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

Even the tiniest plastics found in the sea with new technology

News, Pollution

Studies have estimated that each year between 4 and 12 million tonnes of plastics end up in the sea, and that the figure is expected to double over the next ten years. But we have only begun to learn what happens with the plastics afterwards. Scientists have now developed a method that can measure the microplastics that other methods overlook.

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Huge Trove of Dinosaur Footprints Discovered in Scotland

Inform, News

Hundreds of tracks discovered along Scotland’s coast show that huge, long-necked dinosaurs once trod there.

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Economy Winner, Environment Loser in Renourishment

“One thing that locks you into renourishment is to continue beach construction and development as usual,” Young says as he stares at the five yellow CAT machines “The long-range or long-term solution is to have greater setbacks and to allow the beach to renourish itself naturally.”

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“Time To Choose”: The New Film From Oscar-Winner Charles Ferguson

In a special event, you can watch online Huffington Green, the important new climate change film, “Time to Choose,” from Oscar-winning filmmaker Charles Ferguson.

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The Green Legacy of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

King’s Hill Enclosure Ordinance, a piece of legislation passed in 1791 on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, was based on the novel concept that deforestation might cause a decline in rainfall. As extraordinary as this was, it is even more remarkable that it still remains a well-kept secret today…

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Supreme Court Ruling Freezes Plans For Captain Sam’s Spit, SC

The state Supreme Court has ruled in favor of environmentalists who oppose a developer’s plan for residential construction on Captain Sam’s Spit.

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Rapid plankton growth in ocean seen as sign of carbon dioxide loading

A microscopic marine alga is thriving in the North Atlantic to an extent that defies scientific predictions, suggesting swift environmental change as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the ocean, according to a recent study.

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Tanzania, Zanzibar: Illegal Sand Mining Irks Aakia Officials

News, Sand Mining

Zanzibar has been recording increased illegal sand mining, and authorities at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport are worried that it may, if uncontrolled, affect ongoing expansion program.

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Mud From Brazil Dam Burst Is Toxic, UN Experts Say

News, Pollution

The scale of the environmental damage is the equivalent of 20,000 Olympic swimming pools of toxic mud waste contaminating the soil, rivers and water system of an area covering over 850 kilometers.

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Recent / Inform

Water May Erase These Pacific Islands but Not the Culture

October 16th, 2015

Mother Ocean isn’t the heart of providence the people have always known. She is beginning to show a different face, a menacing one of encroaching tides and battering waves. I-Kiribati now live with the reality of marawa rising…

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Will Tidal and Wave Energy Ever Live Up to Their Potential?

October 16th, 2015

As solar and wind power grow, another renewable energy source with vast potential — the power of tides and waves — continues to lag far behind. But progress is now being made as governments and the private sector step up efforts to bring marine energy into the mainstream.

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Ocean Protection Is Gaining Momentum

October 16th, 2015

Extraordinary progress in the past decade has brought 1.6 percent of the world’s ocean to a category of ‘strongly protected,’ researchers say in a new analysis. International policy agreements call for protection of 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020, while some conservation organizations and most scientists say 20-50 percent of ocean protection is needed.

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Rising Seas Will Drown Mangrove Forests Around the Indo-Pacific Region

October 15th, 2015

Even with relatively low sea-level rises, mangrove forests around the Indo-Pacific region could be submerged by 2070, international research says. However the outlook in other parts of the world, where there are relatively large tidal ranges and/or higher sediment supply, was more positive.

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Officials Scramble for Funding to Replenish Storm-Damaged Beaches, SC

October 15th, 2015

The trifecta in recent weeks of storm surge from Hurricane Joaquin, king tides, and nearly 2 feet of record rainfall, contributed to the loss of nearly 80 percent of the sand that replenished North Myrtle Beaches during the last $11 million-renourishment project in 2008.

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The Sand Thieves of Larache, Northern Morocco

October 14th, 2015

Trois jours par semaine, les travailleurs de Larache, au Maroc, amènent des bulldo-zers sur la plage et prennent autant de sable qu’ils le peuvent. Quoique leurs patrons disposent de permis, ils viennent aussi en toute illégalité les week-ends, se servant d’ânes et de pelles pour ravager un peu plus le paysage.

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Map Shows Where Sea Level Rise Will Drown American Cities

October 13th, 2015

No matter what we do to curb global warming, these and other beloved US cities will sink below rising seas, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But making extreme carbon cuts and moving to renewable energy could save millions of people living in iconic coastal areas of the United States.

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Plastic oceans: What do we know?

October 13th, 2015

When it comes to throwing away rubbish, “away” is not some abstract space but a real location… About eight million tonnes of plastic waste are added to the oceans every year. An Exeter University research estimated that anyone consuming an average amount of seafood would ingest about 11,000 plastic particles a year.

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‘Repetitive Loss’ Properties Raise Debate Over Rebuilding After Floods

October 13th, 2015

Throughout Connecticut, thousands of homes have suffered: repetitive loss, as FEMA calls it, from flooding. Many residents have rebuilt multiple times. And many, also have used government funds from an alphabet soup of federal programs and agencies to do some, if not all, of the work. But shoreline and climate experts, public officials and others have grown increasingly critical of such programs.

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Indonesia’s Protest Generation And Biggest Punk Band Are Fighting Land Reclamation

October 12th, 2015

The protest, last summer, was just the latest surrounding a planned development that will “reclaim” 700-plus hectares of land from Benoa Bay, and its adjacent mangrove swamps, at the eastern end of Bali’s international airport, to create a number of Dubai-esque islands, hosting villas, luxury hotels, a golf course, and possibly even an amusement park.

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