in1000 years a large part of Lebanon's coast will be under water

The future of Lebanon’s coastal cities and their flood mitigation and sea rise plans are affected by two main things:
1-  The constantly and drastically changing environment causing the rise in sea levels, increase in storms and their frequency, sinking landmasses and wild waves are all some results we are observing constantly among others.
2-  Planning disabilities that contain lack of funding, long  time periods plans with no direct encouraging results, unclear understanding of issues and results, lack of management and communication between diverse stakeholders…
None of us today can forget the images of Hurricane Katrina or the recent tsunamis. Our coastlines are much denser today and are growing so the scale of disaster we will face is drastic.  Yet avoiding such disasters even some of which will appear in as far as 1000 years may be managed in a positive manner starting today.  (previous blog entry maps 1000 years water rise effect on Beirut.

Current condition of sea level in relation to Lebanon
I will highlight several strategies to ‘overcome’ the reality of loosing  coastal communities that  are an intrinsic part of our histories, contribute to the  economy, and are home to millions of residents .  These strategies are long term plans and are sometimes used in fragments on some areas and are governed by funding and investors.  To avoid the coastal areas drowning these strategies nee to be used on all the coast.
The main three strategies presented are
1-      RESIGN: phased out abandonment of the coastal city area of Beirut
2-      OVERPOWER: land reclamation to build habitable dam types
3-      INTEGRATE: floating a city: new types of development

in1000 years a large part of Beirut's coast will be under water that is if we do not get a tsunami before

RESIGN: phased out abandonment
To abandon a location and avoid a catastrophic future is to avoid a large human toll. It will mainly require housing and infrastructure to move to safer ground. This abandonment can be a managed process that allows the coastal area of Beirut to slowly transform into a public green zone that may help the environment and lesser sea rise.   

relocating slowly + making this space a large forest may prevent floods and also create a threshold of public space

This is a long term sustainable plan that will allow new investments not to be lost and will decrease investment in flood defense. Abandoning and allowing the sea to flood areas is a strategy that exists but has never occurred in dense cities yet. Its disadvantages such as loosing communities, land, infrastructure…are obvious. YET relocating slowly and making this space a large forest may prevent floods and also create a threshold of public space that Beirut needs.

Overpower:  Land reclamation is an act of overpowering nature.   

When we talk about land reclamation several examples come to mind, Dubai and even Beirut’s waterfront. 


Land reclamation works in the opposite way as abandonment and consists of actually building another coastline.  By choosing this strategy, the existing built infrastructure of the city’s coastline is protected from floods and does not need to be relocated to higher ground or rebuilt after flooding. Flood defense is very expensive but is also a strategy that exists and has been used on different scales.
Considering how expensive such a strategy is for a city they can be designed in a way to make them economically or commercially viable spaces such as public tourist spaces. Such a strategy needs to exist on all the coastline and needs to be a minimum of 10 meters higher than the existing coastline.



“The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.” -Michel Foucault
 To integrate the coastal cities into the water has massive development potential to be gained both for water and the city.  Overpowering by building dams, even the livable ones suggested in strategy 2,  does among other disadvantages damage the coastal habitats. Integrating will allow sprawl into the water instead of what is left from the countryside.

If our grounds are no longer safe why don’t we build on the more dynamic surfaces that exist?

Floating cities docked in place can be a sustainable way to continue to enlarge and densify cities and may also become an new urban planning tool with a lot of potential. If our grounds are no longer safe why don’t we build on the more dynamic surfaces that exist?  This strategy will not prevent our coastal cities from drowning but will through long term management and planning policy relocate all that live in such spaces into new property.


  1. In my opinion, the best thing to do right now is: Nothing.

    I'm not saying that because I'm a climate change skeptic or because I don't believe in large collective projects, but because of other more practical reasons.

    We're talking about a very gradual process that takes a thousand years of water rising. Trying to counter that with one swift grand plan today sounds like something our descendants are bound to dismiss as a naive, ineffective and costly white Elephant.

    Who knows what kind of technology will be available to us in 100 years, 200 years, let alone 1000 years. Who knows what form of government, what kind of polity or what amount of economic prosperity Lebanon (if such thing existed) will have?

    What can cost us a significant chunk of GDP today can cost us much less in a few hundred years, and perhaps Lebanon would be much richer then. Why not spend that money on agriculture, health and education for this generation?

    Besides, why not let the process be organic? Why not allow for a sort of darwinian evolution that will suite each generation fine?

    This post sounds like a very interesting intellectual exercise.. But that's where, in my opinion, it should stop.

  2. Not to mention in 1000 years humans would have probably already undergone a new mutation(we're already due for one now) and will become very different from what they are now. That apart from genetic engineering and cybernetic enhancement that will accelerate human evolution this very century, maybe a few decades from now.

    So what's the point when it's in 1000 years? You'd be dead, your children dead, your children's children dead, most of the populations, nations, and civilizations you know now would have faded into oblivion(including the Lebanese), and people will not be the same.

    And the most important thing is that in exactly 1000 the Earth's magnetic field(the thing that makes compasses point north) will run out, making Earth defenseless against space radiation, which will destroy all forms of life on the planet. So a few feet of sea level rise will be the last thing on those people's minds. Imagine that, the fact that Humans will be extinct in 1000 years is hardly talked about (you don't even know it yourself) simply because 1000 years is so long away, yet here you're worried about where sea levels will get.

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  4. Why Care

    The effects of sea level rise on habitats are currently occurring and are expected to accelerate.Environmental managers need to plan for the future viability of low-lying lands, wetlands, beaches, and habitats.

    Given the range of possible sea level rise scenarios and their associated levels of plausibility and their time frame (which is accelerating)most coastal cities recommend that a rise of one meter be adopted as the amount of anticipated rise by 2100, for policy development and planning purposes.

    The Beirut waterfront has taken more. The following entries are designed to provoke longer term thinking across a wide audience: from architects to government, to policy-makers, to planners, engineers and the general public.
    The idea to leave making any decisions or not even being aware of such conditions for scientists, planners and citizens is a problematic stand.

    The entry proposes to see development on and into the sea as a possible advantage both for problems of flood mitigation (which do not have to do with ONLY sea level rise) and for problems of sprawl, transportation, public space....

    The potential for planners, developer and urban contexts are great and yet problematic within themselves. Yet the scenarios and levels need to be debated to develop others and to decide at a level of sea rise we are willing to face.

    YES 3000 is far away YET 2100 is not. Planners are aware the emergence plans make major compromises and that's why they plan. TO avoid such emergencies.

    Cities across the world such as London, New york, San Francisco, St-Petersburg, Rotterdam, Venice ... are already debating scenarios options and policies

    Although relative amounts of rise may seem very small, only a few millimeters per year, the cumulative effect of these small rises each year over a long period of time (100+ years) causes major problems. Accelerated rates of erosion are attributed to sea level rise and erosion causes large economic losses around the world each year due to the close proximity of buildings and critical infrastructure. This includes transportation systems, gas and oil lines as well as electricity lines and power plants.

    Will we ignore it? That is debatable

  5. The lone structure of a fourteenth-century church tower leaves a powerful image of civilization overcome by nature, though in this case, man has manipulated nature
    The reality of losing coastal communities that are an intrinsic part of our histories, contribute to the economy, and are home to millions of residents should awaken us. Moreover, this should encourage us to start thinking of the future of our cities . The following entries are designed to provoke longer term thinking across a wide audience: from architects to government, to policy-makers, to planners, engineers and the general public.

  6. Integrate:

    volunteers helped launch 187 “floating islands” in a demonstration project for coastal land loss in America