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

How to shift public attitudes and win the global climate battle

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

News, Sand Mining
Oct
28

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

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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Climate change, rising sea levels a threat to farmers in Bangladesh

Rising sea levels driven by climate change make for salty soil, and that is likely to force about 200,000 coastal farmers in Bangladesh inland as glaciers melt into the world’s oceans, according to estimates from a new study from The Ohio State University.

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Climate Change 101 – Glenn Loury & Patrick T. Brown, Video

A youtube video featuring Glenn Loury (Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University) and Patrick T. Brown (Stanford University).

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Remote Hawaiian Island Wiped Off The Map

East Island was destroyed by storm surge from Hurricane Walaka, which roared through the northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a powerful Category 3 storm this month. “This event is confronting us with what the future could look like,” one federal scientist said about the loss of East Island.

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Florida’s coral reefs provide window into the past

The Florida Keys coral reefs stopped growing or significantly slowed their growth at least 3000 years ago and have been balanced between persistence and erosion ever since, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Dolphins are simplifying their calls to be heard over shipping noise

News, Pollution
Oct
24

The world’s oceans are getting noisier, humming with the near-constant sounds of ship engines, seafloor mining, and oil and gas exploration. Now, a new study has found that dolphins are being forced to simplify their calls in order to be heard over the noise.

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Sierra Leone: Beaches under attack from sand miners

News, Sand Mining
Oct
23

Twenty-four hours a day, seven-days-a-week, truckloads of sand are being hauled from the beach into Freetown to satisfy the needs of construction companies and contractors. Hundreds of tonnes of sand from the beaches is mined and sold to builders as construction material. The activity is technically illegal but laws, as is often the case, are not being implemented or enforced.

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Recent / Inform

Remote Hawaiian Island Wiped Off The Map

October 25th, 2018

East Island was destroyed by storm surge from Hurricane Walaka, which roared through the northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a powerful Category 3 storm this month. “This event is confronting us with what the future could look like,” one federal scientist said about the loss of East Island.

Read More

Florida’s coral reefs provide window into the past

October 24th, 2018

The Florida Keys coral reefs stopped growing or significantly slowed their growth at least 3000 years ago and have been balanced between persistence and erosion ever since, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Read More

Dolphins are simplifying their calls to be heard over shipping noise

October 24th, 2018

The world’s oceans are getting noisier, humming with the near-constant sounds of ship engines, seafloor mining, and oil and gas exploration. Now, a new study has found that dolphins are being forced to simplify their calls in order to be heard over the noise.

Read More

Sierra Leone: Beaches under attack from sand miners

October 23rd, 2018

Twenty-four hours a day, seven-days-a-week, truckloads of sand are being hauled from the beach into Freetown to satisfy the needs of construction companies and contractors. Hundreds of tonnes of sand from the beaches is mined and sold to builders as construction material. The activity is technically illegal but laws, as is often the case, are not being implemented or enforced.

Read More

Sockeye carcasses tossed on shore over two decades spur tree growth

October 23rd, 2018

In a 20-year study, researchers have found that nearly 600,000 pounds of sockeye salmon carcasses tossed to the left side of a small, remote stream in southwest Alaska, helped trees on that side of the stream grow faster than their counterparts on the other side.

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How microplastics, marine aggregates and marine animals are connected

October 23rd, 2018

Prior research has suggested that mussels are a robust indicator of plastic debris and particles in marine environments. A new study says that’s not the case because mussels are picky eaters and have an inherent ability to choose and sort their food. Instead, the researchers have discovered that marine aggregates also called ”marine snow,” play a much bigger role in the fate of the oceans when it comes to plastic debris.

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“We are at war”: Expect almost 5 feet of sea level rise when planning for the future, leaders say

October 22nd, 2018

Building a road, a school, a bridge in Hampton Roads? Think about how long you want it to be around, and whether it might be underwater by then. That’s what regional planners recommend in light of sea levels projected to rise nearly 5 feet over the next century.

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A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

October 22nd, 2018

An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004.

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Beaches of Saint-Tropez hit by Mediterranean oil spill

October 21st, 2018

A containership and a ferry collided off the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea, causing a three-mile long spill of heavy fuel, with French and Italian coastal authorities scrambling to contain it. The mayor of the village of Ramatuelle, which lies on the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, told AFP that 16 kilometres (10 miles) of coastline had been affected by the spill.

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Salty water causes some freshwater harmful algae to release toxins

October 20th, 2018

The finding suggests that understanding the mixing of fresh and salt water, which takes place in many coastal water bodies around the world, will help researchers understand the toxic effects of these harmful algal blooms.

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