If you want to adopt a lifestyle that will improve the
environment, maybe you should think about moving inland.
Americans love the coasts—East Coast, West Coast, Gulf Coast, and even
the so-called North Coast along the Great Lakes—but "America’s coastlines
are in danger of being loved to death" by the growing number of people who
flock to the shore, according to National Geographic magazine.
More than half of the U.S. population now lives in coastal
counties—even though coastal areas represent only 17 percent of the land
in the lower 48 states—and the numbers are still growing.
Photo courtesy of Gabriele
According to National Geographic,
another 1,500 new homes are erected along U.S. coastlines every day. Each
week, 3,300 new residents move to Southern California, and another 4,800
settle in Florida.
America’s coastlines offer more than great
ocean views. In 2003, U.S. coastal watersheds generated more than $6
trillion—over half the national economy—making America’s coastal areas
some of the nation’s most valuable economic assets.
picture is not all idyllic sunrises and sunsets, long walks along the
sand, or waves crashing on the beach. Two blue-ribbon panels—the Pew
Oceans Commission convened by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the U.S.
Commission on Ocean Policy convened by the U.S. Congress—issued separate,
independent reports detailing how America’s coastlines are being damaged
by pollution and excess population.
"Our failure to properly
manage the human activities that affect the nation's oceans, coasts, and
Great Lakes is compromising their ecological integrity . . . threatening
human health, and putting our future at risk," said Former Secretary of
Energy Adm. James D. Watkins, who chaired the U.S. Commission on Ocean
Policy, in his report to Congress.
Learn more about the impact
people are having on America’s coastal areas:
on the Edge – National Geographic
Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century – Final Report of the U.S.
Commission on Ocean Policy
Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change – Final Report of the
Pew Oceans Commission