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

Protecting The Netherlands’ Vulnerable Coasts With A ‘Sand Motor’

Erosion, Inform
Nov
27

Along the southwestern coast of the Netherlands, not far from The Hague, kite surfers glide on the waves around a huge sand peninsula where beachcombers photograph seagulls. But the peninsula is more than just a recreation spot. It’s also an experiment in coastal management: It keeps the sea away from nearby cities.

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As oceans warm, the World’s kelp forests begin to disappear

Kelp forests — luxuriant coastal ecosystems that are home to a wide variety of marine biodiversity — are being wiped out from Tasmania to California, replaced by sea urchin barrens that are nearly devoid of life.

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Sand miners are stripping bare Moroccan beaches; By Ghalia Kadiri / Le Monde

Legal and illegal sand miners are competing in the race to provide sand for use in the construction industry. The traffic is such that entire beaches are disappearing.

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In Puerto Rico town of Rincón, beach slowly replenishes itself, but uncertainty remains

Inform
Nov
22

Rincón, known for its sunsets and as Puerto Rico’s surfing capital, is a place that easily captivates its visitors. It is where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet.

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If we act on climate change now, the economic prize will be immense

Nearly 7,500 cities worldwide have already come together to promote and support climate action. They know that sustainable cities are successful cities.

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Desperate Need to Halt ‘World’s Largest Killer’: Pollution

News, Pollution
Nov
20

Now that the lights of the UN climate change summit’s meeting rooms having been turned off in Bonn, after a week of intense negotiations and some partial results, another major environmental event is now schedule in Nairobi, this time to search for ways to halt the world’s major killer: pollution.

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Seafloor sediments appear to enhance earthquake and tsunami danger in Pacific Northwest

Inform
Nov
20

The Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast of the Pacific Northwest has all the ingredients for making powerful earthquakes—and according to the geological record, the region is due for its next “big one.”

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The global resource shortage you have never heard about

If someone were to ask you to name the most-extracted materials on Earth, you might answer with fossil fuels or biomass. However, by weight, the answer is actually sand and gravel.

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Sea levels are already rising. What’s next?

Climate change is battering coasts with storms and floods, but we still haven’t grappled with the risks of what’s to come.

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Recent / Inform

Sand miners are stripping bare Moroccan beaches; By Ghalia Kadiri / Le Monde

November 24th, 2017

Legal and illegal sand miners are competing in the race to provide sand for use in the construction industry. The traffic is such that entire beaches are disappearing.

Read More

In Puerto Rico town of Rincón, beach slowly replenishes itself, but uncertainty remains

November 22nd, 2017

Rincón, known for its sunsets and as Puerto Rico’s surfing capital, is a place that easily captivates its visitors. It is where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet.

Read More

If we act on climate change now, the economic prize will be immense

November 22nd, 2017

Nearly 7,500 cities worldwide have already come together to promote and support climate action. They know that sustainable cities are successful cities.

Read More

Desperate Need to Halt ‘World’s Largest Killer’: Pollution

November 20th, 2017

Now that the lights of the UN climate change summit’s meeting rooms having been turned off in Bonn, after a week of intense negotiations and some partial results, another major environmental event is now schedule in Nairobi, this time to search for ways to halt the world’s major killer: pollution.

Read More

Seafloor sediments appear to enhance earthquake and tsunami danger in Pacific Northwest

November 20th, 2017

The Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast of the Pacific Northwest has all the ingredients for making powerful earthquakes—and according to the geological record, the region is due for its next “big one.”

Read More

The global resource shortage you have never heard about

November 20th, 2017

If someone were to ask you to name the most-extracted materials on Earth, you might answer with fossil fuels or biomass. However, by weight, the answer is actually sand and gravel.

Read More

Sea levels are already rising. What’s next?

November 19th, 2017

Climate change is battering coasts with storms and floods, but we still haven’t grappled with the risks of what’s to come.

Read More

The zombie diseases of permafrost

November 19th, 2017

What lurks in the Arctic’s thawing permafrost? Climate change, in other words, could awaken Earth’s forgotten pathogens. It is one of the most bizarre symptoms of global warming. And it has already begun to happen.

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More exploration approved at Icy Cape, Alaska

November 18th, 2017

A long stretch of beach at Icy Cape near Yakutat holds the possibility of massive mineral deposit that could produce millions in mining revenue for the Alaska Mental Health Land Trust.

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Radioactivity Lingers from 1946-1958 Nuclear Bomb Tests

November 18th, 2017

Scientists have found lingering radioactivity in the lagoons of remote Marshall Island atolls in the Pacific Ocean where the United States conducted 66 nuclear weapons tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

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