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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

Malibu, CA: Broad Beach Sand Project Costs Jump to $55-60 Million Per Decade

The Broad Beach Geologic Hazard Abatement District (GHAD) is now contending with another set of lawsuits over a project originally estimated to cost about $20 million, which is now estimated to cost $55 to $60 million every 10 years. The project will involve bringing in megatons of sand every few years to restore the disappearing beach and dunes.

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How aquaculture is threatening the native fish species of Africa

Africa has long looked to fish farming to help feed its burgeoning human population. But scientists are warning that a new aquaculture push is introducing invasive species that could devastate natural ecosystems.

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How cities are defending themselves against sea level rise

Superstorm Sandy and a series of lesser coastal storms since that 2012 disaster compelled some coastal communities to defend themselves by elevating homes and critical infrastructure, building sand dunes, widening beaches and erecting or raising sea walls. But as sea levels continue to rise around the world, that’s not an option in large cities.

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In the Trump era, rising seas still a concern for Defense Department

Climate scientists in the federal government have been on the defensive since President Donald Trump took office in January. But military leaders will continue to address the risks that climate change poses to bases and national security, a senior Pentagon official said at conference Friday on sea level rise.

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The Quick Demise of B-44

Scientists have long been tracking the retreat of Pine Island Glacier, one of the main outlets where ice from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet flows into the ocean. Attention recently turned once again to the glacier when it calved a large new iceberg, named B-44. Just weeks later, the berg has broken apart.

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The breach at Fire Island National Seashore, Video

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy opened up a new inlet on Fire Island National Seashore. A video, showing how this storm-formed inlet has transformed water quality in the estuary.

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Waiting for the tide to turn: Kiribati’s fight for survival

The 33 islands of Kiribati, a remote and low-lying nation in the Pacific Ocean, are under threat from climate change. But the islanders have not given up hope

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The only answer to rising seas is to retreat; By Orrin H. Pilkey & Keith C. Pilkey

Except for the timing, there is no controversy among scientists regarding sea level rise. Defending the coast and holding the shoreline in place ultimately will be futile. With a three-foot or a six-foot sea level rise, we will retreat, probably beginning within the next 50 years.

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Taste, not appearance, drives corals to eat plastics

News, Pollution
Oct
26

Scientists have long known that marine animals mistakenly eat plastic debris because the tiny bits of floating plastic might look like prey. But a new Duke University study of plastic ingestion by corals suggests there may be an additional reason for the potentially harmful behavior.

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Recent / Inform

Waiting for the tide to turn: Kiribati’s fight for survival

October 27th, 2017

The 33 islands of Kiribati, a remote and low-lying nation in the Pacific Ocean, are under threat from climate change. But the islanders have not given up hope

Read More

The only answer to rising seas is to retreat; By Orrin H. Pilkey & Keith C. Pilkey

October 27th, 2017

Except for the timing, there is no controversy among scientists regarding sea level rise. Defending the coast and holding the shoreline in place ultimately will be futile. With a three-foot or a six-foot sea level rise, we will retreat, probably beginning within the next 50 years.

Read More

Taste, not appearance, drives corals to eat plastics

October 26th, 2017

Scientists have long known that marine animals mistakenly eat plastic debris because the tiny bits of floating plastic might look like prey. But a new Duke University study of plastic ingestion by corals suggests there may be an additional reason for the potentially harmful behavior.

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Once-pristine Arctic choking on our plastic addiction

October 26th, 2017

Earlier this year a global team of scientists sounded another alarm, revealing what they called the next major threat to the polar bears’ Arctic habitat: plastic.

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Sea levels to rise 1.3m unless coal power ends by 2050, report says

October 26th, 2017

Coastal cities around the world could be devastated by 1.3m of sea level rise this century unless coal-generated electricity is virtually eliminated by 2050, according to a University of Melbourne new paper that combines the latest understanding of Antarctica’s contribution to sea level rise and the latest emissions projection scenarios.

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6 fascinating facts about coral reefs

October 26th, 2017

Coral reefs are one of the world’s most colorful and diverse ecosystems, and though they cover only about 1 percent of the ocean floor, they have a huge effect on the health of the rest of the world. Healthy coral reefs mean healthy oceans which means healthy planet.

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Rising seas threaten nearly $1 trillion worth of US homes, and most of them are moderately priced

October 25th, 2017

If sea levels were to rise 6 feet, 1.9 million homes, or $916 billion worth of U.S. residential real estate, could be lost, according to a new report.

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Microplastics in the Baltic have not risen for 30 years

October 25th, 2017

The concentration of microplastics in water and fish from the Baltic Sea has been constant for the past 30 years, despite a substantial increase in plastic production during the same period, report investigators.

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Replacing Miami’s beach sands costs millions. Here’s how Congress intends to make it cheaper

October 24th, 2017

Miami is out of sand. Last year, Miami-Dade County depleted its offshore sand reserves, meaning miles of beaches that shrink from erosion must be replenished with sand from outside South Florida.

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Drones used to map climate change in Zanzibar

October 24th, 2017

In Zanzibar, which is a series of islands off the east coast of Africa, a group is using drones to map the effects of rising sea levels and global temperatures in an effort to combat local climate change.

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