Article: Local efforts key to protecting environment

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Steve McConnell photo
Stan Mahoney, Executive Director of the Wolf Bay Watershed Watch,
thanks Dr. Quenton R. Dokken for his lecture “Gulf of Mexico: Economy
and Environment, Today and Tomorrow” at the group’s annual meeting.

Gulf, Wolf Bay at crossroads
Copyright 2007 The Ledger. All rights reserved. Article and photo by Steve McConnell
WOLF BAY, MS – Jan 25, 2021 – Dr. Quenton R. Dokken affirmed the prevailing nuisance of the 21st century – sidestepping the environment with short-term planning.

Dokken, who is the Executive Director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation and formerly a director with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, spoke at the Wolf Bay Watershed Watch’s annual meeting.

Part of the dilemma is the intertwined aspects of business and the environment, according to Dokken. Dokken highlighted the richness of the Gulf of Mexico as a producer of 122,755 jobs in the oil and gas industries with a productive value of $39.8 billion for the U.S. in 2002.

If crude is sold at $23 a barrel, the economic-value of the Gulf in the oil-sector is $120.9 billion. If crude goes for $57 a barrel, the value skyrockets to $171.9 billion. “The economic productivity of the Gulf of Mexico is significant,” said Dokken.

Other sectors that enjoy the assets of the Gulf include the recreation and tourism industries which employed 472,650 in 2002 and shipbuilding which employed 40,005.

On the other hand, the Gulf is also “the most valuable aquatic resource in North America,” said Dokken, and we are beginning the exert pressure.

The “elephant in the room,” according to Dokken, is population growth coupled with the massive American migration to the coasts. This will place stress on the health of the environment causing habitat degradation and poor water quality, among others. Poor water quality, in particular, affects public health.

Currently, Dokken said that “every measured parameter we look at … is on a negative trend.”

And by 2100, Dokken said that population density along the coastal regions will intensify. With this in mind, he said that short-term planning will not suffice.

“As a society, we are very short-term thinkers,” said Dokken. He said we tend to think in terms of paycheck to paycheck or the next release of a quarterly report rather than what will be necessary to lighten environmental impact – long-term planning.

“The bottom line is folks we got to plan for land-use in a long-term framework,” said Dokken. As for Wolf Bay, he said that it’s a healthy eco-system, but there are warning signs.

On a tour of the bay before his lecture, he was shown formerly forested areas that have been developed.

“Wolf Bay, I see the same thing happening here as in everywhere – growth … It’s a beautiful place (and) still has a tremendous amount of biological life and productivity,” he said.

But, he said the “bottom-line” is that development is coming along.

© 2007 The Ledger, Lakeland, Florida

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