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

Dead zone in Gulf of Mexico will take decades to recover from farm pollution

News, Pollution
Mar
26

The enormous “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will take decades to recover even if the flow of farming chemicals that is causing the damage is completely halted.

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Sand Mining in Uganda Poses a Serious Threat to the Environment

News, Sand Mining
Mar
25

Environmentalists in Uganda say an important wetland that runs along a highway linking the capital city of Kampala to the southwestern town of Masaka is being harmed by aggressive dredging to extract sand.

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Rescuers scramble to help beached whales after mass stranding in Australia

More than 140 short-finned pilot whales died after a mass stranding on a beach in Western Australia.

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FEMA is buying homes in this Alaskan town because of climate change

The village of Newtok, Alaska, is trying to escape catastrophic coastal erosion. Its residents have even been called America’s first climate refugees. But because traditional FEMA disaster funding doesn’t cover climate-related threats, they’ve struggled for years to find funding to relocate to a new location 9 miles away, called Mertarvik.

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“Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is growing rapidly, study reveals

News, Pollution
Mar
22

Researchers estimate that at least 79,000 tons of ocean plastic are floating in waters between California and Hawaii – and known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” an area spanning 1.6 million square kilometers, or about 618,000 square miles – “four to sixteen times higher than previously reported,” the study says.

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Is Desalination an Answer to the Water Crisis?

Inform
Mar
22

On World Water Day, March 22, universal access to clean water continues to be a privilege… Despite the fact that our oceans and seas make up more than 97% of the earth’s water resources and half the world’s population lives no further than 40 miles from the water, we’re experiencing one water crisis after another. Adding to that frustration is the fact that solutions exist today which could ameliorate our water issues.

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On the Louisiana Coast, A Native Community Sinks Slowly into the Sea

The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians of southern Louisiana have been called America’s first climate refugees. But two years after receiving federal funding to move to higher ground, the tribe is stuck in limbo, waiting for new homes as the water inches closer to their doors.

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Ibusuki Beach: Sand bathing in southern Japan

Inform
Mar
18

In Ibusuki, a beachside city on Kyushu Island in Japan’s subtropical south, it’s all about the sand. Not the dark color of the sandy granules or even the length or width of the beaches, but rather the intense infusion of minerals from volcanic hot springs along the coast.

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Easter Island is critically vulnerable to rising ocean levels

Nicholas Casey, a New York Times correspondent based in Colombia, and Josh Haner, a Times photographer, traveled 2,200 miles off the coast of Chile to see how the rising ocean is erasing the island’s monuments.

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Recent / Inform

Rescuers scramble to help beached whales after mass stranding in Australia

March 23rd, 2018

More than 140 short-finned pilot whales died after a mass stranding on a beach in Western Australia.

Read More

FEMA is buying homes in this Alaskan town because of climate change

March 22nd, 2018

The village of Newtok, Alaska, is trying to escape catastrophic coastal erosion. Its residents have even been called America’s first climate refugees. But because traditional FEMA disaster funding doesn’t cover climate-related threats, they’ve struggled for years to find funding to relocate to a new location 9 miles away, called Mertarvik.

Read More

“Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is growing rapidly, study reveals

March 22nd, 2018

Researchers estimate that at least 79,000 tons of ocean plastic are floating in waters between California and Hawaii – and known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” an area spanning 1.6 million square kilometers, or about 618,000 square miles – “four to sixteen times higher than previously reported,” the study says.

Read More

Is Desalination an Answer to the Water Crisis?

March 22nd, 2018

On World Water Day, March 22, universal access to clean water continues to be a privilege… Despite the fact that our oceans and seas make up more than 97% of the earth’s water resources and half the world’s population lives no further than 40 miles from the water, we’re experiencing one water crisis after another. Adding to that frustration is the fact that solutions exist today which could ameliorate our water issues.

Read More

On the Louisiana Coast, A Native Community Sinks Slowly into the Sea

March 20th, 2018

The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians of southern Louisiana have been called America’s first climate refugees. But two years after receiving federal funding to move to higher ground, the tribe is stuck in limbo, waiting for new homes as the water inches closer to their doors.

Read More

Ibusuki Beach: Sand bathing in southern Japan

March 18th, 2018

In Ibusuki, a beachside city on Kyushu Island in Japan’s subtropical south, it’s all about the sand. Not the dark color of the sandy granules or even the length or width of the beaches, but rather the intense infusion of minerals from volcanic hot springs along the coast.

Read More

Easter Island is critically vulnerable to rising ocean levels

March 18th, 2018

Nicholas Casey, a New York Times correspondent based in Colombia, and Josh Haner, a Times photographer, traveled 2,200 miles off the coast of Chile to see how the rising ocean is erasing the island’s monuments.

Read More

Isla Holbox, Mexico’s best barefoot beach

March 16th, 2018

Isla Holbox is a small, slender island just north of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a gorgeous destination, with clear green-blue waters in every direction, and aquatic-inspired art is everywhere.

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Ailsa Craig

March 16th, 2018

It has been a haven and sanctuary for pirates, smugglers, and religious dissenters. The Romans may have set up camp on this rock, and Catholic Spaniards and British and Scottish soldiers built a castle and other military garrisons on it. But these days, the tiny islet is known for two things: seabirds and curling stones.

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Half a degree more global warming could flood out 5 million more people

March 16th, 2018

A new study finds that by 2150, the seemingly small difference between a global temperature increase of 1.5 and 2.0 degrees Celsius would mean the permanent inundation of lands currently home to about 5 million people, including 60,000 who live on small island nations.

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