11/12/2013 10:25 am ET Updated Jul 28, 2014

Climate Change Could Cause Cancun's Demise

Sipping outsized cocktails and peering gingerly at the sparkling turquoise waters from behind sunglasses, the partiers sprawl on deckchairs, recovering from the night before.

Vendors walk barefoot through the sand, offering cut-price shawls, coral plucked from the seafloor, and rides on inflatable bananas towed by speedboats.

Just behind us is the wildly popular Coco Bongo nightclub, one of the highlights of Cancun’s central strip — and an iconic part of the multi-billion dollar investment that has made this the Caribbean’s most successful resort.

Off to the horizon stretches the legendary ribbon of fine, white sand without which there would be neither tourists nor the bars, restaurants, boutiques and discos that relieve them of their hard-earned cash.

Cancun’s perfect tropical beach is its principal selling point. Made from the remains of long-dead corals, it famously stays cool even on the most scorching days.

Yet the only reason the resort still has a beach is thanks to a $70 million project in 2010 to replenish it by dredging up more than 1 billion gallons of sand from the seabed.

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