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

Only in Greenland: A beach for skiing and sledding

Inform
Jan
11

Sailing across the clear blue sea from the west coast of Greenland, a lush green island surrounded by dazzling white icebergs comes into view. Siorarsuit beach, which translated means “The Great Sand,” is a beach that’s particularly dramatic in the depths of winter, when a covering of snow makes skiing down to the water a real possibility.

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Ocean Acidification Changing Mussel Shell Structure

For thousands of years, California mussel shells have been made up of long, cylindrical calcite crystals organized in neat, vertical rows. But scientists have found that as ocean acidification has accelerated over the past 15 years, these shells have undergone dramatic structural changes, being built out of unorganized, uneven minerals instead.

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Monaco’s $2.3bn project to expand into Mediterranean Sea

Now construction has begun on a €2 billion ($2.3 billion) project to extend the natural contour of Monaco’s coastline a further 15 acres into the Mediterranean.

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Sanchi: Burning tanker off Chinese coast in danger of exploding

News, Pollution
Jan
8

There are fears of an environmental disaster in the East China Sea as a tanker continues leaking oil two days after colliding with a cargo ship.

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A year of the world’s best beaches

An interactive feature on CNN Travel.

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As Sea Levels Rise, is the Ocean Floor Sinking?

A team of researchers from Delft University and the University of Tasmania used estimates of mass redistribution concluded that past estimates of sea level rise are too conservative and that to increase their accuracy, the effect of ocean bottom deformation should be taken into account, either based on modeled estimates of ocean mass change, or using more direct observations.

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The window for saving the world’s coral reefs is rapidly closing

For the first time, an international team of researchers has measured the escalating rate of coral bleaching at locations throughout the tropics over the past four decades. The study documents a dramatic shortening of the gap between pairs of bleaching events, threatening the future existence of these iconic ecosystems and the livelihoods of many millions of people.

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Trump Spares NO Coast, Every State at Risk: A Call To Take Action, By NRDC

News, Pollution
Jan
5

Tell Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to keep our coasts permanently off-limits to oil and gas drilling!

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Trump Moves to Open Nearly All Offshore Waters to Drilling

The Trump administration said Thursday it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all United States coastal waters, giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard.

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Recent / Inform

The window for saving the world’s coral reefs is rapidly closing

January 5th, 2018

For the first time, an international team of researchers has measured the escalating rate of coral bleaching at locations throughout the tropics over the past four decades. The study documents a dramatic shortening of the gap between pairs of bleaching events, threatening the future existence of these iconic ecosystems and the livelihoods of many millions of people.

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Trump Spares NO Coast, Every State at Risk: A Call To Take Action, By NRDC

January 5th, 2018

Tell Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to keep our coasts permanently off-limits to oil and gas drilling!

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Trump Moves to Open Nearly All Offshore Waters to Drilling

January 4th, 2018

The Trump administration said Thursday it would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all United States coastal waters, giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard.

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These Birds Decorate Their Nests With Trash—Here’s Why

January 3rd, 2018

As scientists study the makeup of birds’ nests, they’re looking for signs of human influence.

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The Texas Coastline Is Slowly Disappearing. Here’s How One Community Is Coping

January 3rd, 2018

The Lone Star State’s shoreline is experiencing one of the highest rates of land loss of any coastal area in the country due to a combination of subsidence, sea level rise and storm surges.

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World’s largest plastics plant rings alarm bells on Texas coast

January 3rd, 2018

Gas giant ExxonMobil seal a $10bn agreement with the state-owned Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) to build the world’s largest plastics facility on the Texas coast. The Exxon-Sabic project will fuel an anticipated 40% rise in global plastic production over the next decade.

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Nowhere to Hide from Climate Change

January 2nd, 2018

The water is nibbling away the beaches of Fiji. Not even the dead are allowed peace of mind. The graveyard of Togoru – a village on the largest island of Fiji – has been submerged.

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Trump plan to shrink ocean monuments threatens vital ecosystems, experts warn

January 2nd, 2018

The Trump administration’s plan to shrink four land-based national monuments has provoked howls of anguish from environmental groups, Native American tribes and some businesses.

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Columbia Teen, NASA Partner In Mangrove Project: Report

January 2nd, 2018

A high school sophomore student has developed what might be the world’s first satellite-based early warning system to determine where mangroves are threatened. The work incorporates data from four satellites on mangrove growth and loss, rainfall, agriculture, and urban growth.

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The UN Starts a Conservation Treaty for the High Seas

December 30th, 2017

The nations of the world have launched a historic two-year process to create the first-ever international treaty to protect life in the high seas. Covering nearly half of the planet, the high seas are international waters where no country has jurisdiction.

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