The Coastal Zone: Past, Present and Future

CONCERNS ABOUT THE HEALTH of the environment have become firmly embedded in the public's list of vital issues confronting present and future generations. The emergence of environmental issues as a significant part of the societal agenda can be traced to the 1960s and 1970s, although threats to the world ecosystem were identified much earlier. In The Coastal Zone, John and Winona Vernberg, the preeminent scholars on the southeastern coastal environment, encourage the general public to gain a more in-depth understanding of environmental science, especially as it pertains to the future of our treasured coastal communities. Using case studies of the southeastern coast, the Vernbergs provide an overview of the ecological characteristics of the coastal zone and urge readers to become aware of environmental consequences resulting from human disturbances such as chemical and biological contamination and habitat alterations. With the rise of urbanization and an ever-increasing population, coastal communities are being subjected to intense multiple stresses resulting from conflicting demands for use of finite resources. In order to save these limited resources for the benefit of present and future generations, the Vernbergs argue that local citizens need to understand the interaction between ecological, economic, and social factors and become actively involved in determining effective resource management policies.