As Georgia’s coast faces a daunting future, we must expand the capabilities of our political, policy, and regulatory bodies.
Consider three major challenges already underway:
- Sea-level rise, flooding and storm damage are getting worse. So far in the 21st century, the U.S. has suffered annual hurricane damage four times the yearly average in the last century. Georgia has incurred about $5 billion in storm-related expenses just over the past two years.
- Natural resources that support some 40,000 jobs on Georgia’s coast – at least $2 billion in business, about a fifth of the coastal economy – are at greater risk from activities such as fossil-fuel processing and obsolete policies governing forestry, energy, and agriculture.
- Global trade is both an opportunity and a threat. In attempting to capture foreign markets, Georgia’s natural resources are threatened by over-exploitation and collateral damage caused by negligent practices. A sustainable, accountable approach to Georgia’s trade and economic development is urgently needed.
Wisdom must be applied to presenting reliable information and expanding the vision of decision-makers to ensure that longer-term consequences of positions on these and other major issues are properly considered.
To successfully confront these profound problems and safeguard future generations, a comprehensive, fact-based action-strategy is essential. This strategy must be based on an objective state-sponsored study of Georgia’s coastal threats and opportunities in the 21st century – prepared with extensive public involvement.
We cannot afford suffering costly, self-inflicted harms brought by willful negligence.