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 to Steal a River

To feed an enormous building boom, India’s relentless sand miners have devastated the waterways that make life there possible.

Comments Off on How to Steal a River

Study finds knowledge gaps on protecting cultural sites from climate change

Many cultural sites vulnerable to climate-related changes such as rising sea levels, coastal erosion and flooding from stronger storms, warn researchers.

Comments Off on Study finds knowledge gaps on protecting cultural sites from climate change

Sand Is in Such High Demand, People Are Stealing Tons of It

As strange as it may sound, sand is one of the world’s hottest commodities. The global construction boom has created an insatiable appetite for sand, the chief ingredient for making concrete. The problem is that sand isn’t as abundant as it used to be. And when high demand and high value meets scarcity, you open the doors to smuggling.

Comments Off on Sand Is in Such High Demand, People Are Stealing Tons of It

Red Sea Mangroves Fight Back in the Face of Global Decline

The Red Sea is one of the world’s saltiest and warmest seas. It is an extremely harsh environment surrounded by desert and subject to very high temperatures. However, there has been no decline in mangrove stands in the Red Sea, where the extreme conditions seem to mean that the mangroves of the Red Sea have been subjected to much lower levels of human activity than elsewhere.

Comments Off on Red Sea Mangroves Fight Back in the Face of Global Decline

U.S. EPA Reverses Obama-Era Request for Methane Emission Data from Oil and Gas Companies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it will no longer ask oil and gas well operators to submit information about their equipment or methane emissions. Methane is short-lived, but powerful greenhouse gas. Over the short term, it can trap heat at least 30 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide, and is thought to be responsible for about a quarter of modern global warming.

Comments Off on U.S. EPA Reverses Obama-Era Request for Methane Emission Data from Oil and Gas Companies

He who controls the sand: the mining ‘mafias’ killing each other to build cities

In Kenya, as in most of the developing world, cities are growing at a frenzied pace. Creating buildings to house all the people and the roads to knit them together requires prodigious quantities of sand. As the price of sand goes up, the ‘mafias’ get more involved.

Comments Off on He who controls the sand: the mining ‘mafias’ killing each other to build cities

Ignoring state threats, firm keeps sucking sand from Monterey Bay

The Lapis Sand Plant, in operation since 1906, is the nation’s last coastal sand mine. The California Coastal Commission has threatened to close the plant, but the company refuses to relinquish its claim to the uniquely coarse amber-colored Monterey sand, which it calls “Lapis Lustre.” But Cemex is the world’s second largest building materials company, and any attempt to kick it out is likely to immerse the state in years of expensive litigation.

Comments Off on Ignoring state threats, firm keeps sucking sand from Monterey Bay

Some Virginia barrier islands are shrinking by the day: “You can just feel it”

Dozen islands are shrinking in Virginia’s barrier chain, which stretches for about 75 miles along the Eastern Shore.

Comments Off on Some Virginia barrier islands are shrinking by the day: “You can just feel it”

Cost-effective solutions to sediment runoff and other land-based pollution affecting West Maui reefs

Land-based pollutants have been linked to the degradation of several Hawaiian reefs. Between 2000 and 2015, coral cover on West Maui’s northern reefs has dramatically declined from 30 percent to 10 percent.

Comments Off on Cost-effective solutions to sediment runoff and other land-based pollution affecting West Maui reefs

Recent / Inform

Miniature organisms in the sand play big role in our ocean

March 2nd, 2017

Small organisms called meiofauna that live in the sediment provide essential services to human life such as food production and nutrient cycling, a researcher explains in a new report.

Read More

In Honduras, Defending Nature Is a Deadly Business

February 28th, 2017

Berta Cáceres fought to protect native lands in Honduras, and paid for it with her life. She is one of hundreds of victims of a disturbing global trend, the killings of environmental activists who try to block development projects. Most believe it was that campaign, against the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque River, that provided the motive for her murder, one of a rash of recent killings of environmental and social activists.

Read More

Abandoned oil wellhead exposed after rains wash away sand at Summerlamd Beach; CA

February 28th, 2017

There are dozens of old wells at Summerland Beach which was once a bustling oil field, pumping out oil and gas from the Santa Barbara Channel. Wells were later abandoned, and leaks started springing up on the sand and in the water..

Read More

Sand mining: the global environmental crisis you’ve probably never heard of

February 27th, 2017

From Cambodia to California, industrial-scale sand mining is causing wildlife to die, local trade to wither and bridges to collapse. And booming urbanisation means the demand for this increasingly valuable resource is unlikely to let up.

Read More

“Rezoning” in Brazil Opens Endangered Atlantic Forest to Development

February 26th, 2017

The already-vanishing Mata Atlântica, or Atlantic Forest, of southeastern Brazil is being prepared for auction under the government’s Ecological-Economic Zoning program. Previously protected costal lands are opened up for the construction of homes and businesses. Section of Ubatuba that borders Paraty, Rio de Janeiro is predicted to see an increase in construction of up to 50 percent.

Read More

Surveillance system, special squads to stop beach mineral mining; India

February 26th, 2017

Deployment of sand mining surveillance system and patrol by special squads along coastal districts, especially those rich with major minerals, are some of the steps contemplated by Tamil Nadu government to prevent plunder of major minerals in the four southernmost coastal districts.

Read More

Caspian Sea: Largest Inland Body of Water

February 25th, 2017

The Caspian Sea is the Earth’s largest inland body of water. Despite its name, it can be called either a lake or a sea. The question of whether it is a lake or a sea has political and economic ramifications. If the Caspian Sea is a lake, then the United Nations and international law have no control over its waters. If it is a sea, international organizations can have input on its use.

Read More

From forest to beach, North Carolina

February 24th, 2017

The Outer Banks is moving. For at least 4,000 years it has been steadily creeping closer to the continental United States.

Read More

UN Declares War on Ocean Plastic

February 23rd, 2017

UN Environment launched today an unprecedented global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter: microplastics in cosmetics and the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic by the year 2022.

Read More

Only 14% of plastics are recycled – can tech innovation tackle the rest?

February 22nd, 2017

The world recycles just 14% of the plastic packaging it uses. Even worse: 8m tons of plastic, much of it packaging, ends up in the oceans each year. 30% (by weight) of the plastic packaging isn’t recycled because the material is contaminated or too small for easy collection, has very low economic value or contains multiple materials that cannot be easily separated.

Read More


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