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

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
May
12

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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In Rhode Island, Protecting a Shoreline and a Lifeline

Coastal erosion, a natural effect of Matunuck’s direct exposure to the elements in an area prone to sand-sucking northeasters, has shrunk parts of the once more than 100 feet beach, to less than a dozen feet during high tide…

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Update from Senegal: Changing Things and Shaping the Future

The Senegalese government cancelled all fishing permits for foreign“pelagic trawlers,” large fishing vessels that drag nets below the surface of the ocean. This should remind leaders that with political will and courage, they can change things and shape the future of their people for the better.

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Supreme Court Asked to Halt Black Sand Mining, Philippines

News, Sand Mining
May
10

To prevent further destruction of the coastline, public officials and concerned citizens filed with the Supreme Court to issue a writ against a mining project to extract black sand.

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Pebble Beach Development Plan: Coastal Community Expected To Give Green Light

The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to allow Pebble Beach Co. to build 90 homes in coastal Monterey County’s Del Monte Forest…

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Plastic Trash Altering Ocean Habitats

News, Pollution
May
9

Sharp increase of small plastic debris in the ‘Garbage Patch’ could have ecosystem-wide consequences.

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Past and future contribution of global groundwater depletion to sea-level rise

As people pump groundwater for irrigation, drinking water, and industrial uses, the water doesn’t just seep back into the ground, it also evaporates into the atmosphere, or runs off into rivers and canals, eventually emptying into the world’s oceans.

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Peru issues public health alert over pelican and dolphin deaths

The government of Peru has warned people to stay off beaches along large stretches of its northern coastline as it investigates the mysterious deaths of hundreds of dolphins and seabirds.

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Recent / Inform

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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Climate Change Impacts in China

May 27th, 2011

The received wisdom used to be that climate change would have relatively little impact on China. But that views seems outdated.

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Scientists Argue Against Conclusion That Bacteria Consumed Deepwater Horizon Methane

May 27th, 2011

Some scientists cast doubt on a widely publicized study that concluded that a bacterial bloom in the Gulf of Mexico consumed the methane discharged from the Deepwater Horizon well. The debate has implications for the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

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Beaches In Britain Beat 2010’s Bathing Quality Standards

May 26th, 2011

More beaches given the top rating this year, but slightly more failed to meet basic water standards

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The Peril of Plastic

May 26th, 2011

Many scientists believe marine plastic pollution is one of the major issues, along with climate change, facing the planet.

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Plastic Pollution in Namibia

May 26th, 2011

The beaches are beautiful, but a walk along the shoreline and a quick beach cleanup showed that like coastal areas all over the world, Namibia has a problem with plastic trash accumulating on its otherwise relatively pristine beaches.

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Mediterranean Sea Invaded by Hundreds of Alien Species

May 25th, 2011

More than 900 new alien species have been encountered in the coastal environments of the eastern Mediterranean Sea in recent decades.

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Australian Sea levels Set To Rise By Up To a Metre: Report

May 23rd, 2011

Sea levels will rise by more than three feet by the end of the century making severe coastal flooding a common factor of life in Australia if urgent action is not taken to limit climate change, a key report by a panel of climate scientists has found.

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Division over future of Chagos islands and islanders

May 22nd, 2011

Meeting in London addresses environmental issues surrounding the ban on inhabitation of the Indian Ocean archipelago. The central question was how to balance the archipelago’s environmental importance with its original inhabitants’ argued right to go home.

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