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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

Beating land pressures

High land prices, particularly in coastal areas, make reclamation a relatively ‘cheap’ option for many port expansion projects.

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Exploratory Drilling For Gas To Begin Soon Off Cyprus Southern Coast

News, Pollution
Sep
13

U.S. firm Noble Energy will soon begin exploratory drilling to confirm oil and gas deposits beneath the sea bed off Cyprus’ southern coast despite Turkey’s attempts to prevent such a move.

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Study Predicts Sea Level Rise May Take Economic Toll On California Coast

California beach towns could face hefty economic losses caused by sea level rise in the next century, according to a new state-commissioned study conducted by economists at San Francisco State University.

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Sea Levels Much Less Stable Than Earlier Believed

New evidence of sea-level oscillations during a warm period that started about 125,000 years ago raises the possibility of a similar scenario if the planet continues its more recent warming trend, new coral dating method suggests.

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Arctic Ice Cover Hits Historic Low

The area covered by Arctic sea ice reached it lowest point this week since the start of satellite observations in 1972, German researchers announced on Saturday.

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Nags Heads Shoreline Losses A Lot Of Sand, And Money

Just weeks before the expected completion of a $36 million beach nourishment project, Hurricane Irene may have chewed away as much as 25 percent of the new sand pumped onto the Nags Head shoreline.

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Kiribati ponders floating island to fight sea rise

The Pacific Islands Forum opened with a passionate plea from Kiribati for help staving off rising seas caused by climate change, as he is considering ideas such as building a floating island…

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Fears in Miami That Port Expansion Will Destroy Reefs

As Miami prepares to dredge its port to accommodate supersize freighters, environmentalists are making a last-ditch effort to protect threatened coral reefs and acres of sea grass that they say would be destroyed by the expansion.

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Baltic Sea Countries Do Not Live Up To Commitments: WWF

The nine countries with a Baltic Sea coast are not doing enough to protect the very polluted body of water, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said in the Baltic Sea Scorecard 2011, a report that assesses how good the countries around the Baltic Sea are at implementing environmental measures and agreements.

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Recent / Inform

Plastiki: a journey from plastic trash to triumph

July 26th, 2010

Sailboat made using 12,500 recycled plastic bottles reaches Sydney, Australia, after four-month voyage to highlight recycling and marine plastic pollution.

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Exploring Algae as Fuel

July 26th, 2010

Many academic laboratories, are pursuing the same goal, to produce algae as a source of, literally, green energy.

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Plastiki reaches Australia

July 23rd, 2010

The boat made from recycled plastic bottles reaches Australia. Aim of voyage is to raise awareness of plastic waste and reduce plastic pollution.

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Indian Ocean Sea Level Rise Threatens Millions

July 22nd, 2010

Indian Ocean sea levels are rising unevenly and threatening residents in some densely populated coastal areas, particularly those along the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and Java.

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The Second Life of Green Algae

July 21st, 2010

Harmful when covering the beaches, green algae can be valued.

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Sea carves new island from Prince Edward Island shore

July 20th, 2010

The sea carved a channel about 100 metres wide through the five-kilometre stretch of sand dunes, cutting it roughly in half.

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Forging a Coherent Oceans Policy

July 19th, 2010

White House plans better use of oceans and zoning human uses of coastal seas.

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When sand mining starts, wildlife disappears, Selangor, Malaysia

July 18th, 2010

Wetlands in danger due to sand mining.

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Photos tell different stories about sand berm effort to block oil spill

July 16th, 2010

Critics and supporters of building sand berms to shield Louisiana’s coast from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have released dueling photo sequences.

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A Sand Trap in the Gulf; By Robert Young, in The New York Times

July 16th, 2010

Of the many cleanup solutions being pursued in the Gulf of Mexico, few are as ambitious as Louisiana’s berm project.

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