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

New Sea-Level-Rise Modeling Forecasts Major Climate Impact to Low-Lying Pacific Islands


Dynamic modeling of sea-level rise, which takes storm wind and wave action into account, paints a much graver picture for some low-lying Pacific islands under climate-change scenarios than the passive computer modeling used in earlier research, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report.

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Vietnam’s Mangroves, A Video


This film highlights the threat to Vietnam’s coastal mangrove forests.

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Mangroves, Domes, and Flats on the UAE Coast

Celebrate, Inform

A mention of the United Arab Emirates coast might bring to mind the artificial islands near the city of Dubai. But to the southwest, the UAE coast is dotted with a complex mixture of natural features: mangroves, salt domes, salt flats, and coral reefs.

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Better Urban Planning Needed To Dodge Disasters


With the world’s mega-cities growing even larger, policymakers, especially those in developing countries, need urban planning that will help these areas withstand the impacts of natural disasters.

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Waterworld: Cities of the future?


For years, scientists have warned about the danger of rising sea levels, and thanks to an artist’s projections, we can see now what the impacts might look like in real life.

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Australia To Face Japan Over Whaling In UN Court


The UN’s International Court of Justice has set dates for public hearings on Australia’s challenge against Japan’s whaling programme in Antarctica.

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Letting Nature Take Its Course?


Is sustainability still possible? Yes. Is it still probable? No. With bold action today, tomorrow, and in years to come, we could succeed in creating a sustainable and prosperous society. But what does bold action actually mean? An Op Ed by Erik Assadourian, IPS.

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Arctic Nearly Free Of Summer Sea Ice During First Half Of 21st Century


For scientists studying summer sea ice in the Arctic, it’s not a question of “if” there will be nearly ice-free summers, but “when.” And two scientists say that “when” is sooner than many thought, before 2050 and possibly within the next decade or two.

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Nevis Government Says It Will No Longer Tolerate iIlegal Sand Mining

News, Sand Mining

Illegal sand miners across the island of Nevis have been warned to stop their illegal activities or face equipment seizure, arrest and prosecution.

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Recent / Inform

Chinese Environment Official Challenged To Swim In Polluted River


February 21st, 2013

Widespread outrage against China’s environmental issues that began when Beijing’s air pollution hit record levels last month has spread to encompass another major public health threat: water pollution.

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Migratory Behavior of Oceanic Sharks Revealed


February 21st, 2013

As the nations of the world prepare to vote on measures to restrict international trade in endangered sharks in early March, a team of researchers has found that one of these species, the oceanic whitetip shark, regularly crosses international boundaries.

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Uneven Global Sea-Level Rise Predicted


February 19th, 2013

Scientists have known for some time that sea level rise around the globe will not be uniform, but in this study researchers show in great detail the global pattern of sea-level rise that would result from two scenarios of ice-loss from glaciers and ice sheets.

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Reduced Sea Ice Disturbs Balance of Greenhouse Gases


February 19th, 2013

The widespread reduction in Arctic sea ice is causing significant changes to the balance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is shown in a new study conducted by researchers from Lund University in Sweden, among others.

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Filipino Super-Typhoon An Ominous Warning Of Climate Change Impact


February 18th, 2013

Philippines is having to adapt and adjust to rapidly deteriorating climatic trends at a great cost to its economy

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Islands Want UN To See Climate As Security Threat


February 16th, 2013

The Marshall Islands and other low-lying island nations appealed to the U.N. Security Council to recognize climate change as an international security threat that jeopardizes their very survival.

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Where the Danube Meets the Black Sea


February 16th, 2013

The Danube River is the largest in the European Union, and where that great river reaches the Black Sea, a remarkable delta has formed, the “Everglades” of Europe. The Danube Delta is home to more than 300 species of bird and 45 species of freshwater fish.

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U.S. Sea Level Rise Along East Coast To Accelerate With Gulf Stream Slowdown


February 15th, 2013

Experts on the sea level rise triggered by climate change have long known that it will proceed faster in some places than others.

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Keystone pipeline: Environmentalists protest in front of White House


February 15th, 2013

Environmentalists and industry groups ramped up efforts on Wednesday to try to sway the White House’s decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama said he will take action to curb climate-warming emissions.

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En Bretagne, Le “Peuple des Dunes” Défend Son Sable


February 14th, 2013

Fous de Bassan, cormorans huppés, petits pingouins, guillemots de Troïl, fulmars boréaux, goélands ou encore puffins des Anglais se pressent sur ce littoral des Côtes-d’Armor. C’est pour eux et pour tout le secteur de la pêche et du tourisme aussi, que le collectif le Peuple des dunes, se bat.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
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