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

A river of rubbish: the ugly secret threatening China’s most beautiful city

Inform, Pollution
Mar
24

Despite Beijing’s increased transparency with air pollution, water pollution remains a taboo in China. Prominent environmentalists have been charged with espionage for speaking out about the situation. Greenpeace China told the Guardian that one third of the country’s rivers are contaminated.

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Record-Low Ice Confirmed at North and South Poles

Sea ice at Earth’s poles is dwindling, and it reached record lows this month, scientists report.

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Dead zones may threaten coral reefs worldwide

Dead zones affect dozens of coral reefs around the world and threaten hundreds more according to a new study. Watching a massive coral reef die-off on the Caribbean coast of Panama, they suspected it was caused by a dead zone – a low-oxygen area that snuffs out marine life – rather than by ocean warming or acidification.

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Support pours in for woman journalist being harassed by sand mining mafia, India

News, Sand Mining
Mar
23

Students, IT professionals and activists have pledged to stand by independent journalist Sandhya Ravishankar who is under attack for writing a series of articles on alleged illegal beach sand mining

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Ganges and Yamuna rivers granted same legal rights as human beings

News, Pollution
Mar
21

A court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand ordered on Monday that the Ganges and its main tributary, the Yamuna, be accorded the status of living human entities.

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From entanglement to invasions of alien species: the harm caused by marine litter

Inform, Pollution
Mar
20

Marine litter is a threat to the marine ecosystem, human health and economic activities. A new European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) report sheds light on the many effects of litter in our oceans, and highlights the severity and scale of the issue. The report confirms that plastic items have the highest direct and indirect damaging impact.

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Atlantic City and Miami Beach: two takes on tackling the rising waters

Sea level rise is making floods more common and as the New Jersey resort braces for the next Sandy, the well-heeled Florida city is throwing money at the problem

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This Journalist Is Going Through Hell For Exposing Illegal Beach Sand Mining In Tamil Nadu

News, Sand Mining
Mar
19

All hell has broken loose since journalist Ravishankar published a four-part series on illegal beach sand mining along the Tamil Nadu coast…

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Venice Fights Back

The world’s most beautiful city has never been more threatened. But a passionate movement of locals is determined to keep it alive.

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Recent / Inform

Atlantic City and Miami Beach: two takes on tackling the rising waters

March 20th, 2017

Sea level rise is making floods more common and as the New Jersey resort braces for the next Sandy, the well-heeled Florida city is throwing money at the problem

Read More

This Journalist Is Going Through Hell For Exposing Illegal Beach Sand Mining In Tamil Nadu

March 19th, 2017

All hell has broken loose since journalist Ravishankar published a four-part series on illegal beach sand mining along the Tamil Nadu coast…

Read More

Venice Fights Back

March 18th, 2017

The world’s most beautiful city has never been more threatened. But a passionate movement of locals is determined to keep it alive.

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Rare emeralds discovered in 400-year-old shipwreck set to fetch millions

March 17th, 2017

On April 25, the public will have the opportunity to own some of the most magnificent and valuable emeralds in the world, retrieved from the great Spanish shipwreck Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a galleon that sank off the Florida coast in 1622.

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Calif. City Tries Shifting Sands Amid Disappearing Beaches

March 17th, 2017

Today, with sea level rise and erosion threatening to eat away at the sandy expanses and damage city infrastructure, Santa Monica is testing a softer intervention. In a partnership with the nonprofit Bay Foundation, 3 acres of the beach’s north end have been seeded with native California dune plants.

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Increase in extreme sea levels could endanger European coastal communities

March 17th, 2017

Massive coastal flooding in northern Europe that now occurs once every century could happen every year if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, according to a new study.

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A Threat by Any Other Name

March 17th, 2017

According to research by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 70 percent of Americans believed in March 2016 that global warming was happening. But on virtually every question about the causes, effects, and mitigation of climate change, we are widely divided along partisan lines. The word planners are using, more and more, is resilience. Once seen as a kind of stopgap strategy, resilience has become the modus operandi of climate planning.

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Ship crashes into ‘pristine’ coral reef, captain may be charged

March 16th, 2017

The captain of a cruise ship could be charged after his boat rammed into a pristine coral reef. The 297-foot (90.6 meter) MS Caledonian Sky crashed into the reefs at Raja Ampat on March 4. Raja Ampat is frequently included on lists of the the world’s most beautiful coral reefs and is often described as an “untouched” beach paradise.

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Whanganui River the first in the world to be given legal status as a person, NZ

March 16th, 2017

New Zealand’s Whanganui River now has the legal status of a person under a unique Treaty settlement passed into law today. It’s believed to be a world first.

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War on global warming only way to save world’s coral, study says

March 16th, 2017

Reducing pollution and curbing overfishing won’t prevent the severe bleaching that is killing coral at catastrophic rates, according to a study of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. In the end, researchers say, the only way to save the world’s coral from heat-induced bleaching is with a war on global warming.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
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