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Losing Ground

Atlantic Coast



"Losing Ground: Rethinking Land Loss in the Context of Managed Retreat" is a chapter in the edited book Global Views on Climate Relocation and Social Justice edited by Idowu Jola Ajibade and AR Siders. The chapter explores the physical and material effects of land movement, including barrier island migration and inland flooding, as a way to reframe the relationship between landscape, environmental histories, and managed retreat.

The common narrative around the climate crisis describes sea level rise, and other climate-induced emergencies, as a loss: loss of land, loss of livelihood, and loss of value. "Losing Ground" argues that land loss is not inherently negative, but rather a result of natural landscape forces and processes of urbanization. Through two case studies, one on Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and one located in Greater Miami-Dade County, this chapter examines the relationship between land loss and society’s perceptions of property rights, urban development and flood risk, as well as planning and policy solutions. Ultimately, these case studies show how distinguishing land loss as a process not inherently tied to economic value can lead to new ways of thinking about hazard mitigation, climate adaptation, and managed retreat.