willful negligence

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.

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Image: Hurricane Fran approaching the southeast US coastline in 1996 created by the NOAA / National Climatic Data Center (public domain via Wikipedia.org).
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.