Why We Should Be Scared for Our Coastlines, in 55 Acronyms

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VBZD? "Vector-borne and zoonotic disease." SLCS? "Sea level change scenarios." CSO? "Combined sewer overflow."

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A woman looks at a roller coaster sitting in the ocean after the boardwalk it was built upon collapsed during Hurricane Sandy, in Seaside Heights, New Jersey November 28, 2012. (Reuters)

This week, a group of 78 representatives from American government agencies, universities, non-governmental organizations, and the insurance industry published a report on the threat climate change poses to U.S. coastlines. The document -- formal title: "Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities: A Technical Input to the National Climate Assessment" -- clocks in at nearly 200 pages, and functions as a lengthy addendum to the U.S. Global Change Research Program's National Climate Assessment.

The report's findings are unsurprising: Our coastlines are particularly vulnerable to climate change's impacts -- a fact that we have had proven to us anecdotally so many sad times in the recent past. Still, though, the document is worth reading -- or, perhaps, skimming -- in its entirety.

If you don't have time to read a 200-page report, you can also get a pretty good sense of the nation's climate-to-coastline situation by skimming the report in another way: by looking at the list of acronym decodings that the report helpfully provides for its readers. There are 55 of those acronyms in all, and they are illuminating and terrifying in equal measure. SLCS? That means "sea level change scenarios." HABs? "Harmful algae blooms." VBZD? "Vector-borne and zoonotic disease." CSO? "Combined sewer overflow."  

Yes. And the list goes on -- helpfully, horrifically -- abbreviation after abbreviation.

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But maybe the scariest one of all? BMP: "Best management practices."

Here's the full report:

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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