Dr Charles N. Ehler
About 60% of the people in the world now live within 100
kilometres of a coastline. Within the next three decades,
75% of the population could reside in coastal areas. The population
of the world doubled between 1950 and 1985 and today it is
growing at a rate that adds a billion people every 11 years.
The next decade might represent the last chance to stabilise
human population at something less than double the current
world population of 5.7 billion by the middle of the next
century. The next doubling of the world's population will
be of far greater significance in terms of energy, resource
consumption and stress on the environment, especially the
coastal environment, than any previous doubling of world-wide
population. Today's vague concept of 'sustainability' will
take on very real proportions as we move into the next millennium.
The roughly five-fold increase in the number of human beings
over the past century and a half is the most dramatic terrestrial
event since the retreat of the ice-age glaciers thousands
of years ago. That explosion of human numbers has been combined
with an increase of about four-fold in consumption per person
and the adoption of a wide array of technologies that needlessly
damage environment. The result has been something like a twenty-fold
escalation since 1850 of the pressure humanity places on its
environment - an unprecedented assault on natural ecosystems.
Historically, when coastal populations were low, human impacts
on coastal areas were also low. Perhaps more importantly,
the impact of one person's activities had little effect upon
his neighbour. Unfortunately, today's reality is different.
Coastal populations have now reached the point where one kind
of coastal use conflicts with another, simply through lack
of space. All too often, one person's solution becomes another
The fingerprints of humanity are found everywhere in the
sea. Chemical contamination and litter can be observed from
the poles to the tropics and from beaches to abyssal depths.
However, conditions in the marine environment vary widely.
The open ocean is still relatively clean. In contrast, coastal
areas and enclosed seas such as the Black Sea are affected
by humans almost everywhere. Increasing human stresses on
coastal areas can be observed world-wide. If unchecked, this
trend will lead to further deterioration in the quality and
productivity of marine and coastal environments.
On a global basis, more than 80% of the pollution in the
sea comes from sources on the land. This situation is no different
in the Black Sea. Pollutant discharges from industry and sewage
treatment facilities, together with runoff from agriculture,
forestry, and urban areas within the coastal zone are major
sources of marine pollution. However, massive quantities of
pollution from sources far upstream are carried into the coastal
zone and then into the sea by major rivers. Almost two-thirds
of the nutrients flowing into the Black Sea comes from the
Danube River basin.
Experience throughout the world demonstrates that economic
development often does not show sufficient concern for maintaining
natural systems and environmental quality. This is due in
part to the view that economic development and environmental
quality are alternatives; deterioration of environmental quality
is viewed as a necessary cost of economic development. This
view is misleading.
For example, pollution of coastal waters can destroy commercial
or recreational fisheries and check economic development related
to both fisheries and coastal recreation and tourism. Water
pollution can affect human health with a resultant loss in
overall productive effort as well as direct welfare losses
to individuals through, for example, water pollution-related
Arabinda Basu explained what Hinduism has to say about
ecology and the environment. He argued that the part we play
in destroying or improving the environment depends on our
state of 'consciousness', which includes not only awareness,
but dynamic and creative energy as well. He pleads for a basic
change of consciousness so that we can review our concept
of good, our view of nature and our responsibility for the
environment around us. The time has come to cooperate with
nature so that she can give us as much as she can and man
in turn must not extort more than she can yield at any time.
Paraphrasing Sri Aurobindo, he concluded that 'one who loves
man but does not love Nature, does not love man either'.
Radu Mihnea described pollution problems and sources
in the Black Sea. He points out that land-based sources are
the most important, including pollution carried to the Black
Sea by major rivers, such as the Danube. While chemicals,
radionuclides and sewage represent serious problems in the
Black Sea, eutrophication (from the Greek, meaning 'well-nourished')
is by far the most damaging to the natural environment. Excess
nutrients from agricultural wastes, fertilisers and sewage
enter coastal waters and cause dense blooms of phytoplankton,
which in turn decrease water transparency and light penetration.
Without light the plants begin to die and decompose, consuming
oxygen in the process. Severely-reduced levels of oxygen in
the water column often leads to the death of marine organisms
with important economic consequences.
The two final presentations argued for improved coastal management
of coastal areas in the Black Sea. Using examples of conflicts
in the development of the Russian segment of the Black Sea
coast, Erdal Özhan emphasized the importance of
managing conflicts from a long-term perspective and the consideration
of the outcomes of today's decisions on future generations.
For example, Gelendzhik, once a prosperous tourist and wine
growing centre, faces a difficult future because of massive
harbour dredging and severe pollution from agricultural and
municipal wastes that have been directly discharged into the
Black Sea. Sylvie Goyet pointed out that integrated
coastal management, often understood as a government-led process,
can in fact be initiated and carried out by local communities.
She argued for increased participation in the coastal management
decisions by all stakeholders, especially for increased representation
of local inhabitants most affected by management decisions.
Without wide representation and effective participation, most
plans are, in the long run, never accepted or implemented.
The challenge is to balance short-term development needs
against the long-term sustainability of ecosystems, habitats
and resources so that the range of choice and opportunities
available to future generations is not diminished by the consequences
of development choices today. That challenge will not be met
until fundamental changes are made in human consciousness
The sacredness of all living organisms (Professor Arabinda Basu)
Pollution problems and sources in the Black Sea (Dr Radu Mihnea)
Coastal conflicts: the need for management (Professor Erdal Özhan)
Managing the coast: room for everyone (Ms Sylvie Goyet)