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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

A tempestuous isle of 1,000 shipwrecks

Celebrate, Inform
May
26

Between 500 and 1,000 shipwrecks were recorded around Quebec’s isolated Magdalen Islands – and the descendants of the resilient survivors live to tell their stories.

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The world is running out of sand

It’s one of our most widely used natural resources, but it’s scarcer than you think…

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How rising seas and coastal storms drowned the U.S. flood insurance program

Sea level rise and more severe storms are overwhelming U.S. coastal communities, causing billions of dollars in damage and essentially bankrupting the federal flood insurance program. Yet rebuilding continues, despite warnings that far more properties will soon be underwater.

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Australia: Erosion rate rise along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road prompts effort to bolster beach sand dunes

More than 16,000 cubic metres of sand is being moved along beaches at Apollo Bay to protect the Great Ocean Road from coastal erosion.

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Unique Sandbar Coastal Ecosystem in Cuba Calls for Climate Solutions

Just 13 wooden houses with lightweight roofs shield the few families that still live on one of the six coastal sandbars exclusive to Baracoa, a mountainous coastal municipality with striking nature reserves. These long and narrow sandbars between the river mouths and the sea have a name from the language of the Araucan people, the native people who once populated Cuba.

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Toxic timebomb: why we must fight back against the world’s plague of plastic

Inform, Pollution
May
21

We must reduce our dependence on plastics, especially single-use items, and seek out alternative materials…

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Spain leads the world for quality beaches

News, Pollution
May
20

Spain safely holds onto its title as the country with the most blue-flag beaches in the world.

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Dubai set to build $1.7b man-made islands Marsa Al Arab by 2020

dubai-artificial-islands1
News, Sand Mining
May
18

Dubai is growing again, and again it’s building into the sea.

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Navy investigating disks of compressed trash littering Outer Banks beaches

News, Pollution
May
17

The disks are consistent with those made on ships to compress plastic waste for easy storage, said Ted Brown, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command. Ships are not supposed to dump plastic into the ocean.

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Recent / Inform

How rising seas and coastal storms drowned the U.S. flood insurance program

May 23rd, 2017

Sea level rise and more severe storms are overwhelming U.S. coastal communities, causing billions of dollars in damage and essentially bankrupting the federal flood insurance program. Yet rebuilding continues, despite warnings that far more properties will soon be underwater.

Read More

Australia: Erosion rate rise along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road prompts effort to bolster beach sand dunes

May 23rd, 2017

More than 16,000 cubic metres of sand is being moved along beaches at Apollo Bay to protect the Great Ocean Road from coastal erosion.

Read More

Unique Sandbar Coastal Ecosystem in Cuba Calls for Climate Solutions

May 21st, 2017

Just 13 wooden houses with lightweight roofs shield the few families that still live on one of the six coastal sandbars exclusive to Baracoa, a mountainous coastal municipality with striking nature reserves. These long and narrow sandbars between the river mouths and the sea have a name from the language of the Araucan people, the native people who once populated Cuba.

Read More

Toxic timebomb: why we must fight back against the world’s plague of plastic

May 21st, 2017

We must reduce our dependence on plastics, especially single-use items, and seek out alternative materials…

Read More

Spain leads the world for quality beaches

May 20th, 2017

Spain safely holds onto its title as the country with the most blue-flag beaches in the world.

Read More

Dubai set to build $1.7b man-made islands Marsa Al Arab by 2020

dubai-artificial-islands1

May 18th, 2017

Dubai is growing again, and again it’s building into the sea.

Read More

Navy investigating disks of compressed trash littering Outer Banks beaches

May 17th, 2017

The disks are consistent with those made on ships to compress plastic waste for easy storage, said Ted Brown, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command. Ships are not supposed to dump plastic into the ocean.

Read More

Domino Effect: The Myriad Impacts of Warming on an East Coast Estuary

May 17th, 2017

Delaware Bay provides a case study in how warming oceans, more severe storms, and sea-level rise are impacting estuaries around the world. The effects — from loss of wetlands to steep declines in shorebird populations — cascade throughout the ecosystem.

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No escaping ocean plastic: 37 million bits of litter on one of world’s remotest islands

May 16th, 2017

The beaches of one of the world’s most remote islands have been found to be polluted with the highest density of plastic debris reported anywhere on the planet, a new study shows.

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Concrete, or Beaches? World’s Sand Running Out As Global Construction Booms

May 12th, 2017

A crucial component of concrete, sand is vital to the global construction industry.

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