Friday, July 10, 2009

Threat to Maine's beaches

Maine Public Broadcasting Network: A mixture of economists, ecologists, geologists and conservationists all hit the beach today - literally. They gathered at Southern Maine Community College's Willard Beach campus for a day-long conference to assess the economic impact of Maine's beaches, and the threat posed by climate change and rising sea levels.

Maine has about 3,500 miles of coastline, but only one percent of it can be described as beach. But Maine's beaches do more than their fair share economically, bringing about $500 million into the state each year and supporting over 8,000 jobs. "We don't really have very accurate numbers, but we know that, for example, the employment levels in southern Maine coastal communities are 1/3 to 1/2 higher in the summer and we're looking at $200, $300 million dollars in retail sales additional during to those months so it's quite significant," says Charles Colgan of the Muskie School of Public Policy.

…Charles Colgan: "Clearly the problem of climate change is going to be that over time storms and bad weather are going to become more frequent. As we've seen just this last June we had some very bad storms in the Gulf of Maine area which did a lot of damage down in Massachusetts. So the risks are going up each for damage to the coast and to these beaches and the economy that depends on them.

…TP: "You mentioned insurance. Presumably it's getting harder and harder if you have beachfront property to insure it."

CC: "Not in Maine yet, but it is in certain parts of the country. It's almost impossible to get it in Florida, for example, and so that's going to be the leading indicator of where the economic problems of living at risk along the beach are going to be is in insurance rates. It hasn't really hit Maine yet in a big way, but over time it will."…

View from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, in Acadia National Park (Mount Desert Island), Maine. Shot by AudeVivere, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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