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

New US offshore oil leasing plan includes Arctic

News, Pollution
Nov
9

The Obama administration proposed a new plan for offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, including the environmentally sensitive Arctic.

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Coastal Vegetation Could Blunt Tsunami’s Deadly Impact

A study estimates that the death toll of the devastating 2004 tsunami along Indonesia’s West Aceh coast would have been smaller had there been enough coastal vegetation to dull the blow and shield the coastal settlements from the shoreline.

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Building Schools And Houses Out Of Plastic Trash

“How can we change the world? It starts with the kids…”

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Flash Forward 100 Years: Climate Change Scenarios in California’s Bay-Delta

Scientists investigated how California’s interconnected San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (the Bay-Delta system) is expected to change from 2010 to 2099 in response to both fast and moderate climate warming scenarios. Results indicate that this area will feel impacts of global climate change in the next century with shifts in its biological communities, rising sea level, and modified water supplies.

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Decline in Dead Zones: Efforts to Heal Chesapeake Bay Are Working

Although climatic factors and sea level rise are influencing hypoxia, efforts to reduce the flow of fertilizers, animal waste and other pollutants into the Chesapeake Bay, appear to be giving a boost to the bay’s health, a new study that analyzed 60 years of water quality data has concluded.

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Birth of an Iceberg

While satellites have tracked the formation of new icebergs, this is the first detailed airborne survey of such an event.

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The 42-nation Association of Small Island States Slam Slow Pace Of Climate Talks

Island states facing rising seas driven by global warming slammed on Thursday suggestions by some rich nations that a comprehensive climate deal can wait until 2018 or later. Such proposals are “both environmentally reckless and politically irresponsible…”

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Biggest Jump Ever Seen In Global Warming Gases

The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

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New Charges As Storm Threatens Stranded N.Z. Ship

News, Pollution
Nov
2

Officers from Rena, the cargo ship stranded on a New Zealand reef for nearly a month now, faced new charges Wednesday amid ongoing fears the vessel could break up, leaking more oil and worsening the environmental disaster.

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Recent / Inform

Palau, at risk from rising seas, aims to drill for oil

September 29th, 2010

Many island nations around the world are looking for creative solutions to a pending crisis, predicted boosts in sea level, associated with climate change. Analysts though, question why the World Bank is helping Palau develop fossil fuel resources when the island’s very existence is threatened by the burning of them.

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Savagery without Borders: Whaling: When the sands turns from white to blood red in the bays

September 29th, 2010

Japanese police have launched a probe after nets on holding pens for dolphins in the coastal town of Taiji were cut during an annual hunt.

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New Plan to Save Mediterranean Ecosystem

September 29th, 2010

The Mediterranean Basin is home to nearly half a billion people and visited by more than 220 million tourists each year. The Plan covers 34 countries with numerous different languages, alphabets, cultures and religions.

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Experiencing an International Coastal Clean-up Day

September 25th, 2010

Inspiration is often truly found in the most subtle and inconspicuous ways…

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The Louder the Reef, the Better Its Health

September 25th, 2010

This finding could change the way scientists monitor reefs.

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Italy Bans the Plastic Water Bottle Along Heritage Coastline

September 24th, 2010

The worst month is August, when an average of 400,000 plastic bottles are discarded along the narrow strip of picturesque World Heritage coast, which lies south of Genoa in the province of Liguria.

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European Coastal Nations to Create Marine Protected Areas and Review Offshore Drilling

September 24th, 2010

European coastal nations agreed today in Oslo, to review rules for offshore drilling – but each country should decide individually – and to create six protected marine areas in the northeast Atlantic.

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Dirty secrets at Britain’s Blue-Flagged Beaches

September 21st, 2010

At least one in four of Britain’s premier bathing beaches are failing to meet the strict requirements of their “Blue Flag” designation, an international standard that is only granted if beach operators meet more than 30 strict criteria.

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Revealed: Our Contaminated Beaches, Scotland

September 21st, 2010

As Fraserburgh, Scotland, is getting ready for its UK Surf contest- expected to be “epic” due to Igor aftermath’s swell on European coasts- reports found sewage pollution has not spared many popular scottish beaches.

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Shipwrecks and Vanishing Coastlines: a Nigerian Predicament

September 20th, 2010

The ocean is advancing menacingly towards populated areas, surge that caused severe erosion, which occurred as a result of shipwrecks and uncontrolled development of the coastlines, involving poorly done sand filling.

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