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

Island Nation Takes On The World’s Polluters

sea-level-rise-pacific-islands

What are the obligations under international law of a State for ensuring that activities under its jurisdiction or control that emit greenhouse gases do not cause, or substantially contribute to, serious damage to another State or States? Vulnerable countries, like Palau, that have not contributed to global warming, pressed this question in front of the ICJ.

No comments

Ten Reasons Why We Need More Contact With Nature

coeur-ocean
Celebrate, Inform
Feb
14

Researchers have found that regardless of culture people have an inborn affiliation for nature and gravitate to images of nature. We have a human right to a meaningful connection to nature, we have the responsibilities that come with that right, and we have to stop destroying the nature around us.

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Drought Stressing California’s Plantscape

california-coastal-mountains

Persistent dry weather has grown more worrisome in the American West, with nearly two thirds of the region experiencing some level of drought. By most measures, the state of California is suffering through the worst of it.

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Pharrell Debuts Denim Line Made From Recycled Ocean Plastic

plastic-pollution-beach
News, Pollution
Feb
13

Singer-songwriter, in collaboration with G-Star Raw, will create jeans made with plastic-based ‘bionic yarn’, from recycled ocean plastic. With growing concern over ever-growing garbage patches of floating plastic in the world’s oceans, any product that can take advantage of such waste is helpful.

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Killing Whales by Design and Default

sustainable-fishing

While countries such as Japan, Norway, and Iceland often are criticized for their commercial whaling practices, WHOI marine biologist Michael Moore points out how the majority of nations are also complicit in killing whales by deploying commercial fishing gear.

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DRC Mega-Dam to Be Funded by Private Sector, Groups Charge

congo-river

Watchdog groups here are warning that a deal has been struck that would see Chinese investors fund a massive, contentious dam on the Congo River, the first phase of a project that could eventually be the largest hydroelectric project in the world.

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A Look Back and Ahead at Greenland’s Changing Climate

greenland-melt

Over the past two decades, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet increased four-fold contributing to one-quarter of global sea level rise. The waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, which surround southern Greenland, are presently the warmest they have been in the past 100 years.

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Fossil Fuel Subsidies Dampen Shift Towards Renewables

windfarm-oilrig

Despite evolving public awareness and alarm over climate change, subsidies for the production and consumption of fossil fuels remain a stubborn impediment to shifting the world’s energy matrix towards renewable sources.

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Europe’s Oldest Footprints Uncovered On English Coast

sand-wars
Inform, News
Feb
10

The earliest human footprints outside of Africa have been uncovered, on the English coast, by a team of scientists.

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Recent / Inform

Survey of Supposed Deep-Sea Chemical Munitions Dump Off Southern California

marine-debris

December 9th, 2013

A total of 32 chemical munitions dumping areas are shown on nautical charts of United States waters. Seven of these lie off the California coast, between San Francisco and the Mexican border. However, little or no information is available about the amount, location, or nature of the materials that were dumped at most of these sites.

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Spill by Daniel Beltrá – In Pictures

daniel-beltra-oil-spill

December 9th, 2013

Spill is the first book from photographer Daniel Beltrá, who documented, 3,000ft above the Louisiana coastline, one of the world’s most destructive environmental disasters in human history: the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

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China’s Great Dam Boom: A Major Assault

china-dams

December 8th, 2013

China is engaged in a push to build hydroelectric dams on a scale unprecedented in human history. While being touted for producing lower-emission electricity, these massive dam projects are wreaking havoc on river systems across China and Southeast Asia.

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NASA Finds Reducing Salt Is Bad for Glacial Health

glacier

December 7th, 2013

A new NASA-led study has discovered an intriguing link between sea ice conditions and the melting rate of glacier. The discovery adds to our understanding of how ice sheets interact with the ocean, and may improve our ability to forecast and prepare for future sea level rise.

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UK: East Coast Floods: Aerial view of Tidal Surge Aftermath

holderness-coastal-erosion

December 6th, 2013

Aerial footage shows the extent of damage caused to properties and coastal landscape after the worst tidal surge in more than 60 years battered the east coast of Britain…

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Sandy Tribute to Nelson Mandela at Odisha’s Puri beach

sun

December 6th, 2013

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik Friday created a sculpture of Nelson Mandela on the Puri beach in Odisha to pay tribute to the anti-apartheid icon.

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Fukushima: WHOI Senior Scientist Studies Irradiated Water

japan-seaside

December 5th, 2013

Collecting samples off the coast where the Fukushima nuclear power plant was damaged in a March 2011 earthquake, the WHOI senior scientist measured higher than normal radiation levels long after the original disaster.

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Shell Plans Return To Offshore Drilling In Alaska Next Year

arctic

December 5th, 2013

Royal Dutch Shell Plc aims to return to Alaskan offshore drilling next July by deploying an upgraded drillship in the Chukchi Sea, while keeping a newly contracted backup drillship ready if needed, according to plans released on Wednesday.

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New Jersey Shore Likely Faces Unprecedented Flooding by Mid-Century

nj-post-sandy

December 5th, 2013

Geoscientists at Rutgers and Tufts universities estimate that the New Jersey shore will likely experience a sea-level rise of about 1.5 feet by 2050 and of about 3.5 feet by 2100 — 11 to 15 inches higher than the average for sea-level rise globally over the century.

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Microplastics Pose Toxic Threat To Marine Biodiversity

plastic-pollution-plastic-debris

December 4th, 2013

Tiny particles of waste plastic that are ingested by shoreline “eco-engineer” worms may be negatively affecting biodiversity, a study says.

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