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Brainiac

Euphemism: Beach nourishment

Excavator or digger moving beach sand after erosion by the tides on a tropical beach with calm ocean in Cairns, Queensland, Australia
ap images

beach nour·ish·ment (n.): The word “nourishment” brings to mind pizza, milk, protein bars, carrot juice, sushi, and everything else we eat and drink. But beaches need nourishment too — at least in the age of climate change, which is eroding beachfront on Cape Cod and around the world. The harvesting, hauling, and dumping of new sand on depleted beaches is given the name “beach nourishment,” a soft term for a controversial practice.

The depleting of beachfront is an issue for public and private beaches. But beach nourishment — also called “beach filling,” “beach renourishment,” and “sand replenishment” — isn’t beloved by all. Sand is harder to find than you’d think, and the transportation can wreak havoc on the ecosystems where the sand is mined, while causing even more erosion at the fill site.

In one sense, though, “nourishment” is an apt term: much like even a big meal won’t keep you full for more than several hours, beach nourishment isn’t going to stem the tide of accelerated erosion in the long run. Mother Nature is voracious.

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