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

Why The Oceans Matter

Films, Pollution

“People have the ability to make history, to create positive changes. We need another revolution, we need a healthier planet…” A National Geographic video.

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India Stems Tide Of Pollution Into Ganges River

News, Pollution

Even as pollution levels in the Ganges River continue to rise, recent legal rulings may offer up a new defense of the sacred waterway. The Allahabad High Court, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, ordered the closure of more than 100 tanneries that pour tons of toxic chromium into the Ganges each year …

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Mining to blame for islands to sink beneath waves

Two small islands in South Asia’s first marine biosphere reserve, in the Gulf of Mannar, between India and Sri Lanka, did sink into the sea primarily as a result of coral reef mining, experts said. The corals were mined for use as a binding material in the construction industry, as they were rich in calcium carbonate.

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Illegal sand mining threatens Suvali’s ecosystem, India

News, Sand Mining

Continuous illegal sand mining from costal village near Surat, has created threat upon the existence of the beaches. Miners are pumping out sand without any fear, while the administration appears totally unaware about the entire situation.

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Chevron Accepts Responsibility For Oil Spill Off Brazil’s Coast

News, Pollution

California oil giant Chevron Corp. promised to fully clean up a spill off Brazil’s coast, taking responsibility for an accident that has become a major test for one of the world’s fastest-growing oil frontiers. 416,400 litres had leaked so far, since the accident happened almost two weeks ago…

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UN: Concentrations Of Greenhouse Gases Hit Record

Ahead of the 12-day UN meeting in Durban, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on Monday reported that carbon dioxide (CO2), the biggest source of heat-trapping gases, had accelerated to a new peak in 2010.

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Taxes on natural resources reduce use of raw materials

News, Sand Mining

A policy that taxes virgin natural resources (resources that are used for the first time) can be a way of conserving limited resources. This type of tax can also reduce environmental damage, by encouraging the use of less harmful materials or recycled materials that serve the same purpose. This avoids the waste and emissions associated with extraction of raw materials and with the processing of products made from the natural resources.

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Can Egypt Escape Its Climate Future?

” The Mediterranean is remorselessly battering the Egyptian coastline. Salt is leaching into the rich soils and invading the drinking water wells, 1,000-year-old homes are being eroded from below. Sea levels are inexorably rising and storms are becoming more intense…” A first article of a Climate Journey across Africa, which is experiencing rising temperatures, coastal erosion, storms and water scarcity. Narrated by environmental journalist John Vidal.

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Miss South Pacific: Beauty And The Sea Trailer

What does a beauty pageant in Suva, Fiji have to do with climate change? Quite a lot, as it turns out. “Miss South Pacific: Beauty and the Sea” is a short documentary film about a Miss South Pacific Pageant that brought contestants, to Suva, Fiji to address issues of rising sea levels, and the salt water intrusion that is destroying their land and drinking water.

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Recent / Inform

Costa Rica Recognized for Biodiversity Protection

October 25th, 2010

“We are declaring peace with nature,” said Mario Fernández Silva, the ambassador of Costa Rica. The nation wins 2010 Future Policy award for pioneering legal protection of natural wealth. The EU and Canada lead the way to extinction, with China and Brazil close behind,” noted the CBD Alliance.

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Battling Flood issues, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

October 25th, 2010

The coastal city of Port of Spain, was built on mud flats and reclaimed lands from the sea. At high tide, with virtually a drizzle, the city is prone to major flooding.

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Arctic Report Card 2010

October 23rd, 2010

In 2006, NOAA’s Climate Program Office introduced the annual Arctic Report Card, which established a baseline of conditions at the beginning of the 21st century to monitor the quickly changing conditions in the Arctic, also called the “planet’s refrigerator.”

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Measuring sea-level rise in the Falklands, 19th-Century Benchmarks Reveal

October 20th, 2010

Sea levels around the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic have risen since the mid nineteenth century and the rate of sea-level rise has accelerated over recent decades.

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India Creates a National Green Tribunal to Try Environmental Cases

October 19th, 2010

It is the third country to set up a separate judiciary for environmental cases, after Australia and New Zealand.

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PBS Kids to Launch New Web-Based Series About Sustainability

October 19th, 2010

The Story of Stuff’s founder teams up with PBS KIDS to launch a new web-based series about sustainability. The goal is that as kids look at objects and activities in their daily life, they will begin asking: Where does it come from? What is it made of? What happens to it when it’s thrown away?

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Underwater Robot to Explore Antarctic Ice Shelf

October 19th, 2010

Ice shelves are floating platforms of ice that cover almost half of Antarctica’s coastline. Until recently, scientists have had limited ability to access ice-covered waters, and the research team’s use of a high-tech robot aims to change that.

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Protection of Coastal Marine Ecosystems in Sub-Saharan Africa

October 15th, 2010

East Africa’s increasing poverty may call upon adopting different conservation strategies to western models and approaches, in order to integrate efficient coastal management without, inadvertently, alienating Africa’s own people.

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Ten Things Kids Want Us to Know About Trash on Beaches and Oceans

October 12th, 2010

Fourth-graders in New York City conducted cleanups at a local beach and tallied every item they found on Ocean Conservancy’s data card, an experience shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

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Call to Heal World’s Reefs

October 10th, 2010

There is still time to save the world’s ailing coral reefs, if prompt and decisive action can be taken to improve their overall health, leading marine researchers said, in a major scientific symposium in Canberra, October 7th and 8th.

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