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

Why Sand Is Disappearing ; By John R. Gillis

beach-sand-mining

To those of us who visit beaches only in summer, they seem as permanent a part of our natural heritage as the Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes. But shore dwellers know differently. Beaches are the most transitory of landscapes, and sand beaches the most vulnerable of all.

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Oil Spill Floods into Israeli Nature Reserve

eilat-israel
News, Pollution
Dec
4

Millions of litres of crude oil have gushed out of a pipeline, 18 km (12 miles) north of the Red Sea resort of Eilat, to flood 200 acres of a desert nature reserve in southern Israel. In the absence of heavy rainfall, there was little chance of the oil sluicing to Eilat and endangering Red Sea marine life.

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Soap, Sunscreen and Steroids Found in Antarctic Waters and Wildlife

antarctica
News, Pollution
Dec
3

The last great wilderness on Earth now has traces of personal care products and steroid hormones.

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Gambia: Mangrove Regeneration and Coastal Erosion

gambia

The West African Birds Association has trained 120 young people from 24 schools and organizations within Banjul, and West Coast regions, building the capacity of young people on the importance of mangroves and the dangers of coastal erosion.

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First Phase of Global Fracking Expansion: Ensuring Friendly Legislation

fracking

Multinational oil and gas companies are engaged in a quiet but broad attempt to prepare the groundwork for a significant global expansion of shale gas development, according to a study released Monday.

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Erosion Worsens at Topsail North Beach, NC

north-topsail-beach

Ongoing efforts to address erosion at the north end of Topsail Island took on more urgency this week after a weekend storm pounded the shoreline.

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Worldwide Ship Traffic Up 300 Percent Since 1992

shanghai-river
News, Pollution
Nov
29

Maritime traffic on the world’s oceans has increased four-fold over the past 20 years, likely causing more water, air and noise pollution on the open seas, according to a new study quantifying global ship traffic.

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Progress Towards Ogoniland Clean-up following Geneva Talks

nigerian-coast-oil
News, Pollution
Nov
29

Over 50 years of oil operations in Ogoniland – Niger Delta region, has left widespread and devastating oil pollution that may require the world’s biggest ever clean-up, that could take 20-30 years…

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Education is Key to Climate Adaptation

wave-book

According to new research, education makes people less vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and storms that are expected to intensify with climate change.

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Recent / Inform

Bamboo Could Be a Savior for Climate Change, Biodiversity

bamboo

October 18th, 2014

The plant bamboo, and there are about 1,250 different species, has a very important role to play in environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Bamboos have very strong and extensive root systems and are amazing tools to combat soil erosion and to help with land degradation restoration.

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Plastic Nanoparticles Also Harm Freshwater Organisms

fes-medina-river-palstic-pollution

October 17th, 2014

Organisms can be negatively affected by plastic nanoparticles, not just in the seas and oceans but in freshwater bodies too. It is the first time that such effects of plastic on freshwater organisms have been studied.

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Facing Storms Without the Mangrove Wall

mangrove-plantation-bali

October 15th, 2014

While tropical cyclones and storms cannot be stopped in their tracks, there is a natural defense system against their more savage impacts: mangroves. And experts fear their tremendous value is being woefully under-appreciated, to tragic effect, all around the world..

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Lost Louisiana: The Race to Reclaim Vanished Land Back From The Sea

marsh-creation-louisiana

October 15th, 2014

Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 square miles of land over the past 80 years – a disappearing act that claims on average a football field an hour. Now, World’s fastest submerging state is looking to nature in an ambitious plan to turn back the tide.

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Sea Level Rise Over Past Century Unmatched in 6,000 Years, Says Study

sea-level-rise-maldives

October 15th, 2014

The rise in sea levels seen over the past century is unmatched by any period in the past 6,000 years, according to a lengthy analysis of historical sea level trends.

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Offshore Sand And Gravel Extraction Threat

sand-re-nourishment

October 14th, 2014

When Superstorm Sandy rolled over the Jersey shore, it washed away some 20 million cubic yards of beach sand. Replacing that resource is not optional, many believe, because decimated beaches kill tourism economies and leave coastal areas more vulnerable to damage from the next storm.

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What Made Mexico’s Most Mysterious Beach?

hidden-beach-nayarit

October 14th, 2014

There’s an islet off the Pacific coast of Mexico with a pristine beach drilled into its central core like the hole of a donut. This hidden Eden continues to baffle geologists with its oculus of volcanic stone.

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Destruction of Mangroves Costs up to US$42 billion in Economic Damages Annually – UNEP Report

mangrove-brazil

October 14th, 2014

The world is losing its mangroves at a faster rate than global deforestation, the United Nations revealed, in a new report “Importance of Mangroves: A Call to Action,” adding that the destruction of the coastal habitats was costing billions in economic damages and impacting millions of lives.

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Stunning Finds from Ancient Greek Shipwreck

oxygene

October 14th, 2014

A Greek and international team of divers and archaeologists has retrieved stunning new finds from an ancient Greek ship that sank more than 2,000 years ago off the remote island of Antikythera.

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Expanding Antarctic Sea Ice is Coastal Flooding ‘Warning Bell’

coastal-erosion-north-carolina

October 13th, 2014

Research suggests that the expansion of Antarctic sea ice heralds ocean changes that will hasten ice sheet melting, by trapping heat beneath a layer of cold surface water, worsening flooding around the world.

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