Communities on both coastlines are struggling with promoting development in a sustainable way. Much has been written about green projects that provide sustainable economic growth while minimizing the impact on the coastal environment. Those who live by the coast recognize that the economic health of a region is dependent on a clean ecosystem. Many of these communities, including Cape Cod, are directly affected by a robust tourist industry. Consequently, growth policies must be aligned with environmental protection.
What are some compatible industries and businesses that reflect sustainable development policies? What underutilized resources exist that could be expanded in an environmentally safe manner? One highly efficient industry is aquaculture, particularly the growing of shellfish such as quahogs, clams, and oysters. High yields can be derived from some rather simple equipment. Even modern genetic engineering procedures can be instituted to help increase yields. Because so many natural stocks have been depleted or exist in polluted areas, aquaculture techniques allow for an increase in a vital food supply while creating economic opportunities in this region.
Another potential industry with positive environmental dividends is the production of clean energy. Wind, solar, and geothermal energy have enormous potential for improving the economy and the coastal environment. The negative impact of fossil fuels has been well documented. The Cape is a region rich in untapped renewable energy resources, particularly wind and solar. Skilled technicians are needed for this industry and it is definitely going to increase in the future.
Finally one area of potential growth is probably the most difficult challenge, but still improvements could be made. This is the area of alternative modes of transportation. The Cape is notorious for its traffic problems which seem to worsen each year. While some towns provide bus services, most people move around via the automobile. To be consistent with the sustainable growth ideal, a change in infrastructure is needed. Accompanying that will require an educational effort to convince people to leave the car at home and use alternative transportation. The most successful mass transit systems are safe, clean, reasonably priced, and efficient.
As long as the population continues to grow, and more people gravitate to the coastline, the pressures on these fragile resources will continue. It is essential that new economic models include provisions that protect the natural environment in an integrated and sustainable way.
Copyright Gil Newton 2009 Thanks to Chris Dumas for logo image.