Nov. 30 marked the end of hurricane season, and Georgia’s coast again avoided a major disaster. But as we count our blessings, we cannot continue to ignore the facts.
Since 2005, the U.S. has experienced 14 of the costliest hurricanes in its history. Rising ocean temperatures are causing sea levels to rise, and increased ocean temperatures and sea levels have intensified the impacts of hurricanes and storm surges.
Most alarmingly, Georgia is one of only six coastal states without an official strategy for addressing sea level rise and coastal resilience.
Seventeen other coastal states have acknowledged the trends and implemented state-level strategies for improving infrastructure and public safety. These improvements remove people from harm’s way, reduce losses from flooding, and help communities access millions of dollars in new funding.
In Georgia, we haven’t even taken the first step to address the problem.
Most policymakers lack a solid understanding of the trends and impacts we’re experiencing on the coast. But without a basic understanding of the problem, we will never arrive at a solution. That’s why, during the 2020 General Assembly, One Hundred Miles is asking legislators to acknowledge that more information is needed and to establish a commission comprised of scientists, landowners, practitioners, and policymakers so that we may work collaboratively to learn about the trends’ effects and find solutions.
It is time for policymakers to hear from Georgians on the front lines of dealing with storm surge and flooding, and to protect the people and property of this state.