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

Senate Panel Approves Sea-Level Rise Bill, North Carolina

Unfazed by a heavy barrage of worldwide criticism and outright ridicule by sources ranging from Scientific American to the “Colbert Report,” the N.C. Senate’s Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee approved a new version of a bill that restricts the use of scientific modeling in state and local public policy and regulations to predict future sea-level rise.

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For the Future of Our Planet, a Dialogue Between Generations

For the sake of our planet, a conversation that needs to be heard is the one between generations, between elders and young people around the world, and those who are in between…

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Cities to Face Sharply Rising Costs for Garbage Treatment

News, Pollution
Jun
9

A new, far-reaching World Bank report on the state of municipal solid waste around the world predicts a sharp rise in the amount of garbage generated by urban residents between now and 2025.

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World’s urban waste mountain a silent problem that is growing daily

News, Pollution
Jun
6

The amount of garbage generated by city dwellers is set to rise steeply in the next two decades, with much of the increase coming in fast-growing cities in developing countries, according to a World Bank report.

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Consumption driving unprecedented environment damage: UN

Of 90 key goals to protect the environment, only four have seen good progress, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a planetary assessment issued only every five years…

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The Word: Sink or Swim

Scientists predict an economy-destroying, 39-inch sea level rise, but North Carolina drafts a law to make it eight inches. A comedic depiction of the NC legislators proposal. A short video from The Colbert Report, Comedy Central.

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Exceptional Rise in Ancient Sea Levels Revealed

Since the end of the last ice age 21,000 years ago, our planet has seen ocean levels rise by 120m to reach their current levels. These studies have shed new light on the complex relationship between climate, ocean circulation and sea levels.

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Turbidity Caused by Sand Dredging Heightens Toxicity Levels and Threaten Marine Life

Monitoring stations at Gladstone Harbour recorded dangerously high turbidity levels due to sand dredging, at the same time as UNESCO was issuing dire warnings about the possible degradation of the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status…

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UN Warns Australia To Protect The Great Barrier Of Reef

UNESCO has warned Australia not to allow development of new ports along the Great Barrier Reef, as the World Heritage-listed natural wonder is under threat from unprecedented coastal development. UNESCO has given Australia eight months to improve management of the Great Barrier Reef before it is listed as in danger.

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Recent / Inform

Viruses Bathe at the Beach Too, European Study Finds

July 9th, 2011

European researchers have found viruses in nearly 40% of more than 1,400 bathing water samples gathered from coastal and inland areas in nine countries.

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Australia Carbon Pollution Tax Announcement: A Start!

July 8th, 2011

Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard, is on Sunday due to unveil the full detail of her carbon tax legislation, which will see the country’s top 500 polluters charged per tonne of carbon dioxide they emit into the atmosphere.

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Puerto Rico coast still ruled by 1886 law

July 8th, 2011

A Spanish law crafted in 1886 still governs development along Puerto Rico’s sprawling coastline, worrying activists and legislators who say the ancient mandate has allowed construction along ecologically sensitive beaches.

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Outrage At Drilling Permit For Australia Reef

July 8th, 2011

UNESCO just listed Australian western Ningaloo coast as a World Heritage site late last month due to its reef, sea turtles and white whales.But environmentalists expressed outrage after the Australian government green-lighted a proposal from Shell to explore for gas nearby.

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Oil and gas spills in North Sea every week

July 7th, 2011

According to an investigative report and documents obtained in Britain, serious and largely unpublicised spills of oil and gas from North Sea platforms, are occurring at the rate of one a week.

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Red Knots Shorebirds and Horseshoe Crabs Knotted Together

July 5th, 2011

A shorebird species whose population has plummeted over the last 15 years, has been directly tied to the number of egg-laying horseshoe crabs. This is one of the first studies to scientifically support the ecological links between these two species.

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Mass tourism threatening Venice lagoon

July 4th, 2011

An Italian environmental group warned that mass tourism is slowly eroding the Venice lagoon, which it said is also threatened by major real estate development and an inadequate transport network.

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Sandbagged: The Undoing of a Quarter Century of North Carolina Coastal Conservation

July 4th, 2011

Men cannot build houses upon sand and expect to see them stand now anymore than they could in the olden times… Many developers, homeowners, and local politicians refuse to believe the evidence that the ocean’s transformation of the shore is inevitable. By Gary Lazorick.

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An other Oil Spill into Gulf of Bohai, Northeastern Coast of China

July 3rd, 2011

Once again, oil has been seeping into the Gulf of Bohai, since mid-June, from a rig off its northeastern coast, but the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) waited until July 1 to confirm details of the accident to investors.

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Elwha River Restoration: Dams Removal Project

July 2nd, 2011

This September, removal of two dams on the Elwha River, in Washington State, begins, setting in motion one of the largest restoration projects in U.S. history.

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