlands, but also has some of highest relative sea-level rise on the planet, making this an issue that isn't likely to go away.

WAMU 88.5

Dick Van Dyke: "Keep Moving"

Dick Van Dyke has been charming audiences for generations. In a new memoir, the actor explains how he stays in touch with his inner child and why life gets better the longer you live it.


King Of Beers: SABMiller Agrees In Principle To Merger With Budweiser Brewer

If the deal is formally agreed upon, the company would own around 31 percent of beer sales around the world.

LIVE CHAT: Join NPR's Politics Team For The Democratic Debate

Join us over on Twitter during the debate by following and contributing to #nprdebate or @nprpolitics, or post your comments, questions and observations here.
WAMU 88.5

Global Security Threats Posed By The Increasingly Sophisticated Tools Of Cyberwarfare

The U.S., Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have emerged as major players in the new world of cyberwarfare. With a panel of experts, we discuss global security threats posed by increasingly sophisticated malware and the new digital arms race.

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