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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

Japan confirms it will quit IWC to resume commercial whaling

Japan is facing international condemnation after confirming it will resuming commercial whaling for the first time in more than 30 years.

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The Marshall Islands: A nation that fears it’s on the brink of extinction

In a battle between man and nature, officials say climate change is threatening the islands’ existence. The most extreme predictions say that rising sea levels could make the nation uninhabitable as soon as 2030.

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As Polar Bear Attacks Increase in Warming Arctic, a Search for Solutions

With sea ice reduced, polar bears in the Arctic are spending more time on land, leading to increased attacks on people. Concerned Inuit communities want to increase hunting quotas, but researchers are testing new technologies they hope will reduce these often deadly confrontations.

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Loss of intertidal ecosystem exposes coastal communities

south california coastal erosion

Artificial intelligence and extensive satellite imagery have allowed researchers to map the world’s intertidal zones for the first time, revealing a significant loss of the crucial ecosystem. The study has shown that global foreshore environments declined by up to 16 percent between 1984 and 2016.

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Why is sea level rising faster in some places along the US East Coast than others?

Sea levels are rising globally from ocean warming and melting of land ice, but the seas aren’t rising at the same rate everywhere. Sea levels have risen significantly faster in some U.S. East Coast regions compared to others.

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The 25 Best Caribbean Beaches to Visit in 2019

Celebrate, Inform
Dec
19

Every journey starts with inspiration, and it always comes from that daydream of an afternoon spent on a beautiful shoreline, a moment of waves and palms and perfect sand. And while the Caribbean is unquestionably home to the most beautiful collection of beaches anywhere on earth, it’s also a remarkably diverse one,

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After Major Hurricanes, Communities Are Building Back Bigger, Not Smarter

ortley-beach-nj-2

In the aftermath of major coastal storms, the mantra to “build back better” is often touted repeatedly in rebuilding strategies, with promises to construct resilient houses more capable of surviving the next storm. But a new study of five American coastal communities finds that homes are actually being built back bigger, not better, after catastrophic weather events, dwarfing the structures that were lost…

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The full story on climate change requires the long view

Researchers offer a new calculation that provides the long view of what nine different world regions have contributed to climate change since 1900. They also show how that breakdown will likely look by 2100 under various emission scenarios.

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Cleaning up the plastic in the ocean

News, Pollution
Dec
17

Discarded plastic is piling up around the world and pooling in the ocean. Sharyn Alfonsi reports on the problem’s deadly consequences for wildlife and what can be done to stop it

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Recent / Inform

The 25 Best Caribbean Beaches to Visit in 2019

December 19th, 2018

Every journey starts with inspiration, and it always comes from that daydream of an afternoon spent on a beautiful shoreline, a moment of waves and palms and perfect sand. And while the Caribbean is unquestionably home to the most beautiful collection of beaches anywhere on earth, it’s also a remarkably diverse one,

Read More

After Major Hurricanes, Communities Are Building Back Bigger, Not Smarter

ortley-beach-nj-2

December 19th, 2018

In the aftermath of major coastal storms, the mantra to “build back better” is often touted repeatedly in rebuilding strategies, with promises to construct resilient houses more capable of surviving the next storm. But a new study of five American coastal communities finds that homes are actually being built back bigger, not better, after catastrophic weather events, dwarfing the structures that were lost…

Read More

The full story on climate change requires the long view

December 18th, 2018

Researchers offer a new calculation that provides the long view of what nine different world regions have contributed to climate change since 1900. They also show how that breakdown will likely look by 2100 under various emission scenarios.

Read More

Cleaning up the plastic in the ocean

December 17th, 2018

Discarded plastic is piling up around the world and pooling in the ocean. Sharyn Alfonsi reports on the problem’s deadly consequences for wildlife and what can be done to stop it

Read More

Fifty years of decline in Queensland’s coastal sharks

December 14th, 2018

Queensland’s coastal shark numbers are continuing a 50-year decline, in sharp contradiction of suggestions of ‘exploding’ shark populations, according to a new analysis.

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10 must-visit beaches in the Caribbean

December 13th, 2018

Some of the following beaches made the list because they’re simply picture-perfect – like stepping into an Instagram shot. Others made the cut for the best Caribbean beaches because they have special features that make them unforgettable.

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Humans may be reversing the climate clock, by 50 million years

December 10th, 2018

Our future on Earth may also be our past. Researchers show that humans are reversing a long-term cooling trend tracing back at least 50 million years. And it’s taken just two centuries.

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New Rules Ahead For Building Near Inlets, NC

December 10th, 2018

New boundaries and rules governing development at about half of North Carolina’s inlets may be adopted next year.

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Gambian environmental activists take swift Action against Chinese plant polluting their ocean water

December 9th, 2018

After activists said a Chinese-run fish processing plant – that arrived in 2014 – had failed to remove a pipe accused of spewing toxic waste into the sea, local youth issued an ultimatum: Dig the pipe up, or we will. They did, storming the beach.

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Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds all around the world

December 9th, 2018

Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds like penguins and terns by competing for the same prey sources. Seabirds are now the most threatened bird group.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
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