This letter features reporting from "As World’s Deltas Sink, Rising Seas Are Far from Only Culprit" by Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar and "The Long, Slow Drowning of the New Jersey Shore" by Andrew Lewis, Pulitzer Center reporting projects

Dear Mrs. Coleman, 

My name is Charmi Prajapati and I’m a sophomore at the Morris County School of Technology. Different areas of land around the world are beginning to sink due not only to rising sea levels, but also human development. The Pulitzer article “As World’s Deltas Sink, Rising Seas Are Far from Only Culprit” by Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar explains the consequences of human interference and rising sea levels: “If you remove the natural barriers and flatten the land, of course the water will come further up,” says Tuhin Ghosh, director of the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. Urbanization and the development of infrastructure is disrupting the flow of sediment, leaving the coastlines defenseless against erosion and sea-level rise. In the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, “sediment load halved from 1960 to 2008” (Chandrashekhar). Sediment is the shore’s natural defense against rising sea levels and when that is stripped away, largely because of human interference, it leaves these coastal communities and the people inhabiting them without protection.

The issue of rising water levels isn’t just a phenomenon seen in India; it is a problem that is occurring nearly everywhere, even in New Jersey. The Jersey Shore, especially Atlantic City, is extremely vulnerable to a phenomenon known as “nuisance flooding,” which is the temporary flooding of low-lying areas during high tides. It may not seem like a significant threat, but the article “The Long, Slow Drowning of the New Jersey Shore” by Andrew Lewis states otherwise: “These events rarely show up in the news, but in their persistent submerging of lawns and roads for hours at a time, they represent the primary existential threat to the beating heart of the Jersey Shore.” Lewis also mentions “the sea level at the Jersey Shore has risen twice as fast as the global average, because the land here is also sinking.” Just like the sediment decline in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, nuisance flooding has the same effects on the shorelines of Jersey. 

Stopping this ever-growing problem requires an effective solution immediately, and the first step to finding a solution would be to bring awareness to the issue. This is a problem that many people are not aware of, which is an issue in and of itself. If people aren’t aware of the prevalence of this situation, how can the problem possibly be fixed? Recognizing the importance of nuisance flooding and bringing it to the attention of the public through the media would be the first big step. Straying away from building sea walls, dams, and other big structures in favor of more natural and environmentally friendly barriers would prove to be beneficial as well. Creating “living shorelines” and restoring natural environments such as coral reefs will help to protect against the water and lessen the blow of the waves. Planting mangroves and adding salt marshes would hold in sediment allowing the land to grow in elevation which would provide sufficient protection as well. There’s no need to continue resorting to harmful, artificial structures when there are numerous eco-friendly possibilities.

Our shores and beaches are worth protecting and fighting for. They have been an integral part of New Jersey for so long, but if we continue to push this issue to the side, these communities will be long gone. Ignorance doesn’t always equal bliss. 


 Charmi Prajapati

Charmi Prajapati is currently a sophomore at the Morris County School of Technology. She has a love for animals which she implements in the Animal Science academy at her school. Charmi is so thankful to have gotten this opportunity to voice her opinions about growing issues within her community. In her free time, she loves to dance, read, listen to music, and spend time with family and friends!

Read more winning entries from the 2022 Local Letters for Global Change contest!