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

Bills would ease rules on sandbags, pumping sand from shoals; NC

The Senate and House are finalizing another set of enviromental regulations, including one that loosens rules on sandbag walls and another that would allow using sand from Diamond Shoals for beach nourishment without testing it first.

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Miami’s fight against rising seas

In the battle against rising seas, Florida – which has more to lose than almost anywhere else in the world – is becoming ground zero.

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Plan Streamlines Re-Nourishment Permitting; North Carolina

A program designed to cut more than three months from the review process for certain beach re-nourishment projects will soon be unveiled.

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New study links carbon pollution to extreme weather

Human activities are altering the jet stream, which leads to extreme weather patterns getting stuck in place.

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Plants have been helping to offset climate change, but now it’s up to us

Plants are currently removing more carbon dioxide from the air than they did 200 years ago, according to new work. This team’s findings affirm estimates used in models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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Thirsty mangroves cause unprecedented dieback; Australia’s northern coast

Scientists have discovered why, in early 2016, there was an unprecedented dieback of 7400 hectares of mangroves, which stretched for 1000 kilometres along the Gulf of Carpentaria – the plants died of thirst.

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Plastic No More, Also in Kenya

News, Pollution
Apr
5

Kenya has just joined the commitment of other 10 countries to address major plastic pollution by decreeing a ban on the use, manufacture and import of all plastic bags, to take effect in six months.

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Let’s end war with ocean, Op-Ed by Orrin H. Pilkey

The immediate future most certainly holds more miles of sandbags, resulting in more narrowed and ugly beaches.But this trend can be halted and reversed. Now is the time to make peace with the ocean.The time is now to stop sandbagging, both physically with no more shore-hardening structures, and politically with no more exceptions to the intent of the rules, no more undermining existing legislation, and a return to enforcement.

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Over 9 million metric tonnes of beach sand was illegally mined, Tamil Nadu

Despite a ban on mining of beach sand since 2013, illicit mining and transportation of beach sand continued on a massive scale. A court filing reports that in 2013, over 90 lakh tonnes (9 million metric tonnes) of beach sand had been mined from 2 districts located at the southernmost tip of peninsular India, in Tamil Nadu State.

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Recent / Inform

Kailua Beach sand project gets underway, triggers stream pollution fears

April 5th, 2017

Longtime residents believe that the water quality in Kailua bay has degraded.

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Ridding the oceans of plastics by turning the waste into valuable fuel

April 3rd, 2017

Billions of pounds of plastic waste are littering the world’s oceans. Now, an organic chemist and a sailboat captain report that they are developing a process to reuse certain plastics, transforming them from worthless trash into a valuable diesel fuel with a small mobile reactor that could operate on land or at sea.

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Line in the sand, Video

March 31st, 2017

The world is running low on sand. It’s a basic ingredient in construction – think skyscrapers, shopping malls, roads and windows – and cities are growing faster and bigger than at any time in history. Legal supply can’t keep up. So now organised criminals are hitting pay dirt, pillaging millions of tonnes of sand from the India’s beaches, riverbeds and hillsides.

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A swath of Miami Beach was washing away. The fix? Dump 285,000 tons of sand on it

March 30th, 2017

To widen a 3,000-foot stretch of Miami Beach’s shore that was washing away, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dumped 285,412 tons of sand on Mid-Beach, a $11.5 million project, funded with a combination of federal, state and county dollars.

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How and why China is building islands in the South China Sea

March 30th, 2017

China has been building manmade bases over some of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea since 2014, specifically targeting shallower areas, sandbanks, and reefs—islands, the shallower the better; a place that won’t sink under a load of concrete.

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Trump scraps Clean Power Plan: What that means for Earth

March 28th, 2017

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. The plan, which President Obama’s administration put into effect in 2015, was designed to cut power plant emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that is warming the planet. The Clean Power Plan requires that, by 2030, the power sector’s CO2 emissions be brought down to 32 percent below their 2005 levels.

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Deep in the Amazon, a Remarkable Beach Experience

March 28th, 2017

Even though it is far removed from the sea in a remote corner of the Amazon jungle, Alter do Chão must rank among the world’s most alluring white-sand beaches.

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Disappearing Beaches: Modeling Shoreline Change in Southern California

March 28th, 2017

Using a newly-developed computer model, scientists predict that with limited human intervention, 31 to 67 percent of Southern California beaches may become completely eroded (up to existing coastal infrastructure or sea-cliffs) by the year 2100 under scenarios of sea-level rise of one to two meters.

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Sand mining ban lifted on beach in Suriname, causing public backlash

March 27th, 2017

Of the Suriname coast, sand mining barges sighted at Braamspunt beach, came as a shock to the public and to local NGOs alike, as beach sand mining had been banned since December 2015.

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Corals Die as Global Warming Collides with Local Weather in the South China Sea

March 27th, 2017

In the South China Sea, a 2°C rise in the sea surface temperature in June 2015 was amplified to produce a 6°C rise on Dongsha Atoll, a shallow coral reef ecosystem, killing approximately 40 percent of the resident coral community according to a study published in Scientific Reports this week.

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