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

Congress Must Vote to Protect America’s Coasts, Oceans, and Marine Life from Offshore Drilling – NRDC

It is important our elected officials act now to protect our coast. The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on two bills that would permanently protect coastal communities across America from the dangers of reckless offshore oil and gas drilling and costly oil spills.

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Great Barrier Reef health outlook downgraded to “very poor” due to ocean warming

The government agency that manages Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has downgraded its outlook for the corals’ condition from “poor” to “very poor” due to warming oceans.

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Judge blocks exclusive, gated community from putting tons of rocks on public beach

Residents of an exclusive gated community who want to put tons of boulders on a public beach lost a court battle this week. This ruling comes as battles simmer in South Carolina over how to deal with the effects of global warming and rising sea levels.

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Indonesia will build its new capital city in Borneo as Jakarta sinks into the Java Sea

Concerns over the sustainability of the congested and rapidly sinking political center of Jakarta prompted the need for a new capital. The relocation was announced Monday by President Joko Widodo.

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A giant pumice stone floating in the Pacific could help heal Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

great-barrier-reef

A pumice “raft” the size of Manhattan is drifting towards Australia, bringing along with it new marine life that could help with the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef’s corals, half of which have been killed in recent years as a result of climate change.

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Native Americans may lose their homes to rising waters on Louisiana island

Rising waters are swallowing up Native Americans on a small island off the Louisiana coast, making them some of America’s first climate refugees

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French couple faces prison time after being caught with 90 pounds of sand from Sardinia

News, Sand Mining
Aug
19

A French couple is facing years of jail time after stealing almost 90 pounds of sand from Sardinia, the Italian island known for its picturesque beaches.

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When lightning strikes the beach, it vaporizes the sand ⁠— and makes these glass tubes

Nihiwatu Beach, Sumba, Indonesia

When lightning strikes the beach or desert, the electricity vaporizes the sand in less than a second, creating a geological phenomenon you might have to see to believe.

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Seldom Seen: A Poignant Look Back at Glen Canyon Before the Dam

Dam, Erosion, Inform
Aug
16

Ken Sleight remembers the stunning beauty of Glen Canyon before it was flooded by a massive dam in the 1960s. Taylor Graham’s film “Seldom Seen Sleight” – winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest – shows the magnificent landscape lost and offers hope it might someday be restored.

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Recent / Inform

A giant pumice stone floating in the Pacific could help heal Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

great-barrier-reef

August 25th, 2019

A pumice “raft” the size of Manhattan is drifting towards Australia, bringing along with it new marine life that could help with the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef’s corals, half of which have been killed in recent years as a result of climate change.

Read More

Native Americans may lose their homes to rising waters on Louisiana island

August 23rd, 2019

Rising waters are swallowing up Native Americans on a small island off the Louisiana coast, making them some of America’s first climate refugees

Read More

French couple faces prison time after being caught with 90 pounds of sand from Sardinia

August 19th, 2019

A French couple is facing years of jail time after stealing almost 90 pounds of sand from Sardinia, the Italian island known for its picturesque beaches.

Read More

When lightning strikes the beach, it vaporizes the sand ⁠— and makes these glass tubes

Nihiwatu Beach, Sumba, Indonesia

August 17th, 2019

When lightning strikes the beach or desert, the electricity vaporizes the sand in less than a second, creating a geological phenomenon you might have to see to believe.

Read More

Seldom Seen: A Poignant Look Back at Glen Canyon Before the Dam

August 16th, 2019

Ken Sleight remembers the stunning beauty of Glen Canyon before it was flooded by a massive dam in the 1960s. Taylor Graham’s film “Seldom Seen Sleight” – winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest – shows the magnificent landscape lost and offers hope it might someday be restored.

Read More

It’s raining plastic: microscopic fibers fall from the sky in Rocky Mountains

August 14th, 2019

Discovery raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth

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Who will pay for the huge costs of holding back rising seas?

August 10th, 2019

U.S. coastal cities face billions of dollars in costs for the extensive infrastructure projects needed to protect against rising seas and worsening storms. From Boston to Miami, government officials are only beginning to grasp the enormous expense of what will be required.

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More than half of U.S. beaches have fecal bacteria, environmentalists say

August 9th, 2019

Half the beaches in the U.S. have at least one day per summer season in which it’s not safe to swim because of elevated bacteria levels in the water, according to new report.

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Disposable plastic water bottles banned from San Francisco airport

August 8th, 2019

In an effort to make SFO more environmentally friendly, the airport is adding plastic water bottles to its list of restricted food service items starting August 20. The airport, just south of San Francisco, set a goal three years ago of becoming the world’s first zero-waste airport by 2021.

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Your favorite pristine beach is founded on mass invertebrate death

August 7th, 2019

Beach managers import sand and constantly groom shores with heavy machinery, and a recent study in the journal Ecological Indicators shows these managed beaches have much fewer sand-dwelling critters than nearby natural ones.

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