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

We made plastic. We depend on it. Now we’re drowning in it.

No one knows how much unrecycled plastic waste ends up in the ocean, Earth’s last sink.

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Decline in shorebirds linked to climate change, experts warn

Climate change could be responsible for a substantial decline in populations of shorebirds, say researchers from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, following a study published in Science analysing population data over a period of 70 years.

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Modern slavery promotes overfishing

Labour abuses, including modern slavery, are ‘hidden subsidies’ that allow distant-water fishing fleets to remain profitable and promote overfishing, new research from the University of Western Australia and the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia has found.

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Coastal property was once king. Fears of climate change are undermining its value

In a growing number of coastal communities, homes near the sea are appreciating more slowly than those inland. That’s bad news for people on the beach, good news for those farther away.

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Sighting of sperm whales in Arctic a sign of changing ecosystem, say scientists

A rare sighting of sperm whales in the Canadian Arctic is the latest sign of a quickly changing ecosystem, say scientists, as a growing number of species expand their range into warming Arctic waters.

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Hydropower, innovations and avoiding international dam shame

Dam, Erosion, Inform
Nov
5

The benefits of energy from dams no longer outweigh the social and environmental costs that damming up rivers brings about.

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Watching Out for Whales

The blue whale—the largest animal on Earth—measures on average 27 meters (89 feet) long. But its impressive size does not mean the species is safe in the sea. A national database for marine mammal health reported that collisions with ships killed 10 of the 12 blue whales found dead along the California coast between 2007-2017.

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Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds

Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.

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A running list of action on plastic pollution

coastal-clean-up
Inform, Pollution
Oct
30

The world has a plastic pollution problem and it’s snowballing—but so is public awareness and action. Each year, an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the world’s ocean from coastal regions. That’s about equivalent to five grocery bags of plastic trash piled up on every foot of coastline on the planet.

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Recent / Inform

Sighting of sperm whales in Arctic a sign of changing ecosystem, say scientists

November 5th, 2018

A rare sighting of sperm whales in the Canadian Arctic is the latest sign of a quickly changing ecosystem, say scientists, as a growing number of species expand their range into warming Arctic waters.

Read More

Hydropower, innovations and avoiding international dam shame

November 5th, 2018

The benefits of energy from dams no longer outweigh the social and environmental costs that damming up rivers brings about.

Read More

Watching Out for Whales

November 3rd, 2018

The blue whale—the largest animal on Earth—measures on average 27 meters (89 feet) long. But its impressive size does not mean the species is safe in the sea. A national database for marine mammal health reported that collisions with ships killed 10 of the 12 blue whales found dead along the California coast between 2007-2017.

Read More

Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds

October 31st, 2018

Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.

Read More

A running list of action on plastic pollution

coastal-clean-up

October 30th, 2018

The world has a plastic pollution problem and it’s snowballing—but so is public awareness and action. Each year, an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the world’s ocean from coastal regions. That’s about equivalent to five grocery bags of plastic trash piled up on every foot of coastline on the planet.

Read More

Australia joins Clean Seas and pledges to recycle or compost 70 per cent of all plastic packaging by 2025

October 30th, 2018

Australia becomes the latest country to join the movement to turn the tide on plastic, as Melissa Price, the country’s minister of the Environment, announces that the country is joining the Clean Seas campaign. Among other things, the country is pledging that 100 per cent of Australia’s packaging will be reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025, and 70 per cent will be recycled or composted by 2025.

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Free movement can protect humans from environmental threats

October 29th, 2018

Greater freedom of movement and investments in human rights and social opportunities can help protect humans from environmental threats like rising sea levels, new research says.

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How to shift public attitudes and win the global climate battle

October 28th, 2018

The world is making progress in decarbonizing economies, but not nearly fast enough, says the former U.S. chief climate negotiator. Here he spells out what forces must come together to marshal the public and political will needed to tackle climate change.

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China’s search for sand is destroying Mozambique’s pristine beaches

October 28th, 2018

The community of Nagonha in northern Mozambique sits on a tall dune with lush greenery on the one side, and a turquoise Indian ocean on the other. It should have been the kind of unspoiled landscape that Mozambique’s growing tourism industry is beginning to take advantage of. Instead, a Chinese mining company has irrevocably tarnished the scenery, and people’s lives.

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Climate change impact in Mediterranean region

October 27th, 2018

As the Mediterranean Basin is experiencing the impact of climate change more than ever, an international network of scientists has worked together to synthesize the effects of climate change and environmental problems, to facilitate decision-making in addressing the issues.

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