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Wake-Up Call: Orrin Pilkey, author of Sea Level Rise

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Dr. Orrin H. Pilkey is a Professor Emeritus of Geology, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, and Founder and Director Emeritus of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines.

He received his Ph.D. degree in geology at Florida State University and has been a professor at Duke University since 1965. After his parents’ house in Waveland, Mississippi was destroyed by Hurricane Camille in 1969, he switched his research focus to the study of coasts, a field in which he is well known internationally. In 2012, Duke University honored Dr. Pilkey with the naming of a building at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC:  the Orrin Pilkey Marine Sciences and Conservation Genetics Center.

Dr. Pilkey has published more than 250 scientific papers and is the author or co-author of numerous books including The Rising Sea, published in 2009, which was his first book to focus on the global threat from sea level rise. In 2011, Dr. Pilkey and his son Keith Pilkey wrote Global Climate Change: A Primer and in 2014 he co-wrote The Last Beach, focusing on how the world’s beaches are threatened by sea level rise and the challenges we face in trying to save them. The 2016 volume, Retreat from the Rising Sea: Hard Decisions in an Age of Global Climate Change, co-authored with his daughter, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, and his son, Keith, focused on sea level rise and the need to retreat or move back off the shore.

Dr. Pilkey’s most recent book published this year, is Sea Level Rise: A Slow Tsunami on America’s Shores, which was again cowritten with his son Keith. In this latest publication, the Pilkey’s argue that “the only feasible response” to the “unstoppable, impending catastrophe” of global climate change is for people who live “along much of the US shoreline to begin an immediate and managed retreat.”

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