Miles of South Carolina Coastline at Stake

Guest Blog | February 10, 2009 | Press Releases

February 10, 2009

Bob Wislinski- Media Contact: 803.318.6804
Kenya Bryant- Event Contact: 803.960.2382

Miles of South Carolina Coastline at Stake

Sea level rise threatening the lowcountry

Charleston, SC – Today a group of small business,clean energy, religious and environmental organizations launched theSave the Lowcountry Campaign to raise awareness about the impacts ofglobal warming and the effects sea level rise could have on SouthCarolina’s lowcountry.

“With 2,876 miles of coastal shoreline, South Carolina is particularlyvulnerable to sea level rise. Charleston and Myrtle Beach are alreadyfeeling the effects of sea level rise and that is only going to getworse with global warming,” said Kenya Bryant, Pew Environment GroupSouth Carolina representative. “If we don’t do something to stop globalwarming now, our beloved lowcountry could be gone forever.”

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), sea levels are predicted to rise between 0.6 and 24 inchesglobally within the next century. The Environmental Protection Agencyestimates that the sand replenishment that would be needed to protectSouth Carolina’s coastlines from a 20-inch sea level rise could costbetween $1.2 to $9.4 billion.

Tourism is South Carolina’s main industry and the lowcountry isa major part of the state’s tourism economy. Charleston County’stourism industry alone generates more than $1 billion each year andHorry County which includes Myrtle Beach accounts for 38 percent of thetourism revenue for the state. South Carolina’s coastal ecosystems alsoprovide valuable habitat for endangered and threatened species such asthe American alligator, brown pelican and loggerhead sea turtle. All ofthese areas are especially vulnerable to rising sea level.

“Tourism is the engine driving South Carolina’s economy but globalwarming could cause that engine to break down,” said Frank Knapp, Jr.of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. “People fromall over the world come to South Carolina for our beaches andlowcountry, but global warming is putting that at risk. The economicwell-being and the quality of life of all South Carolinians couldsuffer from the impacts of global warming.”

As part of an effort to highlight local and state impacts, thecoalition has unveiled an outdoor billboard campaign, with billboardsposted along I-26, I-526 and I-95 that read: “Lowcountry/Nocountry:Global Warming Means Rising Seas and Less South Carolina and a” The coalition will continue education andoutreach initiatives throughout the year.

“I was born and raised in South Carolina and I can’t imagine mystate without the Palmetto, Carolina football or the lowcountry,” saidSteve Moore, Director of Climate and Energy for the South CarolinaWildlife Federation. “We’re using this campaign to show that globalwarming will have very real consequences for our state and the world.”

Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) is a strong advocate forpolicies that will end our dependence on foreign oil, enhance ournational security, protect our environment and create new economies.The coalition aims to work with the Congressman and other members ofthe South Carolina delegation to take bold action to save thelowcountry by cutting global warming pollution 80 percent by 2050.

“South Carolina could be the center of the political debate on globalwarming,” said Toni Reale, of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Ourstate stands to suffer the real consequences of global warming andlosing our lowcountry is just one example. The longer we wait to act,the more costly dealing with global warming will be and the greaterrisk we will face of suffering irreversible damages.”

# # #