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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

New data platform illuminates history of humans’ environmental impact

Animal remains found at archaeological sites tell the millennia-long story of how humans have hunted, domesticated and transported wildlife, altered landscapes and responded to environmental changes such as shifting temperatures and sea levels.Now, that story is available digitally through a new open-access data platform which links records of animals across biological and archaeological databases

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Over 180 countries -not including the US– agree to restrict global plastic waste trade

News, Pollution
May
11

The governments of 187 countries have agreed to control the movement of plastic waste between national borders, in an effort to curb the world’s plastic crisis — but the United States was not among them.

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EU ‘outright dangerous’ in its use of natural resources, says WWF

Europe is using up natural resources so quickly that the planet’s ability to replenish itself over the year would be exhausted by this Friday if everyone consumed as much, a new analysis has found.

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Coastal recovery: bringing a damaged wetland back to life

An ambitious wetlands restoration project is underway on Delaware Bay, where scientists are using innovative methods to revive a badly damaged salt marsh. The project could be a model for other places seeking to make coastal wetlands more resilient to rising seas and worsening storms.

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Rising demand for sand calls for resource governance, UN

With the global demand for sand and gravel standing at 40 to 50 billion tonnes per year, a new report by UN Environment reveals that aggregate extraction in rivers has led to pollution, flooding, lowering of water aquifers and worsening drought occurrence.

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On Java’s Coast, A Natural Approach to Holding Back the Waters

The Indonesian island of Java has lost 70 percent of the mangroves that once protected its coast from erosion and flooding. Now villagers are using natural wooden barriers to try to restore the mangrove forests and save their lands and homes from being washed away.

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One million species at risk of extinction, UN report warns

The bonds that hold nature together may be at risk of unraveling from deforestation, overfishing, development, and other human activities, a landmark United Nations report warns. Thanks to human pressures, one million species may be pushed to extinction in the next few years, with serious consequences for human beings as well as the rest of life on Earth.

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5 Top Italian Art Cities Where You Can Also Go To The Beach

While you probably don’t head to Italy’s major art cities to go to the beach, with many of them you can. Here are coastal areas close to some of Italy’s top culture stops that are good for a seaside break after a morning of museum hopping when temperatures soar.

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What’s the future for Sri Lanka’s ‘lost’ population of whales?

Flocking tourists are making it less of a safe place for these stunning animals.

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Recent / Inform

Coastal recovery: bringing a damaged wetland back to life

May 9th, 2019

An ambitious wetlands restoration project is underway on Delaware Bay, where scientists are using innovative methods to revive a badly damaged salt marsh. The project could be a model for other places seeking to make coastal wetlands more resilient to rising seas and worsening storms.

Read More

Rising demand for sand calls for resource governance, UN

May 8th, 2019

With the global demand for sand and gravel standing at 40 to 50 billion tonnes per year, a new report by UN Environment reveals that aggregate extraction in rivers has led to pollution, flooding, lowering of water aquifers and worsening drought occurrence.

Read More

On Java’s Coast, A Natural Approach to Holding Back the Waters

May 7th, 2019

The Indonesian island of Java has lost 70 percent of the mangroves that once protected its coast from erosion and flooding. Now villagers are using natural wooden barriers to try to restore the mangrove forests and save their lands and homes from being washed away.

Read More

One million species at risk of extinction, UN report warns

May 6th, 2019

The bonds that hold nature together may be at risk of unraveling from deforestation, overfishing, development, and other human activities, a landmark United Nations report warns. Thanks to human pressures, one million species may be pushed to extinction in the next few years, with serious consequences for human beings as well as the rest of life on Earth.

Read More

5 Top Italian Art Cities Where You Can Also Go To The Beach

May 5th, 2019

While you probably don’t head to Italy’s major art cities to go to the beach, with many of them you can. Here are coastal areas close to some of Italy’s top culture stops that are good for a seaside break after a morning of museum hopping when temperatures soar.

Read More

What’s the future for Sri Lanka’s ‘lost’ population of whales?

May 4th, 2019

Flocking tourists are making it less of a safe place for these stunning animals.

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Seagrass’ strong potential for curbing erosion

May 3rd, 2019

A new study shows how seagrass can help to protect shorelines against erosion and help to mitigate damage from rising sea level, potentially providing useful guidance for seagrass restoration efforts.

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Tapping fresh water under the ocean has consequences

May 2nd, 2019

Coastal communities may consider using offshore groundwater resources as populations increase and the limited freshwater resources are degraded by overuse and pollution, but new research suggests tapping into them could lead to adverse impacts onshore.

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Indonesia plans to relocate its capital from Jakarta

April 29th, 2019

Indonesia plans to move its capital city from Jakarta, according to the country’s planning minister. Jakarta is home to more than 10 million people according to the United Nations, with an estimated 30 million in the greater metropolitan area. The nation is prone to flooding and is sinking at an alarming rate.

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El Niño and our beaches; By Gary Griggs

April 28th, 2019

Our beaches come and go seasonally in response to changing wave conditions. The larger and more energetic winter waves stir up the beach sand and carry it offshore, eroding the shoreline back. Six months or so later, the smaller and less energetic spring and summer waves gradually move that sand back onshore, building the beach just in time for all the summer visitors.

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