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

Taking stock of the world’s sandy beaches

Erosion, Inform
Aug
2

About 31 percent of the world’s coastlines are sandy. Africa has the highest proportion of sandy beaches (66 percent) and Europe has the lowest (22 percent). Researchers found that beaches in Australia and Africa have experienced more erosion than growth. The opposite is true on all other continents, where beaches are generally growing…

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Earth Overshoot Day: August 1st, 2018

Earth Overshoot Day is not a day to be celebrated, but it is a day that deserves to be noticed and acted upon. It’s the day we go into ‘nature debt,’ utilizing more than the year’s supply of water, forest and agricultural resources

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Sea level rise has already sunk Carolinas beach property values — by $1.6 billion, study finds

Sea levels are rising and the southeast has already lost billions in property value, a recent study shows. Scientists have found $7.4 billion was lost in home values across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Florida because of sea level rise flooding from 2005 to 2017.

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Sea mammal on brink of extinction targeted by “mafias” in Baja, Mexico

There’s a crisis going on in the Pacific Ocean as an innocent porpoise falls prey to money and greed. The Vaquita is only about 4 feet long, weighs less than 100 lbs and calls the waters off the coast of Baja, Mexico home. With fewer than 30 left, it’s the most endangered marine mammal in the world.

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Cruise line faces backlash over shooting of polar bear

ocean giants

A German cruise line is facing outrage after one of its employees shot and killed a wild polar bear in Norway after the animal attacked another of its employees.

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Hong Kong land reclamation explained: the good, bad and ugly methods of pushing back the sea

About 6 per cent of city is reclaimed land, and while extending the shoreline of a land-starved society seems ever more attractive, critics say it would not solve housing issues. At the same time, conservation groups such as WWF and Greenpeace say reclamation is environmentally catastrophic.

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A mourning orca mother carried her dead baby for days through the ocean

A grieving mother orca near Vancouver Island has been carrying her dead calf for four days, after refusing to leave her baby behind when the rest of her pod left. The sad display speaks to something deeper. Killer whales eat salmon, and a number of human practices, such as damming rivers, have taken a toll on native salmon populations.

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Study Finds Link Between River Outflow and Coastal Sea Level

Sea levels in coastal areas can be affected by a number of factors: tides, winds, waves, and even barometric pressure all play a role in the ebb and flow of the ocean. For the first time, however, a new study has shown that river outflow could play a role in sea level change as well.

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First mapping of global marine wilderness shows just how little remains

Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on July 26 have completed the first systematic analysis of marine wilderness around the world. And what they found is not encouraging; only a small fraction of the world’s ocean can still be classified as wilderness. In coastal regions, there is almost no marine wilderness left at all.

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Recent / Inform

Sea level rise has already sunk Carolinas beach property values — by $1.6 billion, study finds

July 30th, 2018

Sea levels are rising and the southeast has already lost billions in property value, a recent study shows. Scientists have found $7.4 billion was lost in home values across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Florida because of sea level rise flooding from 2005 to 2017.

Read More

Sea mammal on brink of extinction targeted by “mafias” in Baja, Mexico

July 30th, 2018

There’s a crisis going on in the Pacific Ocean as an innocent porpoise falls prey to money and greed. The Vaquita is only about 4 feet long, weighs less than 100 lbs and calls the waters off the coast of Baja, Mexico home. With fewer than 30 left, it’s the most endangered marine mammal in the world.

Read More

Cruise line faces backlash over shooting of polar bear

ocean giants

July 29th, 2018

A German cruise line is facing outrage after one of its employees shot and killed a wild polar bear in Norway after the animal attacked another of its employees.

Read More

Hong Kong land reclamation explained: the good, bad and ugly methods of pushing back the sea

July 29th, 2018

About 6 per cent of city is reclaimed land, and while extending the shoreline of a land-starved society seems ever more attractive, critics say it would not solve housing issues. At the same time, conservation groups such as WWF and Greenpeace say reclamation is environmentally catastrophic.

Read More

A mourning orca mother carried her dead baby for days through the ocean

July 28th, 2018

A grieving mother orca near Vancouver Island has been carrying her dead calf for four days, after refusing to leave her baby behind when the rest of her pod left. The sad display speaks to something deeper. Killer whales eat salmon, and a number of human practices, such as damming rivers, have taken a toll on native salmon populations.

Read More

Study Finds Link Between River Outflow and Coastal Sea Level

July 28th, 2018

Sea levels in coastal areas can be affected by a number of factors: tides, winds, waves, and even barometric pressure all play a role in the ebb and flow of the ocean. For the first time, however, a new study has shown that river outflow could play a role in sea level change as well.

Read More

First mapping of global marine wilderness shows just how little remains

July 27th, 2018

Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on July 26 have completed the first systematic analysis of marine wilderness around the world. And what they found is not encouraging; only a small fraction of the world’s ocean can still be classified as wilderness. In coastal regions, there is almost no marine wilderness left at all.

Read More

The sinking state

July 27th, 2018

This is what happens when climate change forces an entire country to seek higher ground.

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Why mangroves matter: Experts respond on International Mangrove Day

July 26th, 2018

Given all that mangroves do, it is unsurprising that the forests have a special day dedicated to them: July 26, International Mangrove Day. However, mangroves have declined rapidly around the world. What does the disappearance of this special forest ecosystem mean for our planet? This is what some mangrove experts have to say.

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Earth’s resources consumed in ever greater destructive volumes

July 25th, 2018

Humanity is devouring our planet’s resources in increasingly destructive volumes. As a result, the Earth Overshoot Day – which marks the point at which consumption exceeds the capacity of nature to regenerate – has moved forward two days to 1 August, the earliest date ever recorded.

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