Astro Surf

COASTAL erosion is one of the natural functions going on in the world of geology. Nature seems to be none the worse for it, but it bothers people. Beach types go bonkers over erosion even though it has been around longer than taxes.

It is an obvious act of discrimination against folks who live by the seaside. Thus far it has never occurred to people not to build houses too close to the water, even though the fact that tides and waves cannot be regulated was settled by King Canute back around AD 1020.

The latest coastal-consciousness item on the market is fake seaweed. This comprises strips of plastic grass, four feet wide, stuck in long rows off the coast and held in place by sandbags. Not a very remarkable idea, but when one thinks of the length of inhabited coastline it boggles the mind. So far, no one is absolutely sure whether the fake sea grass will build up the sand and prevent erosion.

Officials always approach something as absurdly expensive as this with an open mind. It is sure to mean money in the pockets of somebody, even though it comes out of the pocket of someone else. Presumably, plastics manufacturers, who gave us AstroTurf, would be in favor of it.

As always, in the normal course of politics, there is a diversity of opinion. Although some have a fair amount of confidence in how the seaweed barrier will affect the shoreline, no one is sure how it will affect the turtles.

Turtles, as a look at one plainly tells, are borderline cases to begin with. They are perhaps the one species less keen witted than seaside dwellers, and might not know the difference between real grass and plastic grass. At times of the year they can be as stubbornly beach-committed as their human counterparts. A frequent diet of plastic grass might eliminate the turtle population once and for all.

In some areas, turtles have been known to eat plastic already. Not grass. Presumably just plastic bananas, apples, and whatnot, used for decoration and finally cast into the sea.

The outcome seems inevitable. Once all this plastic grass is in place, weighted down with sandbags, there will be nothing to do but put in plastic turtles.

Either that, or quit building houses on the beach.

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