Coastal Leaders Demand Federal Action on Climate Change
On February 27, the Surfrider Foundation and leaders of the coastal recreation and tourism industry will present congressional leaders and White House officials with a surfboard signed by thousands of businesses, elected officials and citizens demanding immediate federal action to address the climate change crisis. Attendees of all ages, representing coastal communities across the nation, will meet with more than 100 congressional offices to urge comprehensive climate change policies that protect the ocean and coastlines for the future.
“Our ocean and coasts are under siege due to climate change,” said Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. “Extreme weather events, sea level rise and ocean acidification are putting our coastlines at risk, impacting everything from beachgoing to ocean recreation. The climate crisis is also increasingly taking a devastating toll on coastal economies and local communities. That’s why we’re adamant that federal leaders take action now to protect the nation’s coasts for this and future generations.”
Clean water and healthy beaches are critical to the nation’s coastal economies, communities, and recreation industries. In fact, coastal recreation and tourism constitute about 2.4 million jobs and contribute more than $124 billion to the U.S. economy every year. Coastlines also play an essential role in protecting communities from extreme weather events and sea level rise resulting from climate change. In addition, natural marine and coastal environments are some of the most effective carbon sinks on the planet, pulling excess carbon out of the atmosphere.
However, the ocean and coasts are increasingly at risk. Warming water and melting glaciers are causing sea levels to rise at an accelerated rate, altering ocean circulation, starving the nation’s waterways of oxygen and changing the ocean’s chemistry. The ocean has already absorbed over 90% of the heat trapped in our atmosphere and nearly 30% of the excess carbon dioxide previously emitted. Scientists estimate that by 2050, 90% of coral reefs will die off from ocean warming and acidification due to climate change. Increased water temperatures are expected to produce more harmful algae blooms, resulting in closed beaches, killed wildlife, and severe illnesses to surfers and swimmers.
“Climate change represents perhaps the greatest single threat to the survival of our industry and a way of life enjoyed by millions of people,” said Sean Smith, executive director of the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA). “SIMA and the surf industry join the Surfrider Foundation in demanding that federal leaders take action on the climate crisis.”
The coastal recreation industry will demand federal action on several pieces of legislation to help communities prepare for climate change impacts through shoreline planning and coastal adaptation. They will also urge Congress to enact laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, end fossil fuel subsidies and promote renewable energy development. Specific legislation the group will focus on includes:
- The National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization and Reform Act (S. 2187) to discourage building in flood zones, ensure natural adaptation measures, and improve affordability.
- The Coastal Climate Preparedness Act of 2019 (H.R. 3541) to promote climate-resilient shorelines that protect coastal communities and ecosystems, and to establish a coastal climate change preparedness program.
- The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act (H.R. 3195, S. 1081) to protect coastal resources and help coastal communities prepare for climate change.
- The Clean Economy Act (H.R. 5221, S. 3269) to establish a national goal of having 100% renewable energy by 2050.
“As we’re seeing more extreme weather and climate change impacts around the world, it is imperative for our nation’s state and federal governments to proactively prepare and take action,” said Surfrider’s Coastal Preservation Manager, Stefanie Sekich-Quinn. “If national policies are not immediately put in place tocurb greenhouse gases and help communities adapt, we can expect to witness a drastic future for our communities, ocean and coasts.”
About the Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over one million supporters, activists and members, with more than 170 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs in the U.S., and more than 600 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at surfrider.org.