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

How the Surfing Business Could be a Wipeout for an Iconic Calif. Town

surfers

To create perfect surfing conditions, nature needs to provide the right amount of deep-ocean swells, peculiar ocean-floor geography and wind. Coupled with sea-level rise, as beaches erode, the practice of beach replenishment – dredging and dumping sand to extend beaches and reclaim them from the ocean – is also destroying surf in some communities.

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Along Cuba’s Coast, The Last Best Coral Reef in the Caribbean Thrives

cuba

While coral reef cover has declined by 50 percent throughout the Caribbean, Cuba has managed to retain some of the most pristine coral reef environments on earth. Lack of coastal development, limited tourism, small amounts of runoff flowing into the sea, tight controls on commercial fishing, and the establishment of extensive marine protected areas have all combined to give Cuba the most remarkable coral reef environments in the Caribbean.

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Thick Dust Plumes Obscure Africa’s Coast

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Inform
Mar
4

Hundreds of millions of tons of sand and dust particles are lifted from North African deserts each year and carried across the Atlantic Ocean to South America. The trans-continental journey of dust is important because of what is often in the dust…

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Scientists Question Rush to Build Nicaragua Canal

lake-nicaragua

A consortium of environmental scientists has expressed strong concern about the impact of a controversial Central American canal across Nicaragua, to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

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Experts Warn of Health Risk on Rio de Janeiro Beaches

rio-coastal-urbanization
News, Pollution
Mar
3

The sands on the beaches of this Brazilian tourist mecca are heavily polluted, mainly thanks to trash left behind by beachgoers, experts told EFE. Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous Copacabana and Ipanema are among the areas contaminated to the point that dermatologists recommend avoiding skin contact with the sand.

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New Museum Program Focuses on Impacts of Fukushima on the Ocean

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Four years after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident, Japan is still recovering and rebuilding from the disaster. The accident resulted in the largest unintentional release of radioactivity into the ocean in history…

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Mystery Solved: Why Seashells’ Mineral Forms Differently in Seawater

shell-coastal-care
Inform
Mar
3

For almost a century, scientists have been puzzled by a process that is crucial to much of the life in Earth’s oceans…

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Europe Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Leading the World on Environmental Regulation

ibiza-denis-delestrac

Over the past 40 years Europe has developed the most comprehensive, ambitious and binding environmental legislation existing anywhere today. And with good reason: these standards should be seen as a unique economic advantage.

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France to Soon Enact the Principle of Ecological Prejudice ?

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French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, will be presenting before this summer, a bill proposing to include the notion of ecological prejudice in the Civil Code, and to make reparation a legal obligation.

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Recent / Inform

Sea Level Rising Faster Than Previously Thought

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January 16th, 2015

The world’s oceans are now rising far faster than they did in the past, a new study says.

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Shell Agrees $84m Deal Over Niger Delta Oil Spill

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January 14th, 2015

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to a $84m (£55m) settlement with residents of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta for two oil spills. Yet, hundreds of oil spills from Shell’s dilapidated pipelines occur every year…

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Rise in Mass Die-Offs Seen Among Birds, Fish and Marine Invertebrates

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January 14th, 2015

An analysis of 727 studies reveals that there have been more instances of rapid, catastrophic animal die-offs over the past 75 years. These mass kills appear to have hit birds, fish and marine invertebrates harder than other species.

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A Caribbean Island Embraces 100% Renewable Electricity, Giving Up Diesel

windmills-bonaire-island

January 13th, 2015

Bonaire (pop. 14,500), a small island off the coast of Venezuela, is famous for its beautiful marine reefs, which are visited by 70,000 tourists every year. What many of the tourists don’t realize is that the majority of the electricity powering their needs comes from renewable energy.

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Could Global Tide Be Starting To Turn Against Fossil Fuels?

oil-rig

January 13th, 2015

From an oil chill in the financial world to the recent U.S.-China agreement on climate change, recent developments are raising a question that might once have been considered unthinkable: Could this be the beginning of a long, steady decline for the oil and coal industries?

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Hidden Battles on the Reefs

coral-coastal-care

January 13th, 2015

How do you drown a coral reef? The very idea seems unfathomable for animals that spend their entire lives under water. But the deep ocean is actually riddled with “drowned” coral reefs, the remains of ancient reefs that slipped into the dark ocean depths and starved without sunlight.

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12 Dams that Changed the World

dam

January 13th, 2015

Renewable energy rather than mega dams and fossil fuels is the right choice for the 21st century. Even so, numerous destructive dams continue to be proposed and built on the Mekong, in the Amazon, throughout Africa, in China, the Himalayas and other parts of the world.

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The Economic Case Against Keystone

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January 12th, 2015

It’s been well established that the Keystone XL pipeline presents unacceptable risks to the planet. But approval of Keystone also presents a lesser-known risk: to America’s economic future.

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Pakistan’s Coastal Villagers Retreat as Seas Gobble Land

pakistan

January 12th, 2015

Climate change is clearly increasing vulnerabilities in the Indus Delta area. Sea-level rise is contributing to higher storm surges, erosion, flooding and salinity, according to WWF-Pakistan.

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Oil, An Invasive Water Species in the Carnival Capital

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January 12th, 2015

The activities of the oil industry’s plants, pipelines and tankers occupy 46 percent of the Guanabara bay in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, and that area is expanding, due to deepwater drilling in the Atlantic off the coast of Brazil, and the construction of a second refinery near the bay, set to begin operating in 2016.

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