Inform

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.

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

How the U.S. betrayed the Marshall Islands, kindling the next nuclear disaster

In the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet — or 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools — of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris. Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program.

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Venice is sinking and this time it may go under

From its founding in the Early Middle Ages, Venice has had a fraught relationship with the sea, protected from the mainland by the waters of the lagoon, yet always threatened by changing environmental conditions. Venetians have always recognized that human choices would shape their relationship with the natural world.

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He’s doing the ‘dirty work’ to keep plastic out of the ocean

Inform, Pollution
Nov
14

Afroz Shah, a lawyer in Mumbai, hasn’t had a weekend off in four years. But he hasn’t spent this time writing briefs or preparing for court. His mission? Saving the world’s oceans from plastic pollution.

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Worst floods for 50 years bring Venice to ‘its knees’

The worst flooding to hit Venice in more than 50 years has brought the historic city to its knees. Local authorities in the Italian lagoon city called for a state of emergency to be imposed.

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Newly identified fish nurseries are choked with plastic

News, Pollution
Nov
13

A new study reveals that it’s not just adult sea animals that are getting a gullet full of plastic. Larval fish are inundated with plastic fragments in their nursery habitats and they’re eating those pieces along with their natural food sources

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Red tide is back off the coast of Florida.

The toxic algae has returned to the waters off southwest Florida and has begun to slowly creep up the state’s Gulf coast over the past month.

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Oil spill threatens vast areas of mangroves and coral reefs in Brazil

News, Pollution
Nov
11

Hundreds of kilometres of mangroves and coral reefs, as well as humpback whale breeding grounds, are under threat from an oil spill that has polluted more than 2,400km of Brazil’s north-eastern coast in the last two months.

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Microplastics “washing right out into the ocean,” marine biologists say

Inform, Pollution
Nov
11

Signs of climate change are everywhere, but sometimes those signs are very hard to see. Tiny, nearly invisible pieces of plastic called microplastics are making their way through our ecosystem. The results could be devastating.

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Needles and other medical supplies just washed up on a California beach

News, Pollution
Nov
11

Sections of Venice Beach in Los Angeles were blocked off Sunday after authorities discovered needles and other medical supplies had washed up on shore.

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Recent / Inform

How the U.S. betrayed the Marshall Islands, kindling the next nuclear disaster

November 16th, 2019

In the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet — or 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools — of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris. Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program.

Read More

Venice is sinking and this time it may go under

November 15th, 2019

From its founding in the Early Middle Ages, Venice has had a fraught relationship with the sea, protected from the mainland by the waters of the lagoon, yet always threatened by changing environmental conditions. Venetians have always recognized that human choices would shape their relationship with the natural world.

Read More

He’s doing the ‘dirty work’ to keep plastic out of the ocean

November 14th, 2019

Afroz Shah, a lawyer in Mumbai, hasn’t had a weekend off in four years. But he hasn’t spent this time writing briefs or preparing for court. His mission? Saving the world’s oceans from plastic pollution.

Read More

Worst floods for 50 years bring Venice to ‘its knees’

November 13th, 2019

The worst flooding to hit Venice in more than 50 years has brought the historic city to its knees. Local authorities in the Italian lagoon city called for a state of emergency to be imposed.

Read More

Newly identified fish nurseries are choked with plastic

November 13th, 2019

A new study reveals that it’s not just adult sea animals that are getting a gullet full of plastic. Larval fish are inundated with plastic fragments in their nursery habitats and they’re eating those pieces along with their natural food sources

Read More

Red tide is back off the coast of Florida.

November 12th, 2019

The toxic algae has returned to the waters off southwest Florida and has begun to slowly creep up the state’s Gulf coast over the past month.

Read More

Oil spill threatens vast areas of mangroves and coral reefs in Brazil

November 11th, 2019

Hundreds of kilometres of mangroves and coral reefs, as well as humpback whale breeding grounds, are under threat from an oil spill that has polluted more than 2,400km of Brazil’s north-eastern coast in the last two months.

Read More

Microplastics “washing right out into the ocean,” marine biologists say

November 11th, 2019

Signs of climate change are everywhere, but sometimes those signs are very hard to see. Tiny, nearly invisible pieces of plastic called microplastics are making their way through our ecosystem. The results could be devastating.

Read More

Needles and other medical supplies just washed up on a California beach

November 11th, 2019

Sections of Venice Beach in Los Angeles were blocked off Sunday after authorities discovered needles and other medical supplies had washed up on shore.

Read More

The Ocean cleanups latest invention collects 110,000 pounds of trash from rivers each day

November 10th, 2019

Dubbed the Interceptor, this boat is designed to collect plastic trash as it floats down rivers and into the sea. The vessel is the latest project from The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch nonprofit organization helmed by eco-engineering Boyan Slat.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
One Percent