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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

Jetties Blamed For Beach Erosion, Montauk NY

The next winter storm is threatening to wash away beach-side homes in Montauk. Concerned residents, however, are not blaming Mother Nature, but rather jetties built by the Army Corps of Engineers about 20 years ago.

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Raised Awareness on Illegal Sand Mining, St Kitts

News, Sand Mining
Feb
13

Illegal sand mining across St. Kitts, has become more pronounced with the boom in the construction industry. As a result, several problems have arisen and it became necessary, as a means of deterrence, to educate the general public on the negative effects of the unlawful activity.

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Whole coastline of Namibia is designated a national park

News, Sand Mining
Feb
11

Namibia has become what is thought to be the first country to designate its entire coastline a national park. Namibia designates its entire 976-mile coastline a national park, consolidating several existing preserves into the 26.6 million-acre Namib-Skeleton Coast National Park.

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Artist and scientist make a natural pair: united, they are an educational force

World-renowned coastal geologist Orrin H. Pilkey and artist Mary Edna Fraser, an internationally recognized master of the textile art of batik, bring an understanding of coastal geology and global change to the public in a way that is scientifically astute and visually intriguing.

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Dirty Secrets Behind Jeans: China blighted by industrial pollution

Pollution
Feb
10

A Greenpeace report has called on the Chinese textile industry to clean up its processes after finding high levels of pollution in the southern industrial towns of Xintang the “jeans capital of the world” and Gurao.Toxic runoff from China’s textile industry has made its way into rivers and other waterways. Many are now heavily polluted with chemicals used for dying, printing, bleaching and washing.

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North Australia set to face more weather extremes, corals show

Like pages in a book, near shore corals can help scientists go back in time by revealing years that were unusually wet or dry, and are providing another piece of evidence that maybe suggests that we are seeing some consequences already of global warming.

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Singapore Extends Its Coastlines With Illegally Dredged Sand

Singapore, one of the world’s most prosperous and fastest growing economies, is being accused of expanding its coastline with illegally dredged sand from neighboring states.

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UK’s Prince Charles blasts climate-change skeptics

Many doubters have dismissed scientific evidence supporting warming of the earth due to human activity, arguing that the large majority of scientists are wrong, or the consequences of warming overstated.

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Drilling May Kill Mediterranean Ecosystem: WWF

The recently discovered Leviathan gas field, 135 kilometres off the Israeli coast, is the world’s biggest gas discovery in a decade, with an estimated volume of 16 trillion cubic feet of gas. Earlier this year, the West Nile Delta gas field was discovered as well, lying in Egyptian waters only 80 kilometres off Alexandria.

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