The Deep South: A “Biodiversity Hot Spot”

Last month, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund declared the North American Coastal Plain (NACP) to be “the World’s 36th Biodiversity Hot Spot.” The region they are describing encompasses most of the Deep South, as well as the mostly coastal regions of the Upper South. To qualify as a CEPF “hot spot,” a region must have a significant number of endemic plant species, ones which are not found anywhere else in the world, and must have suffered at least 70% habitat loss. According to their research, that’s us.

The mid-February release is quite clear about their findings:

The human population is exploding across most of the NACP, which combined with rapid sea-level rise and loss of historic dispersal corridors, places biodiversity in this region at high risk. Conservation priorities for this newly recognized hotspots include reducing population growth and urban sprawl . . .

Put in simpler terms, in the Deep South and on the East Coast, we’ve taken these really beautiful places with exceptional biodiversity, and overpopulated them, then built a ton of condominium high-rises and strip malls on them to suit that overpopulation.

And it has gotten so much worse in recent years. My family vacationed at Panama City Beach, Florida every summer when I was growing up, and if I pass through there now, I don’t even recognize anything.

So what’s my point? I don’t know. Because I have serious doubts that the EPA-hating politicians in the Deep South will heed this warning. They need the tourist dollars and lodging taxes too badly for their already crippled budgets. I’d like to think that somebody down here could do something about this, but if not . . . I’d say: go visit some of the most beautiful beaches in the world while you still can. That, and I hope those resort-hotel owners have a back-up plan for when their lobbies, parking lots, and golf courses are below sea level.

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