From windmills to dykes to canals, the Dutch know all about working with nature. The low-lying country has been periodically wracked with disastrous floods throughout their history; as early as the 12th Century local government agencies were formed to design regional flood protection measures, and by the 13th Century the Dutch were ingeniously using windmills to pump water out of below-sea-level areas.
Nature's modern-day threat to Holland comes from the ocean. The North Sea has been steadily chipping away at Holland's west coast, necessitating a sand replenishment operation that local authorities undertake every five years. The ocean washes the beach away, then the Dutch dredge sand back out of the ocean and dump it back onto the beach. It is a Sisyphean task.
Last year the Dutch aimed to break this cycle, or at least slow it down, using the "building with nature" philosophy. Rather than fighting the tide, they decided to do a massive amount of work up front, then let the tide do the heavy lifting for the next 20 years.
The resultant project is called the Sand Motor, and it involves creating a massive artificial peninsula whose placement allows the ocean to slowly redistribute the sand and rebuild the coastline. Have a look at the vid below. (And is it just me, or is this thing narrated by Ser Jorah Mormont of Game of Thrones, i.e. Sir Richard Carlisle of Downton Abbey?)(more...)