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
Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research.
All up and down the San Diego coast, sand, particularly in North County, has disappeared from the beaches. A radio interview of Gary Griggs, Director, Institute of Marine Sciences, UC Santa Cruz, on KPBS News.
A sixth sperm whale has died on a British beach, the latest of nearly 30 to have become stranded in shallow waters on the coastline of Europe’s North Sea over the past month.
Loss of ice in Antarctica caused by a warming ocean could raise global sea levels by three meters, research suggests.
Cashing in on scarcity and the high price of river sand in the open market, illegal sand-mining gangs have turned their attention to the coastal areas of Kozhikode – the second largest city and urban agglomeration in Kerala State – and supply salty sand to the construction industry.
The study is unique because it estimates the source levels of larger populations and more classes of ships than in previous studies. Overall, container ships exhibited the highest median source levels.
With the Olympic Games just months away, Rio de Janeiro has a problem with rubbish. Hundreds of tonnes of unprocessed waste flow into the Guanabara Bay every year. Previous promises from Rio officials to regenerate Rio’s waterways through investment in sanitation have not delivered results.
It is estimated that more than a billion people around the world make their living directly from wetlands. And yet some 64 per cent of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900; many of them converted for agricultural use or urban development. Approximately 40 per cent have been degraded in just over 40 years
South Carolina faces an historic opportunity this legislative session, with a vote on the floor likely in the coming weeks. The time could not come soon enough, as our coastal communities face record-breaking storm surges, sea level rise, and flooding events.