earth day message:

Earth Day over coastal Georgia is a composite image created by

On this Earth Day, it’s fitting for coastal Georgians to reconsider the importance of strong ties between our economy and environmental health. Too often, outmoded, poorly-informed viewpoints unfairly portray environmental quality as being contrary to jobs and a robust economy.

Yet, coastal Georgia’s economic vitality thrives on the protection of marshes, fisheries, and waterways. According to estimates of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, at least 40,000 jobs and $2 billion a year in commerce depends in one way or another on a healthy environment here in our region This includes business ventures involved in tourism, seafood processing, and outdoor recreation and all the local services upon which these activities depend.

Beyond these well-documented ties between coastal Georgia’s workforce and natural resources, we now face a new realm of growth potential – on a global scale, but with special relevance to our region’s future.

Here again, we must insist that conventional wisdom be set aside. I’m referring to the latest report from three giants of the business sector who urge stepping up the transition to a clean-energy economy – not only to improve environmental quality and provide investment opportunities, but also to drastically cut emission of greenhouse gases that are overheating global climate, raising sea-level, and jeopardizing vital marine food supplies.

In “From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean-Energy Economy” co-authors Michael Bloomberg, Hank Paulson, Jr., and Tom Steyer, make a compelling case for boosting conversion to pollution-free sources of energy.

To quote Hank Paulson, Jr. (former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury), contrary to often-heard assertions, “We can reduce climate risks with existing clean technologies. We don’t need an energy miracle.”

The report calls for boosting three basic economic initiatives – which are already underway – to successfully (and profitably) curtail threats of catastrophic climate change:

  1. Electrification of the economy, moving away from combustion-power and toward wider use of electric motors.
  2. De-carbonizing the power sources used to recharge electric-powered equipment and vehicles (i.e., shifting to solar and wind-powered electricity production), and
  3. Advancing energy efficiency.

Despite claims by defenders of the status-quo, these steps are technically feasible and well within the realm of near-term realization, according to the proponents of the recommended transition. The report clearly asserts that with the right policy decisions, businesses and investors will drive the needed changes – both in the U.S. and worldwide.

These business-savvy authors remind us that the same ingenuity that “put billions of transistors on a single silicon chip and a smartphone in every pocket can also bring clean, reliable, and affordable electricity to every American home” and business, while boosting energy efficiency and providing climate-friendly technological progress.

In calling for this shift in public policy, they recall the pivotal role played by the U.S. government in making past advancements – such as railways, rural electrification, and telecommunications.

Rather than continuing to use billions in tax-subsidies to support outmoded and polluting fossil fuels, they advocate reforming public policy to fast-track the three-part program being endorsed.

Timely action is needed to ensure both economic stability and effective safeguards against, flooding, drought, wildfires, and costly property damage brought by worsening climate change.

There’s no more fitting time for this call to action. Let’s revitalize the meaning of Earth Day by reaffirming that creating jobs need not jeopardize our environment, and well-balanced options must be supported by public policy.


Image: Earth Day over coastal Georgia is a composite image created by The base image, First Last Glimpse of Golden Isles Georgia, is  by BEV Norton (flickr/Creative Commons); the earth day graphic is was created by kotoffel and licensed at by using contribtution from generous readers and writers like you.
David Kyler

David Kyler

David Kyler is the co-director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, a non-profit membership organization he co-founded in 1997. The Center works to protect, preserve, and sustain the vital natural, cultural, and economic resources of coastal Georgia.

One of David’s deepest convictions, and a founding principle of the Center, is that environmental research, scientific information, and public involvement are urgently needed to improve decisions affecting the sustainability of natural systems. Accordingly, the Center’s slogan is “Advocating responsible decisions to sustain coastal Georgia’s environment and quality of life.”

To pursue the Center’s mission, Kyler gives priority to raising public awareness about issues affecting coastal Georgia at all levels – from local to state and national, to global. He frequently publishes letters and opinion columns in Georgia newspapers, often commenting on controversial issues that require improving the analysis and coordination of both economic and environmental considerations.

In the past three years alone, on behalf of the Center David has published close to one-hundred commentaries on a range of issues, including offshore drilling, protecting Cumberland Island National Seashore, risks of contamination by coal ash and other toxic materials, coastal development controls, and conflicts between environmental protection and economic development practices.

In the past decade, under Kyler’s influence, the Center has been one of the few Georgia non-profit organizations persistently voicing alarm about the global climate crisis and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In 2018 and 2019 the Center hosted several public forums on climate issues in the Savannah area and collaborated with the Climate Reality Project in organizing a rally in Savannah, scheduled to be coordinated with the international Climate Strike.

Through his work with the Center, David is helping to redefine economic self-interest by incorporating the principles of sustainability in public policies governing both economic development and environmental protection. He is convinced that systemic analysis and life-cycle assessment, including thorough evaluation of economic and societal externalities, are essential to responsible environmental stewardship.

He holds degrees from Lehigh University (BS, Industrial Engineering) and Southern Illinois University (MS, Design Science), and has completed advanced studies in Resource Management and Policy at the State University of New York at Syracuse. Mr. Kyler has worked in environmental policy analysis, regional planning, and public-interest advocacy for over 40 years. He’s been a resident of Saint Simons Island since 1977 and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.