"Call it the Jimmy Buffett syndrome. Every week more than 3,300 new residents land in southern California, while another 4,800 hit Florida's shores. Every day 1,500 new homes rise along the U.S. coastline. More than half the nation's population now lives in coastal counties, which amount to only 17 percent of the land in the lower 48.
In 2003 coastal watersheds generated over six trillion dollars, more than half the national economy, making them among our most valuable assets. Yet two blue-ribbon bipartisan panelsâ€"the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, convened by the Pew Trusts and the U.S. Congress, respectivelyâ€"recently issued disturbing reports that found the coasts are being battered by an array of pollution and population pressures. Former Secretary of Energy Adm. James D. Watkinsâ€"not exactly a wild-eyed environmentalistâ€"chaired the U.S. commission and laid it out for Congress:
'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.' "
National Geographic Magazine offers profiles of four people who have an impact on the nation's coastlines. Those profiled include:
Thanks to Ashwani Vasishth