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

BCDC Approves Sand Mining Permit in San Francisco Bay

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News, Sand Mining
Apr
23

San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) unanimously approved a 10-year mining permit for sand removal from San Francisco Bay, and from two other areas near Suisun. The amount of sand the permit requests is 15 times greater than the annual amount of sand that comes into the bay from the delta.

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County Declares Six Houses on Buxton Beach Unsafe, NC

sandbags-houses

A Dare County building inspector has put up “unsafe structure” notices on six oceanfront houses north of this town on Hatteras Island, NC. Most of the recent erosion seems to be in an area where owners had placed sandbags in front of the houses.

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Ocean Wealth Valued at US$24 Trillion, But Sinking Fast

silver

The value of the ocean’s riches rivals the size of the world’s leading economies, but its resources are rapidly eroding. The value of key ocean assets is conservatively estimated to be at least US$24 trillion. If compared to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank seventh with an annual value of goods and services of US$2.5 trillion.

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Miami Beach Sees Rising Seas as No Threat to Real Estate Boom, For Now

Miami-pom-2012-800

Miami Beach’s condo boom is bubbling hot, with glass towers being built as fast as they can be—even as scientists say rising seas could swamp much of the storied city by the century’s end.

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45 Years of Earth Day: How Environmentalism Has Evolved

feuille-verte

Today, Earth Day isn’t just a national event; it’s a global phenomenon. It is now the largest secular event in the world.

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Earth Day April 22, 2015: Act to Save the Planet

hope-sunrise

“Our world is worth saving and now is our moment to act. But to change everything, we need everyone…”

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Sixty-Seven Years of Oil and Gas Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

oil-rig

Deepwater drilling is increasing in the Gulf. Oil companies say it’s safer now, but critics say spills are inevitable.

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Deepwater Disaster: Five Years On, Not Much has Changed—Including the Impulse to Drill

oiled-feather

The nation’s costly and dangerous dependence on fossil fuel continues to endanger the lives of U.S. workers, the health of our waters, the lifeblood of coastal economies, and the survival of wildlife. Five years later, NRDC looks back on the people and places that endured the worst of the disaster, and whose lives continue to be harmed by its impact.

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Report: Soft Sand will Eventually End Beach Driving in Volusia County, Florida

beach-driving-hatteras

Soft sand shifting south will eventually mean cars will no longer be able to drive along the beaches in Volusia County. According to the study, ocean levels are rising every year, which means Mother Nature may eventually decide if cars should remain on the beach regardless of what the sand does. The report also states cities with limited beach driving have higher real estate values.

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Recent / Inform

NOAA Expands California Coastal Sanctuaries

point-arena-lighthouse-noaa

March 13th, 2015

Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries off northern California will both more than double in size following a final rule released today by NOAA. The expansion will help to protect the region’s marine and coastal habitats, biological resources and special ecological features.

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Safeguarding Africa’s Wetlands a Daunting Task

wetland-morocco

March 13th, 2015

African wetlands are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the continent, covering more than 131 million hectares. Yet, despite their importance and value, wetland areas are experiencing immense pressure across the continent.

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Climate Change in the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, Before and After- Interactive

kiribati

March 11th, 2015

Photographer Rémi Chauvin recreated a set of historical images depicting the first impacts of climate change in these countries where no one lives more than a few metres above the sea…

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4 Years After Japan’s Devastating Tsunami

japan-devastation

March 11th, 2015

People across Japan fell silent on Wednesday to remember the thousands of victims of the tsunami that wrecked its north-east coast four years ago.

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Waikiki Beach Is Totally Man-Made And Disappearing. Can Hawaii Save It?

honolulu-coastal-over-development

March 10th, 2015

Waikiki Beach has had erosion problems since the late-1800s when developers began erecting hotels and homes too close to the natural shoreline and building seawalls and other structures that blocked the natural ebb and flow of sand along the beach.

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The Dangers of Monastery Beach, California

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March 10th, 2015

One-third of all of the aquatic deaths in Monterey County in 2014 happened at the beach, which is nicknamed “Mortuary Beach.”

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Plastic Debris Takes a Toll on Marine Life

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March 10th, 2015

A newly released study, conducted by the University of Plymouth and Natural History Museum, found that there was even more plastic pollution than previously suspected.

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Florida Isn’t the Only State to ‘Ban’ Climate Change

savoie-sand-levee

March 10th, 2015

The Sunshine State isn’t the only U.S. state that has attempted to “outlaw” climate science. North Carolina, Louisiana and Tennessee have all passed laws that attempt to cast doubt on established climate science in boardrooms and classrooms.

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The Jersey Shore’s Unquenchable Thirst for Sand

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March 9th, 2015

New Jersey, with its 127-mile coastline, has spent about $800 million on beach replenishment over the last 30 years – more than any other state, including Florida, which has an 1,800-mile coastline. That is equivalent to 80 million cubic yards of sand – or about a dump truck load for every foot of beach.

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Top 10 Island Beaches for Perfect Sand

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March 8th, 2015

According to Condé Nast Traveler readers, you’ll find the world’s best sand at the following 10 beaches.

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