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

Brazil’s Jubarte Field Oil Spill Under Navy Investigation

News, Pollution

An oil spill was discovered off Brazil’s coast near the country’s Espirito Santo state, Brazil’s Navy said on Thursday, the latest in a series of spills that have raised questions about the safety of a massive expansion of the country’s oil production capacity.

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How to Save Bangladesh?

Bangladesh sits at the end of the cone of the Bay of Bengal. The country is infamous for natural disasters. Most of the land is flat and just above sea level, every storm sweeps across the country without any obstacles, and tidal surges pound the coast. About 150 million people live here, and the population density is one of the highest in the world after places like Singapore and Hong Kong…

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Hawaii’s Beaches Are in Retreat, and Its Way of Life May Follow

Little by little, Hawaii’s iconic beaches are disappearing…

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Study Links Biodiversity and Language Loss

As the world grows less biologically diverse, it is becoming less linguistically and culturally diverse as well…

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Number of English Beaches Gaining Blue Flag Awards Rises

News, Pollution

The number of England’s beaches gaining Blue Flag awards for cleanliness has increased in 2012. But about 30% of the beaches might not reach tougher water quality standards being introduced next year.

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Living Planet Report 2012: Looks At Ecological State Of The Earth

Twenty years on from the Rio Earth summit, the environment of the planet is getting worse not better, according to a report from WWF. Humans are currently using the equivalent of one and a half Earths to support our activities. This and other startling findings were revealed tuesday with the release of World Wildlife Fund’s 2012 Living Planet Report.

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Navy study: Sonar, Blasts Might Hurt More Sea Life

The U.S. Navy may hurt more dolphins and whales by using sonar and explosives in Hawaii and California under a more thorough analysis that reflects new research and covers naval activities in a wider area than previous studies.

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Herd’s Fate Lies in Preservation Clash

Come summer, the beaches of this barrier island will be choked with cars and sunbathers, but in the off-season the land is left to wild horses.

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UN Adopts Historic Land Grab Guidelines

Inform, News

Over the past few years, companies and foreign governments have been leasing large areas of land for farming and exploitation, in some of Africa’s poorest countries. All evidence points to a phenomenon of unprecedented scale, raising serious questions about the terms of the contracts that governments are signing up to..

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Recent / Inform

“100 percent trash boat” sets sail in Taiwan

June 9th, 2011

“ForEver” a boat built completely from plastic bottles and other recycled materials, including old advertising banners, set sail in Taiwan to raise awareness about the marine environment. As Canadian province of Manitoba bans plastic water bottles from its offices.

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EPA Concerns to Proposed Oil Pipeline From Canada to Gulf Coast

June 8th, 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency has raised concerns about a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.

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South West Marine Debris Cleanup

June 7th, 2011

The South West Marine Debris Cleanup is an annual trip orchestrated by Environmental Scientist Matt Dell to the remote wilderness of Tasmania, where tonnes of rubbish can be found on the beaches of this pristine and isolated environment.This is his story. A video by Johnny Abegg.

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Florida Truncates Eco-Safeguards On Beach Projects

June 6th, 2011

Florida has suspended key protections to reduce or prevent environmental harm and public health risks in rebuilding eroded beaches with dredged materials, according to agency documents posted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a membership organization of employees in natural resources agencies.

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Salt Mapper For Climate Forecasts, NASA

June 5th, 2011

Today’s scientists have learned that they can harness salt- this invaluable mineral- to foresee the future of Earth’s climate.

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Rising sea levels endangering Australia’s World Heritage-listed Kakadu wetlands

June 4th, 2011

A study released by Australia Government, finds that Kakadu National Park, a protected northern territory, half the size of Switzerland, is one of Australia’s “natural ecosystems most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change”, with higher oceans being a “serious risk” to its ecosystem.

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Being Part Of The Solution: Marine Debris Tracker

June 3rd, 2011

A new app lets anyone with an iPhone or Smartphone to report trash on beaches and waterways, and help scientists too. Indeed, with plastic bags, cans, abandoned or lost fishing gear and other marine debris washing up on our shores each year, the app could help combat the global marine debris problem, according to NOAA.

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C40 Large Cities Climate Summit

June 2nd, 2011

A financing agreement with the World Bank to help the world’s major cities better adapt to climate change, has been reached a the fourth C40 summit, in Sao Paulo.

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EPA Begins Monitoring Summer Monitoring to Protect Area Beaches, Coastal Waters

June 2nd, 2011

With the beginning of the beach season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is undertaking a beach and harbor protection program to safeguard beaches and bays in New Jersey and New York and protect the health of the people who enjoy them.

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China to step up fight against plastic addiction

May 30th, 2011

Around three billion plastic bags were being used daily in China before the 2008 ban. Since then, according to the NDRC, people have used at least 24 billion fewer plastic bags every year, and 100 billion plastic shopping bags may have been kept out of landfills as a result of the law.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
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