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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

“100 percent trash boat” sets sail in Taiwan

News, Pollution
Jun
9

“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

News, Pollution
Jun
8

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

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

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

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

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

News, Pollution
Jun
3

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

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

News, Pollution
Jun
2

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