Watch 30,000 Tons of Cliff Collapse Onto a Beach in France

Things got a bit hairy last week for sunbathers on the northern coast of France.

Sal holds a Political Science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

For all the blame lobbed at humanity for scarring Mother Nature's good looks, it should be said that not all eco-degradation is caused by folks who take 45-minute showers before driving their SUVs to grocery stores in strip malls to stock up on farm-raised salmon and shrink-wrapped cases of bottled water.

Sometimes our planet breaks down all by her lonesome—she is, after all, 4.54 billion years old.

Take last week, for instance, when a giant chunk of the famed alabaster cliffs of Normandy, France, dramatically collapsed onto the beach below.

According to officials in the nearby town of Saint-Jouin-Burneval, which is about a two-hour drive east of D-Day's Omaha Beach, more than 30,000 tons of stone freed itself from the eons-old constraints of the mountainside.

Okay, a confession.

Remember like four sentences ago, when I told you that erosion is a natural occurrence, that man didn't have a hand in pulling the rug out from under those French cliffs?

Yup, I was probably wrong. Mea culpa.

As far back as 2009, French officials were worried that climate change could help dethrone it as the world's top tourist destination, citing an internal report that predicted a rise in sea levels could "exacerbate coastal erosion, which already affected one-fifth of France's tourist areas."

Now does this mean that climate change explicitly caused this particular landslide? No, and there's no way of knowing for sure, either. But did it play a part—did the climate-change enhanced storms that batter that cliff year in and year out weaken the integrity of the stone? You betcha.

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