N.C. Coast Facing Challenges Of Growth, Rising Water Levels

North Carolina's coast isn't what it used to be. The sound of seagulls competes with the grind of construction. Property values are soaring.

The population is increasing and the water is rising about a tenth of an inch each year. Charles Peterson is a biologist with the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Sciences.

He says the water levels mean we've got to make some important decisions. For one, changing water levels mean more frequent and expensive beach nourishment projects. Restricting development is one possible aid to the problems, though it would not be popular. It also could affect the coast's economy, which is driven by tourism and construction.

Finding solutions is also clouded by debate within the scientific community as to how many of these and other issues linked to global warming are caused by humans and how many are simply natural occurrences.