The health, beauty and ecosystem of our beaches is under threat
The driving cause for most of these problems is overdevelopment and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline, there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.
Coastal Care Introduction
“Beach sand: so common, so complex, so perfect for sandcastles; and now it is a precious and vanishing resource.”—Orrin H. Pilkey
Beaches are the most visited natural attraction on the planet. The coast attracts millions of vacationing people each year. People love the sand, the surf, the sea breeze, and the vacation ambiance so much that many come to the beach to stay. There is a magical feeling living near the ocean, but human migration towards the coast comes with a high environmental price tag.
A majority of the world’s population lives within 50 km of the coast and the projections are 75% by the year 2025. This strip of land represents only 3% of the total land mass of the planet. In this context, it is easier to understand the environmental impact. Over 70% of the earth is covered by water and with so many people living on the coast, we are polluting a major source of food, the oceans.
A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.
The loss of life and economic impacts of major storms – cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes – and tsunamis would be reduced drastically if beaches were not developed. Unfortunately, recent examples of the problem are numerous: 1999 Indian cyclone Orissa (over 10,000 dead and $5 billion in damage), 2004 Indian Ocean tsumani (over 250,000 dead), 2005 Hurricane Katrina (over 1,800 killed and $80 billion in damage), and 2008 Hurricane Ike (over 30 killed and $30 billion in damage).
Today, the health, beauty, and ecosystem function of the world’s beaches are under threat and the driving causes for most of these problems are over-development and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.
It is important to distinguish between erosion and erosion problems. Erosion refers to the landward retreat of the shoreline. Most of the world’s shorelines are eroding, a very few are building out (accreting). There is no erosion problem, however, until someone builds something next to a shoreline. All over the world in remote areas, shorelines are slowly retreating and no one cares. In a global sense, our continents are slowly shrinking, and in a very real sense, erosion problems are man made. On a high-rise, condo-lined shoreline like those in Spain and the Florida coast, erosion is a huge problem and will only worsen in the future as sea level rise accelerates. Sea level rise will accelerate erosion of the shoreline and have a dramatic impact on our infrastructures, our economies, and our way of life.
Sea level rise is one of the most important causes of global shoreline erosion. If the coastline is developed, shoreline armoring is often used in an effort to save the buildings from the eroding shoreline. Once this begins, the beaches will degrade and eventually be lost. In the long-term, however, these armoring efforts are in vain. The ocean will continue to rise as the rate of sea level rise is expected to increase as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continue to degrade. The situation is made worse now because beach houses and condominiums are being built closer to the ocean than they were 25 years ago. Many of us are familiar with images of large beach houses about to fall victim to the oceans simply from daily erosion accelerated by the ever rising sea.
The work of the Santa Aguila Foundation will emphasize the impacts of sand mining and shoreline armoring: the first because the effects of sand mining have been largely ignored on a global scale and the latter due to its overwhelming negative impacts on the world’s beaches.
Surfing in / Inform
Kayakers paddling around Three Anchor Bay, Cape Town, have been alarmed at the amount of pollution flowing out of three stormwater drains into the sea, and have taken samples to try to identify what it is.
Comments Off on Cape Town beach pollution fears; South Africa
Heal the Bay has upgraded its Beach Report Card website and app to include, for the first time, real-time pollution predictions in the surf zones at five Southern California beaches.
Comments Off on Want real-time beach pollution data? There’s an app for that
The vessel and project, named Swale, is a collaborative, floating food forest that’s dedicated to rethinking New Yorkers’ relationship with the environment and providing them with fresh, healthy food.
Comments Off on This Floating Food Barge Is Nourishing Communities For Free
The government seems to be flailing in its attempt to convince people that the beaches along Vietnam’s central coast are recovering from a devastating toxic chemical spill, that killed an estimated 115 tons of fish off the central coast.
Comments Off on Vietnamese beaches hit by worst toxic chemical spill have been deemed safe for swimming
The plan for Mumbai’s first artificial beach off Marine Drive faces a challenge due to huge shortage of sand.
Comments Off on Sand scarcity hits Mumbai’s first artificial beach project
Following the tsunami in 1933, coastal towns in Japan began to construct “tsunami seawalls” to protect lives and property from this repeated hazard. After the death and destruction of 2011, the effectiveness of tsunami seawalls has been called into question.
Comments Off on Seawalls, coastal forests show mixed effectiveness at reducing deaths and damage from tsunami
The fishing villages of Cinque Terre, Italy, now rely solely on tourism, but ironically, the only way to preserve them might be to cut the number of visitors by half.
Comments Off on Will Cinque Terre turn away tourists?
Lake Michigan water has risen and fallen, like a living, changing organism, but there is little doubt the combination of rising water and manmade structures has created a problem. Soon, there may be plans to stop the devastating effects of beach erosion, but getting to a consensus on what to do and who should pay for immediate and long-term solutions shifts like the sand beneath dozens of structures along the shoreline.
Comments Off on Officials, residents, researchers look for answers to beach erosion
A year after Sri Lanka launched a mangrove conservation plan, about half of its 37,000 hectares of mangrove forests are in a various stage of revival, officials say.
Comments Off on Sri Lankan mangroves respond to conservation plan