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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

Coastal Populations Are Healthier Than Those Inland, UK Study Finds

Celebrate, Inform
Jul
18

A new study from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter, has revealed that people living near the coast tend to have better health than those living inland.

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Coral Reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean Naturally Tougher Than Caribbean Reefs

Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Great Barrier Reef, recover faster from major stresses than their Caribbean counterparts, leading marine scientists have said.

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Brazil biologists investigate penguin deaths

Brazilian biologists are investigating the deaths of more than 500 penguins found washed up on the beaches of Rio Grande do Sul state.

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Trigger for Past Rapid Sea Level Rise Discovered

The cause of rapid sea level rise in the past has been found by scientists at the University of Bristol using climate and ice sheet models.

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Legislators rule prediction of rising sea out of bounds

In North Carolina, lawmakers have passed a law about planning for rising seas. Basically, it forbids coastal communities from making any plans that factor in the latest climate change science.

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Illegal Sand Mining Complaints; Sindhdurga, India

News, Sand Mining
Jul
11

A resort in Sindhdurga has complained to the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) of illegal sand dredging in the Mochemaad creek that has destroyed the mangroves.

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Trinidad Leatherback Turtle Hatchlings Crushed

Thousands of leatherback turtle eggs and hatchlings have been crushed by bulldozers on Trinidad’s northern coast.

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Top Marine Scientists Warn Reefs In Rapid Decline

More than 2,600 of the world’s top marine scientists warned coral reefs around the world were in rapid decline and urged immediate global action on climate change to save what remains.

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The White Cliffs of Dover are a Hidden Natural Gem

This chalky stretch of the Kent coast is as important for its natural history as its part in human history and national identity

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Recent / Inform

Haitian Divers Hope to Aid Ailing Reef

September 3rd, 2011

Environmental degradation is rife in Haiti, deforestation, erosion, pollution, and for the most part it is hard to miss. But for decades the country’s marine environment has suffered unseen. Its extensive coral reef system, an attraction to foreign scuba divers in the 1970s and ’80s, has largely died off, partly from sedimentation and climate change, but mostly from overfishing.

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Floating Cities: Strategies of Adaptation And Long-Lasting Anticipation ?

September 2nd, 2011

Climate change is redefining the rules by which we live and at a pace we never expected. Because of rising sea level, several areas of the globe are in danger of vanishing from the map, disappearing under water. Society must adapt and maybe, one day, live in floating houses. Emerging designs and technologies promote the concept of living with natural flooding instead of resisting it …

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Kelp Farming Is On Its Way

August 31st, 2011

The Norwegian coastline, including all its islands, is twice as long as the Equator, thus possesses huge areas suitable for cultivating seaweed and kelp, and could provide two billion litres of kelp-based fuel a year, in a 15 million tons worldwide kelp-based industry. However, stricts quotas would need to be implemented as kelp forests are important nursery and feeding grounds for a wide range of invertebrates and fish…

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Toxic Algae Still Turns Brittany’s Beaches Green

August 29th, 2011

One year after the French Government launched a National Plan Against Green Algae, toxic seaweed which have accumulated on beaches in Brittany, are still causing great problems along the country’s coastlines. All summer long, there have been constant and costly efforts to remove tons of toxic algae from beaches, but no sooner than the seaweed is removed, more grows.

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Oil Pipeline From Alberta Tar Sands To Texas Coast: On Its Way To Final Approval

August 27th, 2011

In a blow to campaigners, the US State Department said the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline, that will pump oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas coast, would not cause significant damage to the environment…

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Dirty Laundry: Greenpeace Reports on Toxic Industrial Water Pollution

August 26th, 2011

A report just released by Greenpeace International, after a year-long study research into industrial water pollution, reveals the presence of hazardous chemicals in clothing items bearing the logos of 14 global popular brands, linking many of the same clothing brands to suppliers in China who were found to be releasing daily cocktail of chemicals into the Pearl River and Yangtze River deltas, discharging into the China Sea…

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NASA Satellites Detect Pothole on Road to Higher Seas

August 25th, 2011

Like mercury in a thermometer, ocean waters expand as they warm which contributes to drive sea levels higher over the long term. For the past 18 years, the U.S./French Jason-1, Jason-2 and Topex/Poseidon spacecraft have been monitoring the gradual rise of the world’s ocean in response to global warming.This year, continents got extra dose of rain, so much so that global sea levels actually fell over most of the last year.

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Goa’s Coast Faces Overwhelming Pollution, India

August 23rd, 2011

Beer bottles and plastic bags litter most beaches and only the distant sunsets remain untouched…

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North Sea Oil Pollution: “Something has gone wrong here,” Shell Declared

August 23rd, 2011

It’s not the most reassuring apology in the world; alongside the apology came the admission that the second leak could take weeks to fix, that the pipe that sprung the leak is more than 30 years old, and that if Shell’s risk assessment, maintenance and inspection processes had been better, the accident wouldn’t have happened in the first place…

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Growth of Cities Endangers Global Environment, Coastlines Being Most At Risk

August 22nd, 2011

The explosive growth of cities worldwide poses significant risks to people and the global environment, predominantly along the coastlines, where urbanization has increased the most rapidly, dramatically and dangerously, a Yale study reports.

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