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America’s Endangered Coasts

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 Utz

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.

Yet, the 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:

Land on the Edge National Geographic
An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century – Final Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy
America's Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change – Final Report of the Pew Oceans Commission

Thursday July 12, 2007 | comments (2)

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