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.
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
Wars in the Persian Gulf region and the deliberate draining of the Mesopotamian marshes, left a vast area of once-teeming river delta a dry, salt-encrusted desert, emptied of insects, birds and the people who lived on them. Now the marshes are under threat again, this time from the building of huge dams in Turkey on the Tigris and Euphrates.
“Do The Math” refers to the simple and terrifying new reality of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry currently has 2,795 gigatons of carbon in their reserves, five times more than the maximum 565 gigatons the world can emit and keep warming below 2°C, a goal agreed to by nearly every nation on earth, including the United States.
The sea bed in the Arctic deep sea is increasingly strewn with litter and plastic waste, according to researchers.
Green buildings would seem an oddity in this tiny Gulf nation which has plenty of oil and gas and, according to the International Energy Agency, the highest per capita emissions in the world, closely followed by Gulf neighbors Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. But attitudes about energy use are changing across the Gulf.
Despite the frosty scenes its name evokes, Sweden has a coral reef. In fact, it formerly had three, and the last one remaining is in danger of dying out.
The world’s governments have agreed to increase funding in support of actions to halt the rate of loss of biodiversity at the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
The car rolls along the beach, dirty white sandy and hard, smoother than most Calcutta roads. Here the beach is the road and the road the beach, end to end across the 14km expanse…
Given the rapid rate of urbanization and the current rate of extraction of sand for construction, and the silent devastation left behind in its wake, the modern process of assigning value, economic or otherwise to this resource seems sadly inchoate and needs to be re-evaluated… By Kiran Pereira.
Sea level is rising all over the world thanks to the heat-trapping effect of greenhouse-gas emissions, but according to a new study published in the Journal of Coastal Research, the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada have seen the ocean rise at an accelerating rate in recent decades.