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

“A Never-Ending Commitment”: The High Cost of Preserving Vulnerable Beaches

In the wake of hurricanes like Florence, the U.S. government pays to dump truckloads of sand onto eroding beaches, in a cycle that is said to harm ecosystems and disproportionately benefit the rich.

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Microplastics found deep in sand where turtles nest

News, Pollution
Sep
26

Scientists found an average of 5,300 particles of plastic per cubic metre at depths of 60cm (2ft) on beaches in Cyprus used by green turtles and loggerheads. These beaches in Cyprus are located far from industrial practices and aren’t visited by large numbers of people. The findings support the theory that beaches act as a “sink” for marine micro plastics.

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Back from the brink: the global effort to save coral from climate change

Underwater nurseries offer glimmer of hope for endangered ecosystems, encouraging growth of coral fragments on fibreglass structures anchored to the seabed.

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Once majestic Atlantic Forest ’empty’ after 500 years of over-exploitation

Five centuries of over-exploitation has halved mammal populations in South America’s Atlantic Forest — according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

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Climate gentrification: the rich can afford to move – what about the poor?

While wealthy Arizonans flee the desert for cooler climes, ‘climate gentrification’ is also affecting hipster Red Hook, exposed on New York City’s floodplain. In Texas, campaigners want the oil industry to help pay for a coastal barrier to shield six counties from storm surges. And Molly Peterson asks what you can do if you buy a disaster-prone property and nobody warned you: so far, not much.

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Dramatic videos capture the moment a massive iceberg breaks away from a glacier

Scientists from New York University captured breathtaking video of a 4-mile-long iceberg breaking off Helheim Glacier in eastern Greenland. While captivating, the researchers see the video as an alarming look at global sea-level rise.

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Op-Ed: Connecting Climate Change, Storms

ortley-beach-nj-2

In a recent Op-Ed, environmental engineer Jason West implored the media to make the connection between intensifying storms and climate change. I couldn’t agree more.

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Beach rebuilding efforts won’t stave off climate change impacts forever

Supplemental sand may have saved a North Carolina beach from Hurricane Florence, but some say the projects aren’t worth it.

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More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Just washing them can pollute the oceans.

marine-debris-orange
Inform, Pollution
Sep
21

It’s no secret that too many of the plastic products we use end up in the ocean. But you might not be aware of one major source of that pollution: our clothes.

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Recent / Inform

Back from the brink: the global effort to save coral from climate change

September 26th, 2018

Underwater nurseries offer glimmer of hope for endangered ecosystems, encouraging growth of coral fragments on fibreglass structures anchored to the seabed.

Read More

Once majestic Atlantic Forest ’empty’ after 500 years of over-exploitation

September 25th, 2018

Five centuries of over-exploitation has halved mammal populations in South America’s Atlantic Forest — according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Read More

Climate gentrification: the rich can afford to move – what about the poor?

September 25th, 2018

While wealthy Arizonans flee the desert for cooler climes, ‘climate gentrification’ is also affecting hipster Red Hook, exposed on New York City’s floodplain. In Texas, campaigners want the oil industry to help pay for a coastal barrier to shield six counties from storm surges. And Molly Peterson asks what you can do if you buy a disaster-prone property and nobody warned you: so far, not much.

Read More

Dramatic videos capture the moment a massive iceberg breaks away from a glacier

September 24th, 2018

Scientists from New York University captured breathtaking video of a 4-mile-long iceberg breaking off Helheim Glacier in eastern Greenland. While captivating, the researchers see the video as an alarming look at global sea-level rise.

Read More

Op-Ed: Connecting Climate Change, Storms

ortley-beach-nj-2

September 24th, 2018

In a recent Op-Ed, environmental engineer Jason West implored the media to make the connection between intensifying storms and climate change. I couldn’t agree more.

Read More

Beach rebuilding efforts won’t stave off climate change impacts forever

September 22nd, 2018

Supplemental sand may have saved a North Carolina beach from Hurricane Florence, but some say the projects aren’t worth it.

Read More

More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Just washing them can pollute the oceans.

marine-debris-orange

September 21st, 2018

It’s no secret that too many of the plastic products we use end up in the ocean. But you might not be aware of one major source of that pollution: our clothes.

Read More

Satellite image shows Florence’s floodwaters polluting the Atlantic

September 20th, 2018

As the Carolinas’ swollen rivers crest, their “polluted floodwaters” are dumping out into the Atlantic, visibly discoloring the water offshore, federal experts have noted.

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Climate change modifies the composition of reefs

September 20th, 2018

Corals devastated by climate change are being replaced naturally by other species such as gorgonians, which are less efficient in acting as a carbon sink. A study has analyzes for the first time why gorgonians are more resistant than corals to human impacts and global climate change.

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Micronizing ocean plastics threaten sea turtle populations, ocean life cycle

September 17th, 2018

Ingestion of degrading ocean plastics likely poses a substantial risk to the survival of post-hatchling sea turtles because the particles can lead to blockages and nutritional deficiencies, according to new research.

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