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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

Proximity to land determines how coral reef communities respond to climate change events

Severe weather and environmental disturbances, such as cyclones or thermal coral bleaching, affect specific areas of coral reefs differently, new research has shown.

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Island of garbage: the all-female voyage to battle Earth’s plastic crisis

Inform, Pollution
Feb
23

Although inhabited and remote, South Sentinel island is covered with marine debris, mostly plastic. South Sentinel, Andaman Islands, Bay of Bengal. Captions and Photo: © SAF — Coastal Care Excerpts; Plastic is everywhere, and it’s not going anywhere – potentially posing serious risks to our health. A crew of scientists and activists is conducting a […]

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Private companies can no longer mine beaches in India

News, Sand Mining
Feb
21

Private beach sand miners can no longer mine the coasts of India, as per a Gazette notification by the Union Ministry of Mines which has just been made public.

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How coral bleaching threatens Caribbean communities

A new study uses environmental, socioeconomic and management data from 30 Caribbean islands to identify which communities may be most at risk from the social and ecological effects of coral bleaching, which occurs when warm water causes coral polyps to expel algae living in their tissue.

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The Real Price of a Chocolate Bar: West Africa’s Rainforests

Ivory Coast has lost more than 80 percent of its forests in the last 50 years, mainly to cocoa production. The government has a plan to turn over management of former forest to international chocolate manufacturers: Is it a conservation strategy or a land grab?.

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Sand mining in a dune system, Chile

News, Sand Mining
Feb
19

This is a normal situation here in this side of the world: when the legal go beyond the logic…

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Vecino de Bocagrande ‘surfea’ en plena calle inundada por lluvia

“Our national government will invest 51 million us dollars to solve this with…. hard structures!”…

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Florida is drowning. Condos are still being built. Can’t humans see the writing on the wall?

People tend to respond to immediate threats and financial consequences – and Florida’s coastal real estate may be on the cusp of delivering that harsh wake-up call.

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US coastal businesses hit by everyday impact of climate change, study shows

Annapolis seeing sea rise at about twice the global rate. Flooding there foreshadows problems other coastal towns can expect.

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Recent / Inform

Vecino de Bocagrande ‘surfea’ en plena calle inundada por lluvia

February 18th, 2019

“Our national government will invest 51 million us dollars to solve this with…. hard structures!”…

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Florida is drowning. Condos are still being built. Can’t humans see the writing on the wall?

February 17th, 2019

People tend to respond to immediate threats and financial consequences – and Florida’s coastal real estate may be on the cusp of delivering that harsh wake-up call.

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US coastal businesses hit by everyday impact of climate change, study shows

February 16th, 2019

Annapolis seeing sea rise at about twice the global rate. Flooding there foreshadows problems other coastal towns can expect.

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Rapa Nui’s Stone Statues and Marine Resources Face Threats from Climate Change

February 14th, 2019

On this island in the Polynesia region of the Pacific Ocean, 3,800 kilometers from the coast of Chile, to which it belongs, the effects of climate change are already evident.

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Ecosystem changes following loss of great white sharks

February 14th, 2019

A new study has documented unexpected consequences following the decline of great white sharks from an area off South Africa. The study found that the disappearance of great whites has led to the emergence of sevengill sharks, a top predator from a different habitat.

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Great Barrier Reef hit by ‘extraordinarily large’ muddy flood plume

great-barrier-reef

February 14th, 2019

Massive plumes of polluted floodwater spanning the entire coast of north-east Queensland are encroaching on the outer reaches of the Great Barrier Reef, sparking a fresh threat to the beleaguered natural wonder.

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Sand from glacial melt could be Greenland’s economic salvation?

February 12th, 2019

As climate change melts Greenland’s glaciers and deposits more river sediment on its shores, an international group of researchers has identified one unforeseen economic opportunity for the Arctic nation: exporting excess sand and gravel abroad, where raw materials for infrastructure are in high demand.

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Myanmar: “Our land is collapsing around us”: population and environment at risk from rampant sand mining

February 11th, 2019

Irresponsible sand mining in the Ayeyarwady River is destroying the livelihoods of farmers and fishers and placing environmental stress on the nation’s rice bowl.

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Key West bans some sunscreens to protect coral reefs

February 10th, 2019

Officials in Key West ave decided to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, blamed for harming the only living coral reef found in the continental US.

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The hidden environmental toll of mining the World’s sand

February 9th, 2019

Sand mining is the world’s largest mining endeavor, responsible for 85 percent of all mineral extraction. It is also the least regulated, and quite possibly the most corrupt and environmentally destructive.

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