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

US opens ways for Shell drilling in Arctic Ocean

News, Pollution

The US Interior Department has opened the doors to Shell’s proposal for four shallow water exploration wells in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea to start in July 2012.

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Green Algae Chokes Eastern China’s Beaches

News, Pollution

In Qingdoo, Shandong Eastern Province of China, the coastal waters are covered with algae called enteromorpha prolifera. Though this green algae is not poisonous per se, it consumes large amounts of oxygen that can threaten marine life.

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Oil pollution in Niger Delta: Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland Report; Unep

News, Pollution

A report by the UN Environment Programme, which carried out a 14-month assessment of pollution from over 50 years of oil operations in Ogoniland – Niger Delta region, has found widespread and devastating oil pollution that may require the world’s biggest ever clean-up, that could take 20-30 years. The UNEP also called for the oil industry and the Nigerian government to contribute $1 billion to a clean-up fund for the region to properly address this “tragic legacy.”

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Ban turtle eggs trade in Malaysia: WWF

Sea turtles once arrived in their thousands to lay eggs on Malaysian beaches, but are now increasingly rare due to poaching and coastal development.

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Ice-shelf collapse from subsurface warming as a trigger for Heinrich events.

An analysis of prehistoric “Heinrich events”creating mass discharges of icebergs into the North Atlantic Ocean, make it clear that very small amounts of subsurface warming of water can trigger a rapid collapse of ice shelves, scientists say.

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Ancient Tides Quite Different From Today

Geological forces that act over hundreds to millions of years, such as plate tectonics, ice ages, land uplift, erosion and sedimentation, have caused the tides, generally thought to be one of the most predictable forces on Earth, to vary wildly throughout history, according to a new study.

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Run Over Accident On Florida Beach

One of the reason why driving on the beach should not be permitted…

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Blue Carbon Initiative: Buried Treasure For Climate and Coastal Communities

Dubbed “blue carbon” for their ability to sequester and store huge amounts of carbon, mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes- show great climate mitigation potential, immediately available and cost-effective, for removing greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. The Blue Carbon Initiative program, draw the world’s attention to the crucial role of these direly threaten coastal ecosystems, in the fight against carbon emissions.

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Unexpected Source of Sea Level Rise Found

Surprising patterns of melting during the last interglacial period suggest that Greenland’s ice may be more stable, and Antarctica’s less stable, than many thought, a new study shows.

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Recent / Inform

Scotland pristine white sand targeted by thieves in midnight raids

June 6th, 2010

Tiree’s stretches of pristine white sand have been targeted by thieves stealing tonne upon tonne of sand.

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The damages caused by Singapore’s insatiable thirst for land

June 4th, 2010

Fuelled by Singapore’s land and construction demands sand mining is wreaking environmental destruction across south-east Asia.

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A Challenge to Florida Beach-Driving Tradition

June 4th, 2010

Driving on the beach is a long-standing tradition in many areas of the United States. Questions linger after a 4-year-old girl from the United Kingdom was hit and killed by a car on the sand along Daytona Beach.

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A Feast Interrupted

June 4th, 2010

Every few days, in some places as often as twice a day, tractors roll along a hundred miles or so of sandy beaches in southern California, changing rich coastal habitats into barren plains of unstable sand.

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In the belly of the whale

June 3rd, 2010

A snapshot of the trash that’s ending up in our oceans.

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Sand Trafficking: Elaborate Schemes, Worlwide

June 1st, 2010

Elaborate schemes to steal beach sand.

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Tar sands oil extraction spreading rapidly, report warns.

May 30th, 2010

BP is developing tar sands in Alberta and also in Venezuela, the world’s second largest reserves after Canada, where it is active on the Petromonagas block and is also considering the Ayacucho 2 block.

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Gravel beaches trapping oil from 1989 Exxon spill

May 29th, 2010

An engineering professor has figured out why oil remains trapped along miles of gravel beaches more than 20 years after the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in Prince William Sound.

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Take punitive action against BP now

May 27th, 2010

It’s interesting how many people have swallowed the BP public relations’ bait to call the explosion from Deepwater Horizon oil rig the Gulf oil spill. We need to call it what it is: the BP oil spill.

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How High Will Seas Rise? Get Ready for Seven Feet

May 25th, 2010

As governments, businesses, and homeowners plan for the future, they should assume that the world’s oceans will rise by at least two meters, roughly seven feet, this century. But far too few agencies or individuals are preparing for the inevitable increase in sea level that will take place as polar ice sheets melt.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
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